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 :-)



Love and other Spices said...

This seems like such a lovely combination.Mahamri resemble doughnuts,don't you think? Would love to try making it,but frying part keeps me away.Your description of your childhood mornings is so vivid and nicely written.All this traditional meals make us go back on time and brings those cherished moments to life. :)

A tablespoon of This... said...

Thankyou :-) I see what you mean by the deep frying..but its worth the treat sometimes!!!. My taste taster doesn't need to worry at all though..he can eat as many as he wants!! lol...some people are just lucky!!! :-P
its worth a try though!!! p.s love your blog!!

Anonymous said...

The combination of the little story and the look of the food makes me feel it would be a good experience.
Since I am just writing a text about breakfast in different countries I like to ask if I could use your story and your photos. Of course i would refer to your blog. To bad there is no other way to contact you. If interested just write me a note on chocolatjesus09 at hotmail.com.......

A tablespoon of This... said...

^ I have replied you by email :-) thank you for your feedback :-)

Anonymous said...

Hi! What you describe here is a less spicy version of a very popular dish in the northern part of India--Chana Bhatura. The chana is basically boiled chckpeas cooked with some spices and the bhatura are similar to Mahamri! Thanks for sharing this recipe. I am going to try this too. :)

Shamim said...

Hi! I was recently introduced to this recently at a friend's place in the USA, whose family is from Mombasa. Absolutely loved it! Thanks for sharing :)

Anonymous said...

I was so happy to stumble upon this recipe! I spent time in Kenya last year and I was just thinking about mahamri and missing it! So delightful in the mornings... Thank you for sharing!

A tablespoon of This... said...

Thank you for your comments guys :-)