Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Burundi

Ugh...since starting this journey, Wikipedia has changed the way they list the sovereign states.  Before the non-UN members were separated, now they aren't.  Abkhazia is now first.  What?  Where?  Exactly.

I plan to proceed as before.  If a new recognized country pops us, like South Sudan, they will certainly be included.  However, Nagorno-Karabakh isn't recognized by any UN member states, and I am not going to include it.  For now.  We'll see about later.  I need to draw the line somewhere.

Burundi

Background: After 100 days in office, the first democratically elected president of Burundi was assassinated.  This led to a conflict that lasted almost 12 years and took the lives of more than 200,000 Burundians
Location: Central Africa
Area: Over 27,000 sq km; 147th largest in the world
         Slightly smaller than Maryland
Population: Over 10.2 million; 81st largest in the world
                  It is estimated that only 2.5% of the population is 65 and older
Population Growth Rate: 3.5%; 5th largest in the world
Capital: Bujumbura
Life Expectancy at Birth: 58.78 years; 190/222
HIV/AIDS in Adults: 3.3%; 21st highest in the world
Per Capita GDP: $300; Lowest in the world
Source: CIA Factbook

Given my history with the recipes of small African nations, I wasn't so sure what would happen with Burundi.  The first dish I found was seafood, so that was out.  I promise I am getting better, but I'm not quite there yet.  Then I found multiple mentions of a dish called Boko Boko Harees.  It sounded good, but also oddly familiar.  I searched my memory and did some research.  Harees and harissa share a Wikipedia article.  Harissa.  What I made for Armenia.

So how did it end up in Burundi?  Apparently the commonality here is the Middle Eastern influence.  This article explains a bit, but I still feel like there are some questions.  Where is the origin?  Is it common everywhere with an Arabic influence?

And more immediate, should I make it?  It is so similar to what I had previously done.  Wasn't I supposed to be trying new things?  But there were a few differences - I would get to use ghee for the first time.  There were spices in this version.  I decided, in the end, this is exactly what I wanted.  I could learn how the same dish is interpreted differently by different countries.  What better way to really experience the diversity of the world?  So I had my recipes, and even some leftover bulgur wheat.  Oh happy day.

Plus, I found a dessert recipe: Date Banana Mix.  I'm not entirely sure about authenticity, but since it is the secondary, I wasn't as worried.  It was listed as Burundian and therefore good enough

After soaking the wheat for a few hours, I got Kevin to help speed up the meat defrosting, and took my first few steps.
I'm getting pretty good at this soaking thing.
I didn't tell him the picture was done and he almost made it overflow.
 Not wanting to grate the onions, I took out my handy-dandy food processor.
Cutting it into smaller portions makes the job much easier.
At this point I have the chicken, onion, water, and salt in a pot, getting to boiling.  I used this time to start working on the dessert dough.

Now, the first step reads "Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy."  Steps like this make me realize how little I really know about cooking.  And I'm the one writing the blog.  Scary.

I took the butter right out of the fridge for this step.  Didn't warm it, didn't let it get to room temperature.  Sometimes recipes don't include steps because they aren't well written.  Sometimes they don't include them because they are common sense.  I often have a problem with these.  :-(
Not getting light and fluffy.
This is what I ended up with.
Recommendation: if you need to mix butter, at least let it soften a bit.  Otherwise your mixers will only get through a little bit at a time and you will end up with a mess.  Learn from my mistakes.

I worked through all of the dough, and then I had to move to the chicken.  Kevin took over the rest of the dessert.  What a good husband.
I was worried it was going to be too dry, but it came together quite well.
First and foremost an engineer.  Here he is trying to figure out if the pan measurement was for the bottom or top of the pan.
What beautiful work.  Our pan was smaller than the recipe called for.
If you look closely (nope, closer...), the chicken recipe called for "turmeric paste" not just turmeric.  eHow told me how to make it.  Basically, one part turmeric to two parts water.  Heat.  Stir.  Paste.  I halved the chicken recipe, so mine ended being up a very...quick job.
The end result.  I think if I had made more the consistency could have been different.
When I scraped it up, this is what I got.  Actually kinda like paste!
I was also left with this.  When I added water to the next part, I ran it over the pan first to get up the leftovers.  See?  I know a few tricks.
Kevin was still working diligently on the dessert.  It required a lot of chopping.  He very similar to me and likes things laid out.  There was no mention of sizes or whether the ingredients should go in in layers or not.  Why do they never tell you?
Neither of us has worked with dates much before, so it was a new experience.
He wanted to make sure you saw the overkill knife he was using due to the dishes situation.  There were also some captions I was spefically NOT allowed to put...
Very neat and ordered.
Due to the unevenness of a layer of dates, the top was more difficult.
After the Date and Banana Mix was ready to go in the oven, I let Kevin go off and play on the computer.  One he had done a lot of work.  And two, I didn't want him to see what I had to do next.
The recipe calls for giblets, but I had to make due with what I could find.  I remember my mom greatly enjoying them, but they are new to me.  Yay to adventures!  I just picked a few pieces out and went for it.  I wasn't sure how much a "set of giblets" would equate to, so I just made it up.
Mmmm...chicken pieces.
I wanted Kevin in the other room so that there wouldn't be a bias from knowing what he was eating.  He obliged and continued to be my geeky husband.
Take the galaxy from the Empire, Jedi!
Tesla wants to be an architect when he grows up.
Kevin titled this one the "World's Most Expensive Pillow."
After the chicken was done boiling, I had to let it sit for a bit so it wouldn't burn me.  If there is still any amount of steam, just wait.  Trust me.  This allowed for some cleaning and finishing touches.
The difference between Kevin and me.  Note the banana peels and things still all sitting out.
Sweet turmeric sauce = complete!
Shredding the chicken by hand isn't too bad if it is cool enough, but it is a bit tedious.
The pile is bigger than it appears.
Do you know what ghee is?  Thanks to the international food I have been researching and some of the blogs I read, it is something I have been aware of for a while.  I have never gotten to use it before, though.  It is a clarified butter.  Yay delicious flavor!  It added a wonderful smell.

At this point I'm just supposed to add the ghee and serve, but the consistency was all wrong.  Instead of "thick dough" it was watery and not very cohesive.
I kept putting it on for more time, but it only helped marginally.  We finally just had to go for it and set the table.
Kevin and the dessert he mostly made.
Boko Boko Harees, with the sweet turmeric sauce mixed in.
You may notice there are no fried onions even though the recipe called for them as a side.  YOU ARE RIGHT.  We probably weren't going to eat it, so it wasn't worth wasting the food.  Sometimes you have to know your limitations.

The dish was a solid meh.  It was (obviously) very similar to the Armenian dish, but not quite there.  The sweet turmeric definitely added flavor, but not enough to elevate to a "would ask for this" status.  I can definitely see how this would help you get some nutrients and substance when it is needed.  Similar to the dish from Armenia, it could be versatile with different spices and additives.  Edible.  Not bad.  Not great.

The dessert, however, was excellent.  The dough was good and still had some fluff left.  The banana gave a nice texture and the dates really went well.  It wasn't too hard to make, and you only need a small serving to feel like you had your dessert.  Perhaps a good dish to pass?  International potluck!

I am incredibly excited for next time.  Thank God for moving through the alphabet!  It goes beyond just that, though, and I can't wait to eat this food.

Next time: Cambodia

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