Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Tanzanian Curried Chicken-Banana Soup

I have somewhat of an African heritage, from Tanzania, onetime Tanganyika, specifically my father was born there, though food-wise this heritage is sparse, and I've never really felt a need to discover the cuisine of that former German protectorate (my father is not a chef, my mother did the cooking, and she cooked mostly German and North American meals, so I was never exposed to that kind of food till much later). Really, the only African dish I remember my father regularly bringing to the table (mostly in the fall when the corn came out), is something he called ngati, which consisted of field or feed corn, with the tough kernels which are normally feed to livestock, you boil these for a long while, then add some red kidney beans and boil some more; what you get is something which I believe is designed to make you chew for a long while, then cleans out your system (or so I have memories of it, I haven't eaten it for a long while, but my father continued to enjoy it well into his 60's; he's almost 80 now, so it must have been good for something).

The curry powder I used for this soup is certainly not traditional, though there were a fair number of Indians living in Tanganyika and they had curries (which my father enjoyed as well, though the one that we made wasn't that spicy and the appeal of it, to my father, was the little side accompaniments); we used a Malaysian curry powder that we had on hand. Too, I used Ancho chili powder, sweeter and raisin-y in flavour, rather than a hot chile that would be used. I also used young coconut meat rather than the older water coconut meat, we had some frozen, and I just roughly chopped the meat up, though I think that the more traditional older coconut ground fine would have tasted better, and provided a sweet coconut base flavour to the soup. Lastly, we used sweet bananas, rather than what I would guess is used more traditionally, plantains, which are more starchy and less likely to fall apart when cooked. Still, the product of our labours was great tasting, and we used it more as a sauce than a soup, I first had it with rice, then we both enjoyed it with noodles. The result of our curry-chili mixture was not so spicy hot, feel free to up the temperature if you need to. My beautiful Bride wanted me to make this again, and soon, which is a testament to how good it tasted.

Tanzanian Curried Chicken-Banana Soup
4 Tbsp peanut or vegetable oil
4 chicken thighs, bone-in, or 3-lb. chicken, cut into pieces
1 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 Tbsp curry powder
1 Tbsp dried red chile, ground to a powder
2 tsp black pepper
8 cups chicken stock
1 large tomato (or 4 canned tomatoes), peeled and chopped
1 cup fresh coconut, grated
2 ripe bananas, sliced into chunky quarter pieces

In a Dutch oven, brown the chicken pieces in the oil. Remove chicken, reserving, and add the onion and garlic to the pot. Sauté until soft, then stir in the powdered chile, the curry, and the black pepper and fry for 2 more minutes. Add the tomatoes, stock, chicken pieces, and coconut, bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes.

When the chicken is done, remove, let cool, then strip away the meat and cut it into bite-sized chunks, discarding the skin and bones. Add it back into the pot with the banana chunks. Simmer 10 minutes.


Angie said...

It was great, I like it :):):)

Botany's Desire said...

Wow, I can't wait to try this recipe. Coming from a french west-indian food culinary background many of the ingredients are familiar and to my liking.

Thank you.