Monday, April 8, 2013

Wali wa nazi (coconut rice) with Peanut chicken stew & guava & creamcheese crescent rolls


There were very few things growing up that would make the girls in our house "disappear" like the daunting task of "kukuna nazi". That is Swahili for grating the flesh of the coconut, which literally translates to "scratching" the coconut. Here's why:


You see this little contraption in the picture above? This is the infamous mbuzi that my sisters and I so dreaded. Not to be confused with a goat, which is also called mbuzi in Swahili, this contraption was no more than 5 inches off the ground. One would have to straddle it facing the serrated claw with both your palms firmly clasping one half of a coconut. In a back-and-forth motion, you would then proceed to scrape the flesh of the coconut against that sharp, serrated claw. On many occasions, I scraped the skin right off of my hand trying to grate the coconut. At that point began my love-hate relationship with the contraption. Out of that grated coconut, we would make coconut milk or tui la nazi using a long, conical basket , hot water and elbow grease. The first rendering of the freshly squeezed coconut milk was always thick. That was referred to as tui la kwanza (the first tui). Subsequent renderings using the same grated coconut was referred to as tui la pili (second tui). This second rendering was much lighter. 

My mom is a no-nonsense woman, but very loving. Noticing how her daughters would disappear on the day any coconut recipes were to appear on the menu, she made it a rule that if you wanted to eat, you had to participate in the meal preparation. So, much to the chagrin of my sisters and I, we scraped those coconuts every single time. You might wonder then, how come so many of my recipes include coconut. Well, I came to discover this magical thing called canned coconut milk in the US. I don't have to part with parts of my epidermis for the sake of freshly grated coconut?? WHAT?? YES PLEASE!! What is ironic though, is that years after I relocated to the US, canned coconut milk is now readily available in stores in Kenya :/

So I will happily share with you all the recipes I know that include coconut milk in the list of ingredients. With a promise that no fingers shall be scraped in the preparation of any of these meals. Today I will share with you the recipe for coconut rice and peanut chicken stew. 

For the dessert in this video, check out my "Guava & Cream Cheese Crescent Rolls" post for step-by-step instructions (with photos) of how to prepare them.

This peanut chicken stew recipe is a variation of a peanut chicken recipe found in many other parts of Africa. I have added spinach to the recipe to make the meal more nutritious and to up the taste factor. The coconut rice is a prevalent dish along the Kenyan and Tanzanian coastal cities. The guava and cream cheese crescent rolls are just something I came up with in my kitchen.

SERVING SIZE FOR RICE: Feeds 6-8 sufficiently.

-1 medium pan with a lid.
-Oven-safe dish.
-Aluminium foil.

-2 cups of Basmati rice, washed, soaked for 20-30 minutes and drained.
-4 cups of light coconut milk (alternatively, you can combine one can of heavy coconut milk with 2 cups of water).
-3/4-1 tablespoon of salt (I use Kosher salt).
-1/2 cup heavy coconut milk.


-In your pan, on medium heat, bring the can pf coconut milk (2 cups), the 2 cups of water and salt to a boil.

-Add the drained rice into the boiling water and gently stir. Taste the water/coconut milk in the pan for saltiness. If its not salty enough for you, add some more salt. Your rice needs to be well seasoned or it will smell nice, but taste bland.
-Cover the pot, reduce the heat to medium-low and let the rice cook for 20 minutes or until the coconut/water does not bubble over the surface of the rice.
-Add the 1/2 cup of heavy coconut milk and let it simmer for an additional 8-10 minutes. Check to see if the rice is cooked by pressing a grain of rice between your thumb and index finger. It should not be hard or aldente.
**Preheat your oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit.
-Once you've made sure that the rice is cooked, it is now time to "dry" the rice. Transfer the rice to an oven-safe dish, uncovered, and place it on the middle rack of the oven. Let it "dry out" for 8-10 minutes.
-Turn the oven down to "warm" and cover the dish with aluminium foil until you are ready to serve the rice.

-1 1/2-2 Lbs boneless, skinless chicken breast, cubed into bite-sized pieces.
-1/2 cup water to cook the chicken and create chicken stock.
-1 medium onion, finely chopped.
-2 cups of spinach, chopped.
-Juice of half a lemon.
-2 tablespoons tomato paste.
-2 tablespoons creamy peanut butter.
-1 tablespoon ginger/garlic paste.
-1/2 teaspoon ground coriander.
-1 teaspoon curry powder.
-1 teaspoon ground cumin.
-1 teaspoon ground cinnamon.
-3/4 teaspoon red chili powder.
-2 tablespoons of vegetable oil (to cook the chicken).
-1 teaspoon salt.


-In a medium pan  that's covered, on medium heat, cook the chicken in the 1/2 cup of water for 10 minutes until there is no pink showing.

-Drain the chicken stock into a separate bowl and reserve.
-In a larger pan, on medium heat, saute the onions until golden brown.
-Add the ginger/garlic paste and stir. Cook for 3 minutes.
-Add the curry powder and other spices, stirring constantly. If the spices/onion mix seems too dry, slowly add a little bit of the reserved chicken stock and stir.
-Add the tomato paste to the pan. Stir.
-Add the chicken to the pan and stir well so that all the chicken pieces are well coated with the onion/spice mixture.
-Add the lemon juice and stir.
-Add the rest of the reserved chicken stock and stir well.
-Add the peanut-butter and let it dissolve into the stew. Stir.
-Cover the pan and let the chicken simmer on medium-low heat for 10-15 minutes. If, after this duration the stew seems to thick, add about 1/2 cup of water to the pan and stir. Taste for salt. If needed, add more.

-Add the chopped spinach to the pan, stir well, cover and let it simmer on medium-low heat for another 8-10 minutes. Your stew is now ready to be served. Enjoy!


Besides rice, this stew also goes well with chapati, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes or ugali.