CHAPATI ISHIRINI NA MOJA (21), TAFADHALI (PLEASE)!

9 March

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Today was KABISA (Excellent)! I spent the entire afternoon in the home of a friend learning how to make chapati, a thin, unleavened, East-African flat bread. His wife learned catering and worked in hotel and school kitchens, and she is not only an excellent cook, but an excellent mwalimu (teacher.) I needed a great deal of coaching, and there were many delicate steps to learn and conquer.

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The ingredients? Flour, salt, margarine, and water. That is all. A dough is made, then rolled out very thinly. After brushing it with oil, it is cut into strips, and rolled up in a tube, and fashioned into a ball. Then the individual balls of dough are again rolled out very thinly, and fried dry in a non-stick pan. They puff up and cook quickly. The best part was learning a spinning technique, where the chapati is spun by hand in the pan for even cooking. The layers of oil rolled into the dough cause separation and fluffiness when cooking and keep the bread from being heavy or doughy. After two hours we had made and cooked 21 pieces of chapati!

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We cooked and worked and I learned in their cozy living room, and we talked and laughed and I slowly learned. My first rolling attempts needed correction. She made perfect circles, I made strangely shaped continents. How fulfilling it is to get your hands dirty and cook together. We then shared a beautiful meal of beans which had been simmering over charcoal in the kitchen and kachumbari (an East African salad made of tomatoes, onions, and parsley with lemon juice) and CHAPATI!

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Look what we made! Asante sana Bonface and Joysinah!

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Bonface met me at the school gates and I rode a MATATU to and from his home. My first MATATU ride! I could never ride a matatu alone (fear and safety and confusion) but Bonface took care of me. I have always wanted to ride in a matatu. It was wild! I had a perfect adventure on a perfect Saturday.

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Mimi ni Mkenya leo. Today I am Kenyan.

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This entry was published on March 9, 2014 at 5:50 am. It’s filed under Culture, Food, People and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

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