Sunday, February 24, 2013

Beef Pilau, Skuma Wiki (sauted kale or collard greens) & Kachumbari (East African salsa ) meal

In Kenya, if someone asks you, "When are you inviting me over for some pilau?" That means there is some special occasion in the air. The birth of a child, a wedding, Ramadhan (Islamic religious holiday) or any other important get together. Pilau is a rice dish that consists of rice flavored with spices and cooked in stock, to which meat, poultry, hard-boiled eggs or fish may be added. It is a popular dish in Kenya (especially around the Kenyan coast) and Tanzania. Pilau exists in other cultures and countries as well. The spices used and the names it is given may differ, but the cooking concept is similar to the Kenyan Pilau. Today, I will do something different. I will give you the recipe for a complete meal. Besides the beef pilau, I will show you how to cook "Skuma Wiki". Skuma wiki traditionally, is cooked with kale. However, one can use collard greens (which is what I did here. I also added some spinach just for extra flavor). Translated literally from Swahili, skuma wiki means "to push the week", implying that it is a staple used to stretch the family budget as far as meals go, to last the week. This is because the vegetable is easily available and is affordable. The other recipe I will be sharing with you today is "kachumbari". Kachumbari is a fresh tomato and onion salad dish in East and Southern African cuisine. In Kenya, it is used as a condiment to a main meal. It is an uncooked salad dish consisting of chopped tomatoes, onions, and chili peppers, cilantro, lemon juice (and salt to taste). Variations of Kachumbari can be found in Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Uganda and in central African countries of Malawi and Congo. In Latin America, it is a variation of pico de gallo or salsa frescaIt is popular throughout east Africa and parts of Southern Africa. The Swahili word "Kachumbari" originated from the word Koshumbri or "Kachumber" in Sanskrit from India.

SERVING SIZE: This meal feeds 6-8 sufficiently.

-Cutting board.
-Sharp Knife.
-2 large pots with lids.
-1 medium size pot with a lid.
-Cooking spoons.
-One large oven-safe dish.
-Aluminium foil.
-Big sifter or fine-mesh colander.
-medium mixing bowl, placed under the colander or sifter.


-1 1/2- 2 lbs beef, trimmed and cut into 1 inch cubes (I used bone-in shanks, cross-cut. The bones add more flavor).
-1 tablespoon ginger-garlic paste.
-1 tablespoon salt (I use kosher salt).
-3 cups of basmati rice (washed several times until the water runs clear, and soaked for 30 minutes).
-2 medium sized red onions, thinly sliced.
-1/2 cup vegetable oil (I used canola oil).
-2 tablespoons tomato paste.
-1 cinnamon stick, broken into 3 smaller pieces.
-4 green cardamom pods.
-1 teaspoon coriander seeds.
-1 tablespoon cumin seeds.
-4 whole cloves.
-5 peppercorns.
-1/2 cup frozen green peas.
-2 medium-sized potatoes cut in two or there parts.


-In the medium-sized pot, on medium heat, bring the beef, 2 cups of water, salt and ginger-garlic paste to a slow boil. Let it cook, covered, for 10-15 minutes.
-Using the colander or sifter, drain the beef stock from the beef. Reserve the beef stock and set aside. Leave the beef pieces in the pot and set aside.
-In one of the large pots, on medium heat, heat the oil. Add the onions and saute until light brown. 
-Add all the whole spices to the pot and stir. Let it cook for at least 5 minutes until the spices release their aromas.
-Add the potatoes and fry them until they're crispy around the edges, but not completely cooked. Cover the pot and let it simmer for around 5 mins (uncover the pot to stir occasionally within that time).                                                   
-Add the tomato paste to the pot and stir to make sure all the potatoes are well coated in the spice/tomato paste mix.
-Add the beef into the pot with the potatoes and stir.
-Add the reserved beef stock into the pot and stir.
-Add the peas into the pot.
-Once the beef stock has come to a boil, drain the soaked rice and gently put it into the pot. Gently fold the rice into the mixture and make sure that all the rice is covered by the broth.
-Reduce heat to medium-low, cover the pot and let it simmer for 20-25 minutes.


-The rice is done when you press it between your thumb and finger and it mashes easily. When the rice is ready, turn the heat off. If there is excess broth in the pot even after the rice is ready, use a fine-mesh colander or sieve to drain off the excess liquid.
-Transfer your rice into an oven-safe dish and cover it with aluminium foil. Let it cook covered for 15 minutes on the middle rack of the oven. After 15 minutes, uncover the rice and let it cook for an additional 15 minutes.
-Your rice is ready to be served. If you are still preparing other side dishes, then after the oven cools down, turn it on "warm" mode and return your rice into the oven until you are ready to serve it.

-1 big bunch of kale, well cleaned, stalk removed and chiffonaded (cut into fine, ribbons-like strips. Please see instructions in the video). Alternatively, you can use collard greens instead of kale. In our home in Kenya, we combine collard greens and spinach (which is what I did here). If you decide to use spinach in this recipe, you will need 1 big bunch, also chiffonaded, and mixed in with the cut collards.
-1 can peeled, diced, tomatoes (I used a 14.5 Oz can).
-2 tablespoons vegetable oil (I use canola).
-1 medium-sized red onion, finely cut.
-1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder.
-1 tablespoon salt (i use kosher).
-1/2 teaspoon red chili powder.
-1/2 of a big bouillon cube, or one whole small one (You can use either Maggie or Knorr cubes. These can be found in the Hispanic section of the International aisle at the grocery store).

-In a large pot, on medium heat, heat up the oil.
-Once the oil is hot, add the onions and saute until they start turning brown (do not let them burn, or it will affect the taste of the vegetables).
-Add the tomatoes and stir. Cover the pot and let the tomatoes cook down until they are soft.
-Add the salt and stir.

-Crumble the bullion cube into the pot and stir.
-Add the chili powder and stir.
-Add the chopped greens into the pot and allow it to cook for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, stir the greens, lower the heat to medium-low and let it cook, uncovered, for 20-25 minutes until the greens are nice and tender. if you cover the greens at this point, they will turn brown :(. Do not add any water as the greens have moisture of their own, with which they'll cook.


While your skuma wiki is still cooking, you can now start on the Kachumbari.

-3 medium-sized ripe tomatoes (I used vine tomatoes), cleaned and cubed into 1/2 inch cubes.
-1 medium red onion, finely sliced.
-1 jalapeno pepper (or any green pepper of your choice), cubed.
-1/4 cup finely cut cilantro (coriander leaves).
-Juice of 1/2 a lemon.
-1 teaspoon salt.



-In a small mixing bowl, combine the onions and tomatoes.
-Use a fork to lightly mash the tomatoes to release their juices.
-Add the green pepper and stir.
-Add the cilantro and stir well.
-Add the lemon juice and stir well.
-Add the salt and stir well.
Your kachumbari is done. Now how easy was that? :)


You now have a complete meal. Carbohydrates (rice), Vitamins (greens) and Proteins (beef). I served my pilau up "family style", like we do in Kenya. This was so much food, I shared some with my neighbors. They were very happy! Enjoy!


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