An “English” meal with a “Zambian” twist
Growing up outside of Zambia, my parents always tried to instil “Zambian” culture in my sister and I; they never wanted us to forget our roots. One way that they did this was my feeding us Zambian food. Although it did take me a while to like Zambian food, as I got older I started enjoying it a lot more. This is probably because I found my own way of incorporating it into my “westernised” diet. Through experimenting in the kitchen I found subtle ways to spice up the same traditional food; so much so that even my mum was inspired to add a bit of pizzazz to her cooking – I mean I literally invented the Kapenta sandwich… (And that’s copy written before anyone tries to steal that idea).
Today I wanted to show you one of the ways that I mix up the two cultures; and maybe inspire you with this lovely and filling rice and chicken with Zambian spinach. What makes the spinach Zambian is the fact that it is cooked with ground nuts. It can be eaten with nshima if preferred, but as you all know I prefer to save my nshima for “special occasions”.
Cooking & Preparation: 1 hour
Serves 4 people
- Long grain white rice
- 4 Chicken thighs
- 450g of Spinach
- Tinned tomato
- 1 medium Onion, chopped
- ½ cup of pounded ground nuts
- Vegetable oil
- Chilli flakes (optional)
- Powdered garlic
Preheat the oven to about 180 – 200 ? C. Marinate your chicken thighs with, salt pepper, paprika, garlic and chilli flakes (optional). You have free reign over the amount of seasoning you put on your chicken, so season it to your heart’s content. Place the chicken thighs on a baking tray, drizzle a tbsp of vegetable oil over them and bake them in the oven until fully cooked through.
Cook the rice – In a saucepan or pot, boil water and salt, once the water is bubbling add rice and boil whilst uncovered, for about 8 minutes; without stirring, until the surface of rice is covered with steam holes and the grains at the top appear dry. Reduce to a low heat, and cover the pot with a tight-fitting lid – cook for 15 more minutes, or according to the instructions on the packet. Remove the pot from the heat and let the rice stand; you can fluff it with a fork to make sure it is cooked.
Now prepare your spinach. In a pot add about 2 cups of boiling water and some salt. Once the water is bubbling, add your spinach and allow it to boil for about 2 minutes, or until it is fully cooked. Add a tablespoon of vegetable oil, half the chopped onion, and about ½ a tin of tomato to the spinach and stir it well. Now add your pounded ground nuts and stir. Allow the ground nuts to cook; you will be able to tell that they are cooked, because they will change from a white colour to a creamy-yellow colour. Stir regularly until the vegetable and ground nuts are cooked.
Once the chicken is cooked, make your gravy using the chicken juices from the baking tray. Add the remaining chopped onion and fry it, and then add the remaining tinned tomato and cook it until the gravy starts to thicken. Now add 2 tsps of tomato paste, and some water (if the gravy is too thick) all the while stirring. Reduce the heat and allow it to simmer and thicken.
Serve your steaming hot fluffy rice, with your juicy baked chicken, traditional spinach and gravy drizzled over the top; perfect for lunch or dinner, you and the family will be sure to enjoy this.
Kanta Temba is a cake maker and decorator. She is also the owner and founder of Kanta Kakes – cake shop.
You can find her work on www.kantakakes.com. Follow her on twitter @KantaKakes and Instagram @KantaTemba.