Out of an African Kitchen is a cookbook written by Nicky Fitzgerald – the founder and owner of Angama Mara. Angama Mara is a picturesque game lodge balanced on the rim of Africa’s Great Rift Valley in Kenya. The cookbook is a celebration of Angama Mara – the daily safari rides, Kenya and it’s spices that infuse it’s Swahili cuisine, the Shamba (garden kitchen – where guests can pick their salad ingredients from) and the chefs that prepare each meal.
The recipes that fill the pages come from the daily menu and showcase Angama Mara’s commitment to making sure that guests are well fed – and fed exactly what they want – no matter the dietary restrictions. There is Kenyan recipes, of which I’ve bookmarked the Ugali sticks, Swahili chocolate pots and Kenyan Quesadillas. Recipes filled with fresh fruit and vegetables from the shamba – I’m awaiting watermelon season to make the watermelon sorbet. Recipes inspired by the Mediterranean, Middle East and India, of which I bookmarked the lamb koftas with smoky eggplant, Indian omelette and Goan fish curry. Recipes eaten on Safari, of which I’ve already made the Ugandan Rolex which is a spicy omellette wrapped in a chapati. Those eaten in the Masai boma with its sweeping views of the Mara and at forest barbeques, the stokbrood is marked for next time I braai.
I have tags running throughout the length of the book, marking all the recipes I want to try. I was impressed with the variety of dishes included. While there are meat and fish dishes, most are plant based. It’s true to their promise that there will be something for everybody. I loved going through each recipe and marveling at Sam Linsell’s photography as much as I loved reading the intro to each chapter and recipe, giving you a glimpse into life at Anagama Mara.
Not only does it make you want to try all the recipes, it makes you want to head there – to the middle of nowhere Kenya where the animals roam free, the views stretch forever and the food is plenty. I visited their website, marvelled at the gallery of images and then gawked at the daily rates which are far beyond my budget.
So instead of visiting, I have the cookbook, filled with their recipes to make and enjoy while looking at pictures of the Kenyan Mara. Almost, almost like being there ?
The recipe I chose to share is their recipe for a North African Butter Bean, Barley, Sweet Potato and Butternut Casserole. It is found in the Mediterranean chapter, inspired by the African coastal countries along the Mediterranean. It’s hearty and flavourful and can be eaten alone or wrapped in a flatbread with some yogurt.
The only changes I made was halving the recipe so it made 4, not 8 portions. To increase the portions simply type the number of servings you want where it shows a serving count in the recipe below. Our handy servings calendar will adjust the ingredients accordingly.
I also left out the saffron as I didn’t have any. If you want to add it, a large pinch is added when you add the stock.
If you’re wondering what Baharat spice mix is, I used this blend (and this has been the best application of it). You can also make it yourself by combining 2 tablespoons of paprika, 1 tablespoon ground coriander, 1 tablespoon ground cumin, 1 tablespoon ground turmeric, 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper, 1 teaspoon grated nutmeg, 1 teaspoon ground cardamom and 1 teaspoon all spice. Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container.
North African Butter Bean, Barley, Sweet Potato & Butternut Casserole from Out of an African Kitchen
- 2 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 Leek diced
- 1 bunch fresh parsley
- 1/2 cup finely chopped fresh fennel reserve a few fronds
- 2 cloves garlic finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon Baharat spice mix see note
- 1/2 stick cinnamon
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 2 litres vegetable stock
- 1/4 cup pearled barley
- Salt to taste
- 2 cup cooked /canned chickpeas
- 2 cup cooked/canned butter beans
- 1/2 cup diced sweet potato
- 1/4 cup red lentils
- plain yogurt
- rotis/ flatbread
- Heat oil in a large pot and gently cook the leeks for 8-10 minutes.
- Finely chop the parsley stems, then add to the leeks along with the fennel and garlic. Cook for 2 minutes
- Add the Baharat, cinnamon and tomato paste and cook for another 2 minutes.
- Add the stock and barley and season with salt, then bring to a boil. Simmer for 40 minutes, adding more water if needed (I added an extra 1/2 cup towards the end)
- Add the chickpeas, butter beans, butternut, sweet potato and lentils. Cook until everything is cooked through and the barley tender (20-30 minutes). I added another 3 cups of water - enough to cover all the ingredients so they could cook without burning. It does cook out.
- Adjust the seasoning and remove the cinnamon stick.
- To serve, ladle into bowls and top with yogurt or serve on the side. Drizzle with olive oil, garnish with parsley leaves and reserved fennel fronds, then sprinkle with paprika.
Out of an African Kitchen was given to us by Penguin Random House and is available here. Penguin Random House nor the author approved or reviewed this piece prior to publication. Opinions are our own. The recipe is reprinted with permission, images are our own.
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