Tuesday, 13 December 2011

A Traditional East African breakfast- Barazi & Mahamri

Greetings all!!!
I know I haven't been posting for a while..Almost a month actually. Apart from the other things that have been keeping me busy, I also have exams to sit.
Not good :-(
I haven't sat for exams for years..and the nerves just seem to be getting to me! Honestly. For my first paper, after reading through the questions, my mind had gone completely blank for the first couple of minutes. Sitting right under the nose of the invigilator didn't help either. Oh well, thankfully I remembered most of the stuff (i hope) that I had studied and managed to jot it down. Prayers that I do well please??

Its good to finally have a new post up. Apologies everyone, for being silent for so long...hopefully will be posting slightly more often.
When I do get the time to however, I usually get so carried away with my stories that when I'm done, my posts usually end up having to be edited and at least half of what's written needs to be removed. Other wise y'all would be bored to death.

Anyway, todays blog post is going to be something different.
A traditional East African breakfast. Its quite popular in the coastal town of Mombasa where I was born. We call it Barazi and Mahamri. (the tanzanians usually call it mandazi- but mahamri sounds better :-P)

Barazi is pigeon peas (gungo peas) cooked in coconut milk and is eaten with Mahamri- a slightly sweet fried bread flavoured with cardamom.
It is officially one of the most amazing combinations ever.
The salty savouriness of the barazi is complemented perfectly with the sweet mahamri which is light and fluffy and which is SO SO amazing, even if you just have it with a hot cup of tea.

I have to admit, mahamri was actually one of my biggest enemies in the kitchen.
The dough is majorly difficult to bring together. Its like wrestling.
No..its MORE difficult!!!!
Actually, I think its just me who finds it difficult to make the dough. People usually find it easy.
I only recently learned how to make it right. (thankyou mummy :-) )

One of the most amazing and favourite childhood memories I have is a little tradition we had with my grandparents when we used to go stay with them in Mombasa as a family.
On Sunday mornings we were awoken at the most unearthly hour (not so unearthly- but for a little kid, 6am is pretty early okay?) and dressed in our swimming costumes.
Within five minutes of being woken up, a feverish excitement would fill our home. The three of us kids would be jumping around in excitement, harassing everyone to hurry up and get in to the car. Big baskets with flasks, crockery, breakfast, water and of course, spare clothes would be loaded in to the car and we would set off to the beach.
The drive there was amazing. If you've ever been to Mombasa, you would know that as soon as you step out of the plane, a sweet aroma of coconut palm trees and flowers mingled with the smell of seaweed surounds you.
Once we would reach the beach, it would be nearing daylight and we would run down to the sea. With the tide usually really low, we would splash around in the warm sea water, try and touch the tiny fish that would be darting around in the water and watch the tiny crabs scampering around in the sand and scurrying into their little holes.
We would sit on the damp sand and create masterpieces with our buckets and spades, gaze at the tall, beautiful camels that would be brought on the beach and if we were really lucky, have a long ride on the glass bottomed boats that would give us an opportunity to see the beautiful sea life in its own natural surroundings.

After thoroughly exhausting ourselves and with our little hands filled with all the colourful shells that we would find everywhere, we would run up to the little concrete, open air 'huts' where we would sit and enjoy our breakfast.
With a plate loaded up with coconuty barazi and sweet mahamri, we would happily eat, washing it down with sweet, steaming hot, indian tea.

Those memories were the best. Those were some of the most ideal moments that I could ever have as a child!!
I pray and wish that I get that opportunity again. Not only to be enjoying the raw beauty of my homeland, but also spending time with my loved ones. Laughing, chatting, eating together and having an amazing time.

When I do make this breakfast, sometimes I just shut my eyes and imagine all the amazing childhood memories that are attached with it. I can never thank God enough for granting me those wonderful moments and blessing me with the memories of them so that I can always be grateful for them!!

This is what it looks like inside :-)

Couldn't resist :-)

Here's the recipe..

For the Mahamri:


1 cup plain flour
1 cup self raising flour
10-12 tsps sugar
cardamom powder (elaichi)
1 pack yeast
4 tbsps oil

Bring together all the ingredients with hot water, using your hands. Be very very very careful and don't put in too much water otherwise you'll be left with just a mess. I kept making that mistake!! keep adding a little water constantly until the dough is brought together. Keep kneading it until it reaches a soft, smooth and stretchy consistency.

Place the ball of dough into an air tight container (large enough to let it rise) and let it sit for about 2 and a half hours, by when it should have risen.
Once it is ready, we usually split the dough in to six balls. Lightly dust the surface where you are going to prepare it and then roll out each of the six balls in to circles. Roll each ball out to about half an inch thickness and then cut it into four using a knife.

You get 24 out of this recipe.

Prepare the oil for deep frying and make sure the oil is quite hot. Fry the mahamris- about 2 at a time so you can keep making sure they get browned equally. Turn them over and watch them rise- its too cool!!! :-)

(Just a side note- if you want to prepare the dough in advance, you can make it and freeze it immediately in a plastic bag. Don't let it rise!!!- whenever you do want to make it, remove it from the freezer and let it defrost itself for a couple of hours and then give it an hour or two to rise before you can roll it out!!)

For the Barazi:
Ingredients: (for about two people)

3/4 cup gungo beans (If they are raw, soak them in hot water overnight and then cook them in the pressure cooker for about 15 minutes)
If you're lazy- like I am most of the time, you can buy the canned gungo beans and use them instead :-) - just make sure you wash them out!! I use one can for two peoples breakfast!!

Half a block of creamed coconut or canned coconut milk. (In Africa we used to use the real coconut milk- but I am completely clueless on how to do that!!)
2 green chillies
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
salt to taste

All you have to do is place your cooked beans in a pan and add some water until its slightly above the surface of the beans.
Add in the creamed coconut and the green chillies, turmeric and salt

Let it boil for a while (about 15 minutes), until everything is combined. If you are using canned peas, let it boil in the coconut slightly longer so the beans soften a bit more!!

Serve hot and enjoy!!! If you do want to reheat the mahamri later on, you get best results by heating them in the oven on a low temperature!!

Enjoy :-)


Sunday, 6 November 2011

Seero / Suji ka halwa

I'm not one of the biggest fans of Indian sweets. Sure there is an exception here and there...Like my mum's amazing 'gulab jamuns'- which are made out of mawa (khoya) which is a rich dairy product used in the best of indian sweet recipes!! You can tell why anyone who tastes them would go crazy..they are perfectly sweet (but not too sweet) and deep fried and then soaked in a sugar syrup with saffron and cardamom!!..mmMmm
Anyway that is a recipe for another day!!!

Unfortunately we don't get this Mawa in the UK, so we usually replace it with Milk powder- which pretty much does the job- but if you DO taste something with the original 'mawa' in it- you can totally taste the difference!!! 

Back home whenever there would be a 'happy occassion' at mosque, along with the main meal that would be served, we would also get either of these two dishes. 'Seero' (semolina/suji halwa) or 'Zarda' (a gorgeous, aromatic, sweet yellow rice with nuts and raisins).  Both of these dishes are extremely gorgeous and delicious in their own ways.

The Seero/Suji ka halwa, whose recipe I am going to post today is more of a soft, gooey, yummy sweet. Its perfect when eaten piping hot and is extremely delectable!
You could try making a low fat version of it, but I think that if you are going to indulge in something, you may as well have the best version of it!!! Anything else would be a waste of calories!! :-P

My sister in law always makes this when we go to her place, and it is gorgeous!! It was one of those things that I used to absolutely love eating, but never actually thought of making it. 
I once was having some guests over and it struck me that this would be a perfect ending to a meal!..I was amazed when she gave me the recipe..it was SO easy!!!
How can something that tastes so good be so easy to make??

Here's the recipe:

1 cup ghee (clarified butter)- make sure you don't replace this with oil. This is the real stuff!!!
1 cup milk powder
1 cup semolina (suji)
1 can evaporated milk
1 cup sugar
Half a teaspoon cardamom powder (elaichi powder)
Crushed nuts for sprinkling on top (I use almonds and pistachios)

Firstly, blend together the evaporated milk, the sugar and milk powder.
Next, all you have to do is heat up the ghee in a pan, and then add in the semolina. Stir it continuously. You will see that the semolina has soaked up all the ghee. Don't worry about that and keep stirring for a couple of minutes.
Then pour in the blended mixture of the evaporated milk/sugar/milk powder.
The mixture will be quite runny. Keep stirring it. Add in the cardamom powder and the saffron and keep mixing.
The mixture will suddenly become quite thick.

Pour it in to a dishl and sprinkle it generously with crushed nuts.

Its so easy to make and is ready in just a couple of minutes. Totally worth it and perfect when you want to make your guests happy :-)

Happy cooking!!!

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Just cake!!! :-)

The first thing I ever baked was a plain vanilla cake.
Simple and Yummy.
My mum used to take cake orders a looong time ago and she always used this recipe. Everyone loved it. Sometimes when she would be busy baking in the kitchen I would go down and watch her. So did my siblings.
We always had an ulterior motive. As soon as she was done with the batter, the three of us kids used to fight over who gets to lick the remaining batter up! The spoons, the mixing bowl...
yes the good ol' days when calories was a word that I hadn't even heard of :-D

For me it was especially nice when mum would add some cocoa to the recipe (for marble or chocolate cake). That was when I would REALLY try and get the mixing bowl which had most of the batter in it!!!
Over the years, this simple recipe has been the most popular.
We sometimes ice it with buttercream or chocolate dropping, but I like it plain.
Plain cake with tea. My favourite :-)

So here I'm going to share the recipe with you.
It's ridiculously easy and NEVER goes wrong. Best of all, it takes a total of an hour maximum from when you enter the kitchen to make the batter to when it comes out of the oven.
Smells amazing, looks amazing and tastes delicious!!

4 eggs
8oz self- raising flour
8oz caster sugar
8oz margarine
Vanilla essence

Preheat the oven at Gas mark 4
Beat the sugar and the margarine with a hand-held mixer until the mixture becomes light and fluffy.
Add in the eggs one at a time and carry on mixing it.
Once the mixture is blended in together, add in the flour in additions.
keep mixing it.
Finally, add a few drops of vanilla essence in to the mixture. Mix it a little more and then pour it in to a greased tin. (I usually also line it with Baking parchment).

You can simply add some cocoa to the batter once its all ready to make it chocolatey. Or you could add cocoa to half the mixture and make it into a marble cake.
You choose. :-)

To prevent the cake from being dry, make sure not to over bake it.

Place it in the centre of the oven and let it bake for about 40 minutes. To check when the cake is ready, pierce it with a skewer. If it comes out clean, the cake is ready :-)

This cake is always a winner and everybody enjoys it. Its perfect for birthday cakes or for any occasion!!

Just enjoy :-)


Sunday, 16 October 2011

Black Magic cake

Last week we were in dire need of some baked goods. Seriously, there was NOTHING in the house- and the Taste tester and I don't really like having ready made stuff anymore. I guess its nice to know exactly what goes in to your food and who makes it. (Thats just a personal preference).
Anyway, since I've started studying again, alongside the freelancing work that I do, things have been crazy crazy!!
I was finally free for an hour and really wanted to bake something quick that I could finish in an hour, so that I could fit in a trip to the gym before the Taste tester got home.
I spent about 10 minutes searching the internet for the quickest recipe I could find and ended up in the Hershey's Kitchen website.
You've probably noticed that many times the recipes I choose to try out are just that, quick and easy.
Every now and again I like to try something complicated or a bit more time consuming- but right now I just didn't have any time for that!

The Black Magic cake is a simple, dark, light, fluffy, gorgeous, coffee-ish, chocolatey cake.
Yumminess :-)
The recipe was ridiculously easy and I had it in the oven in just about 10 minutes- and it spent just about 40 minutes inside. Brilliant.
I wanted a light frosting- something sweet but not heavy and with a hit of coffee in it.
You really need something extra coffee flavoured in the frosting because the cake just by itself is not very sweet and the chocolateyness somewhat overpowers the coffee.
It was worth a try. The Taste tester and his friends were very happy with it...
and that made me happy :-)

p.s excuse the hideous photographs

The texture was almost exactly like that of the
'Perfectly Chocolate'
cake that I made cupcakes out of-
so it would work well as cupcakes too!!

2 cups sugar
3/4 cup Hersheys cocoa
1 tsp baking powder
2 eggs
1 cup strong black coffee or 2 tsps powdered instant coffee plus one cup boiling water
1 tsp vanilla extract
1-3/4 cup all purpose flour
2 tsps baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 cup buttermilk/ sourmilk*
1/2 cup vegetable oil

Heat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour two 9-inch round baking pans or one 13x9x2-inch baking pan. 
Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt in large bowl. Add eggs, buttermilk, coffee, oil and vanilla; beat on medium speed of mixer 2 minutes (Batter will be thin). Pour batter evenly into prepared pans.
Bake 30 to 35 minutes for round pans, 35 to 40 minutes for rectangular pan or until wooden pick 
inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool 
completely. Frost as desired. Yields 10 to 12 servings

* To sour milk: Use 1 tablespoon white vinegar plus milk to equal 1 cup.

For the Frosting, I simply whipped up some double cream with sugar (according to taste), some cocoa powder and ground coffee.
It was perfect :-)
You could use buttercream or any frosting you like. Its totally up to you :-)
I didn't have much time so I just cut the cake in to half, filled the centre with some cream and then covered the whole thing with it after placing the top half on top of the bottom half. No time to be neat but that's how I like it anyway!!
For such a quick recipe, the results were totally worth it!!!


Saturday, 1 October 2011

Banana fritters...and a dedication :-)

I've never understood the concept of a secret ingredient.
Sure, in a large scale production when there is competition between businesses- well that's business!- but in every day home cooking and baking?
One of the nicest, warmest feelings is when you decide to follow a recipe for something that you've really been wanting to make and the final result is a success.
That's why I love NIgella Lawson's recipes, her recipes never fail me!! The results are exactly what you see in the recipe book and what you imagine them to be like.

Anyway, this post is not about Nigellas recipes, its about someone else.

This is dedicated to a very very special cook. Someone who comes up with the most delectable recipes and is so willing to share them to the rest of the world. Helping people become better in the kitchen. Never holding back ANY advise and sharing even the tiniest details, that make such a big difference to us novices in the kitchen.

From the traditional African cuisine that I grew up with, to the modern dishes that you always wished you knew how to make, she has all the perfect recipes!

The other day I came across her recipe (among a million of her other methods) for banana fritters.
Yes, something so simple that is so easy to whip up in the kitchen.
We were planning to go visit a friend, and even though we had decided with such short notice, I really wanted to take a sweet snack for them, and so I chose this recipe.
I have tried making banana fritters before from various other recipes that people have shared with me, but none gave results like this one did.

Light, fluffy and perfectly balanced in sweetness and in flavour, this fritters were amazing!!!
The batter was so simple to put together and I loved the fact that it had to be shallow fried rather than the whole deep frying mess.

I know this is simple and straightforward, but its just one of her many many recipes I have followed that has come up with awesome results.
I have mentioned her on this blog before, but I will once again.
Thankyou Fauzia, in all sincerity...from all of your Page followers who love dabbling in the kitchen. You've taught us a lot..and we're really grateful for that!! 

So here goes the simple and straightforward recipe with yummy results :-)


3 medium ripe bananas, peeled and mashed with a fork then drizzled with lemon juice to prevent discolouration
A quarter cup sugar (more if you like them sweeter but I find this just the right amount coz ripe bananas are already sweet enough and you might drizzle or sprinkle something over them when serving!)
1 egg, lightly whisked
2 level cups flour
1 level tbsp baking powder
2 tbsp rice flour (optional: gives an extra crunch)
quarter tsp salt
half tsp cinnamon powder
half tsp vanilla essence
quarter cup milk


Beat the sugar, egg, vanilla and cinnamon until very nice and frothy. Add the mashed bananas and mix until well incorporated

Whisk the flour with the salt and baking powder, then gently add it into the mixture and stir. Add your milk a little at a time, until the mixture is of a consistency whereby you can pick and shape into balls using a spoon. If you need more than a quarter cup, it's ok...go ahead and add. Don't let the batter get too watery though! :)

Heat some oil in a pan, then gently using two spoons, pick a small amount of batter and ease it into the hot oil. Keep the heat on low coz they get brown very quickly. Try getting the fritters small so that they get done nicely. Once the underside is brown, gently turn them over.

Enjoy these yummy delights..with icecream, fruit, custard..or the way I love it- just as it is!!!
Perfect for breakfast or a yummy evening treat!!!

Check out Fauzia's amazing facebook page here
or check out her brand new blog here- its at its early stages but I am sure it will soon become bigger and successful as ever!!!
Try out her recipes..I guarantee you won't go wrong!!

Enjoy yourselves :-)


Saturday, 24 September 2011

Apple Traybake

Towards the end of Shahr Ramadhan every year, our mosque holds an auction to raise money for various causes. Its a fun time, when everyone bakes different cakes and make desserts to sell.
This year, I wasn't sure if I was going to go. I spent the entire day working on my designs and finishing my chores and by 4pm I was finally free.
I honestly didn't want to miss the auction and I really really wanted to bake something- even if it was simple.

I've mentioned the Good Food baking application on my iPod before. It has so many recipes..some which turn out good while the others..not so good. But hey, its fun to try baking the different things!!
Anyway, I have professed my love for cooked apple before, and I really thought about making something with it.
Apple pie? Apple Crumble? Apple Dappy?
I had seen a recipe for an Apple Traybake and thought I would give it a go.
The recipe was quick and simple enough for it to be ready in an hour or so.

It looked great and smelled lovely, but truthfully, I didn't get a chance to taste it. I cut most of it up for the auction and gave the rest to a friend who always loves to taste the results of my random baking sprees. There wasn't much point leaving any for home because since it was summer, we mostly lived on cold drinks rather than eating anything after breaking our fasts.

It did receive some good feedback though and the friend who isn't a fan of cooked apple also loved it.

Anyway, I thought I may as well share the recipe.
After looking at it, I think that the next time I bake it I might add some mixed spice or cinnamon to give it a flavour boost.

It was way too simple!!!


450 grams cooking apple (such as Bramley)
juice of 1/2 lemon
225g butter, softened
280g golden caster sugar
4 eggs
2tsp vanilla extract
350g self raising flour
2tsp baking powder
demerara sugar, to sprinkle

Heat oven to 180C/fan 160C/gas 4. Butter and line a rectangular baking tin (approx 27cm x 20cm) with parchment paper. Peel, core and thinly slice the apples then squeeze the lemon juice over. Set to one side.

Place the butter, caster sugar, eggs, vanilla, flour and baking powder into a large bowl and mix well until smooth. Spread half the mixture into the prepared tin. Arrange half the apples over the top of the mixture, then repeat the layers. Sprinkle over the demerara sugar. 3 Bake for 45-50 mins until golden and springy to the touch. Leave to cool for 10 mins, then turn out of tin and remove paper. Cut into bars or squares.

Serve it warm with vanilla ice cream or custard and enjoy!! :-)