Friday, May 31, 2013

Kashata Za Nazi ( Swahili coconut snacks)


A "kashata" is a snack that's a cross between a candy and a cookie. Kashatas are a popular snack of Swahili origin. This snack is found mostly in Eastern Africa. Kashata are usually made with peanuts or grated coconut, or both. They are cooked either on the stove or over a fire. They are often brightly colored and cut into either square or diamond shapes.

While I was still in Kenya, my young nieces and nephew would love going over to my parent's house because there was always an unlimited supply of love, good eats and kashata for them. This and another Swahili snack called mabuyu. They would eat these snacks all day to their little heart's content and then go home and expend their new-found energy. When he reads this, my brother will now, in retrospect, understand where his children got all that energy from after playing all day at Nyanya's (Grandma's) house. So this post I dedicate to my nieces and nephew Michelle, Marvin and Marie.

-A 2QT (11X8), greased baking dish.
-A spatula (for spreading the hot kashata into the greased pan).
-A heavy bottomed pan to cook the coconut mixture.
-A butter knife (to slice the cooked kashata).                                   

-Two cups granulated sugar.
-3/4 cup water.
-1/4 teaspoon gel food coloring (I used Wilton Brand that is sold in the cake aisle at Walmart or any craft store).
-2 cups dessicated coconut that has been moistened with some milk or coconut milk OR freshly grated coconut OR 2 cups of roasted, unsalted peanuts (shells and skins removed) OR a mixture of both grated coconut and roasted peanuts peanuts (It's all up to you).
-2 teaspoons of milk powder (I used the Nido brand I found in the baking aisle at the grocery store).
-1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom (you can also use cinnamon or rose water in place of cardamom).
-1/4 teaspoon of Kosher salt (to balance the flavors).
-6 tablespoons of coconut milk or regular milk (to moisten your coconut flakes if you are using desiccated coconut).                                      



-In your pan on medium heat, add the water, food gel coloring and sugar. Do not stir the sugar in the pan as it will form crystals. Holding the handle of the pan, swirl the syrup around in the pan until all the sugar is dissolved (as shown in the video). Keep cooking the syrup until it thickens. If you put the syrup between your thumb and your index finger, the syrup should be sticky and stringy (as shown in the video). At this point you know your sugar is ready for the next step.
-Add the coconut flakes, cardamom and salt to the syrup. Stir well as you add each ingredient. When all ingredients have been added to the mixture, continue stirring for about 5-8 minutes, making sure everything is well mixed. You will know your mixture is ready to remove from the heat when all the mixture seems to pull away from the pan and looks like forming a ball when stirred. If you notice brown coloring, then the mixture is starting to burn and should be removed from the pan immediately.                                        

-Use your spatula to scoop the mixture into the greased baking pan. Let it rest for 5-8 minutes.                                           

-Using the back of your butter knife (not the serrated edge), cut the kashata into squares or diamonds while still warm. Do not use a back-and-forth motion while cutting as the lines on your kashata will not be clean or defined. Let it cool further (as additional 8 minutes). Serve.                                       

These crumble and melt in your mouth....SO GOOD!! If this does not make you or your child look like a star in your next bake sale....there is no hope for you.

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