Cote d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast)

As usual, we started getting nervous when we saw an African country approaching the top of our list.  We don’t have the best track record with African food, although it is slowly improving…

Our plan for Cote d’Ivoire was to make a stew called Kedjenou, attieke (which is, essentially, couscous made of cassava), and gâteau molleux à l’anabas et à la noir de coco (pineapple and coconut cake).  We couldn’t find attieke, so we ended up substituting standard issue couscous and following a similar cooking method to what we used for Algeria.

Kedjenou (recipe)

This was another easy recipe… the instructions are to dump everything in a big pot, then let it cook for a long time.  We used chicken (I think chicken thighs?), eggplant, onions, chili pepper, tomato, ginger, thyme, bay leaf, garlic, chicken stock, and peanut oil.  We turned it into a crockpot meal.

Before cooking (yes, we still had useable thyme in the garden in mid-October for this!):

Kedjenou_before_cooking

After cooking:

Kedjenou_after_cooking

 

Served on couscous:

Kedjenou_on_couscous

Gâteau Molleux à l’Ananas et à la Noix de Coco (recipe)

It had been a while since we made an international dessert, so we decided to make this cake.  It also seemed fitting to make a cake since it was close to my birthday!

The cake batter involved shredded coconut, butter, flour, sugar, eggs, baking powder, salt, and chopped fresh pineapple (yum!).  Other than the pieces of fruit, the batter and cakes looked pretty normal.  Perhaps slightly more done than I would have liked.

cote_d'ivoire_cake_1

 

However, the flipping onto a cooling rack step was not so successful (although this gave us a good excuse to sneak a taste of the cake, which got done before dinner was ready 🙂 ).

cote_d'ivoire_cake_2

But it still tasted good!

cote_d'ivoire_cake_3

 

This meal was better than we have come to expect from African food, although it wasn’t phenomenal.  There was a reasonable amount of flavor in the stew, but the chicken seemed dry to me.  The cake was also good, but it seemed like it was missing something.  I would rate this meal as average… not bad, not great.  Probably won’t be making it again.

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Burkina Faso

I let myself get behind in blogging again!  We cooked our meal from Burkina Faso a couple weeks ago.  As with many of the African countries, there was a fairly limited selection of recipes.  I ended up with a big one pot meal of riz gras (which apparently translates to “fat rice”), Banfora cookies, and a hibiscus tea drink called bissap.

Riz Gras (recipe)

The best part of this dish is that it was the perfect excuse to use our new enameled cast iron Dutch oven!!!  The worst part was the high price tag for lamb meat.

We started by soaking the rice in water.  I think we used more rice from our seemingly bottomless bag of Basmati rice for this dish.  Then I chopped the onion, tomatoes, carrots, and cabbage.

riz_gras_veggies

The onion and tomato were fried with some oil, then the carrots, cabbage, tomato puree (I used tomato paste), and chicken bouillon were added.  The recipe didn’t really specify when to add the meat, so we put it in during this step as well.

riz_gras_1

 

After that came to a boil, the rice was added.

riz_gras_2

 

After half an hour or so, the rice was tender and the meat was cooked.  Done!

riz_gras_3

Bissap (recipe)

I found several recipes for this drink throughout the internet, and they all followed the same theme: steep dried hibiscus flowers in hot water, add sugar, then add some other stuff of your choosing.  I liked the recipe I am linking to because it listed several common options for additional mix-ins.  I read pineapple and lemon juice/lemonade as common additions on several other sites.

I was surprised to find dried hibiscus flowers readily available at our grocery store!  They went in the pot with hot water.

bissap_steeping

I believe we let it steep for fifteen minutes or so.  It turned a very deep red color.

bissap_steeped

 

We strained it into a pitcher through cheesecloth and let it cool the fridge.  We didn’t add any additional mix-ins at this point so that we could try a few different options.  After cooling, I added pineapple juice to my glass and Tyler added mint.  He couldn’t really taste the mint, so we think it should have gone in while the tea was still hot rather than added once it was cold.  He ended up removing the tea leaves and adding pineapple juice too.

bissap

Banfora (recipe)

I’m not convinced at how traditional/widely consumed these are in Burkina Faso, but I thought they looked quite good.  They are described as the Burkinabe version of Welshcakes, which I had not heard of before.

The dough was pretty simple to prepare… mix flour/salt/butter to get a breadcrumb texture, then mix in the remaining ingredients.  The most unique ingredient to this was chopped, dried pineapple.  The dried pineapple we found had sugar added, so the cookies were probably extra sweet because of this.

The dough was rolled out and cut into circles.

banfora_pre_cooking

Then it got interesting!  Rather than baking these cookies, they are cooked on the stovetop.  I didn’t get any pictures of that step, but it felt very similar to making pancakes.  I used a little bit of oil to cook them in, but not too much since we have a non-stick griddle.  The cookies were topped with a little powdered sugar and cinnamon immediately after being removed from the griddle.

banfora

Meal review

Unfortunately, the riz gras was not a big winner.  It was okay–somewhat reminiscent of a beef stew, especially with the carrots–but nothing spectacular.  And it made a LOT of food.  You’d think we would have learned to scale recipes by now.  I think the biggest problem for me was the texture.  The high concentration of cabbage wasn’t very pleasant to me.  I tried to offset the cabbage and enhance the flavors when we ate leftovers by adding fresh herbs from the garden for flavor and peanuts for crunch, but in the end, a lot of this food ended up in the garbage.  😦

The bissap drink was very good.  It was a little too sweet… almost Koolaid-ey, but that is probably from adding sweet pineapple juice in addition to the sugar.  I definitely enjoyed this as a cool, summery drink.  As an added bonus, the dried hibiscus flowers were surprisingly inexpensive!

The bandora cookies were also very good!!  They reminded me of a scone, and I enjoyed coming across the occasional piece of pineapple.  I’m sure they were terribly unhealthy with all of the butter/sugar and the fact that they are fried, but they were definitely worth it.  I was so glad to end the meal on a high point with these cookies, since the riz gras was not a big hit.