Sunday, April 11, 2010

Iron chef Rwanda

Task: feed twelve people.

Challenge one: shopping in the market in only thirty minutes. Because of genocide week, the market closed shortly after we finished lunch. I rushed down with Zilpa and Assinath, two wonderful trainers who live in my house, and we rushed around. Zilpa bought sweet potatoes and oil. Assinath and I bought beans and veggies before we split up: she went to find our a leafy green, little eggplant, and peanut powder, while I grabbed as much fruit as I could for desert. I ended up frantically haggling with two women as they packed up their fruit, trying not to pay the muzungu price. Still arguing, we were pushed out by the police, and settled up outside the market walls. The frantic shopping amidst the bustle of the closing market was exhilarating. All told, I didn’t do too badly: I was shorted on the passion fruit and tree tomatoes, but including the cheese and corn bread I bought earlier, the entire meal cost about $17 for 12 people.

Challenge two: cooking 3 dishes on two charcoal stoves. We (er, Assinath) immediately lit one stove and started the dried beans cooking. With help from some of our house mates and dinner guests, we peeled and sliced several kilos of knobby white sweet potatoes, which Zilpa then spent hours double-frying on the second charcoal stove. I soaked the fruit in bleach-water to make it safe to eat. We chopped the eggplant, peppers, carrots, tomatoes, celery, onion, garlic (sold pre-peeled in the market, awesome), and urusenda chili pepper for our “American beans,” or chili. We washed the renga-renga greens and shredded them (Assinath with just a knife, me with kitchen scissors). When the beans were cooked, I fried the veggies and urusenda with some Indian-style “chicken masala” (clove, cumin, coriander, tumeric, etc) and then added the beans. Finally, we watched as Assinath prepared the greens with toasted peanut powder, a recipe I’ll share later.

The meal was a great hit, and our three trainers as well as our night guard loved “American beans.” Our desert was a heavenly fruit salad of mango, pineapple, passion fruit, tree tomato, and banana. Everybody ate too much, and we still had leftovers.

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