Thursday, January 26, 2012

Comoros

History: Gained independence from France in 1975.  Since then has had more than 20 coups or attempted coups.
Location: Islands in Southern Africa, at the northern mouth of the Mozambique Channel, near Madagascar
Area: 2235 sq km; 180th largest in the world
        Slightly more than 12 times the size of DC
Terrain: Volcanic islands
Official languages: Arabic and French
Religion: 98% Sunni Muslim
Population: Almost 8 million; 162nd largest in the world
Capital: Moroni
Diplomacy: The US does not have an embassy in Comoros
GDP: $800 million; 205th largest in the world
Military: Women were first allowed in in 2004
Source: CIA Factbook

Back to Africa, where we will stay for a little while.  I didn't know much about Comoros, and didn't know there were so many island nations around there.  This is why I do this.  Learning.

Finding a recipe wasn't as difficult as it was for some other African countries, but there also weren't a lot of choices.  After looking at a few I settled on Comoran Chicken Curry, or Poulet √† L'Indienne.  There are a lot of spices.  Plus, I get to cut up a whole chicken.  Who doesn't want to do that?  Most of the ingredients are pretty standard, although I don't often use natural yogurt in my cooking.

I wasn't entirely sure what "serving pieces" meant for the chicken, so I approximated.  Read also, I sometimes took the easy way out.
I tend to use kitchen shears for this job, although I'm beginning to think I should get a cleaver.
I did get rid of the pieces that were all spine or sternum.
I decided to try immersing the tomatoes in boiling water to peel them, since it worked so well last week.  Also because I had to blanch them anyway.  Tomatoes are my least favorite thing to peel, so something had to help.

The color and consistency difference is pretty astonishing when you compare the before and after blanching pictures.  Some of the bright-redness goes away, and it feels like you could completely puree them with your hands.  I wouldn't recommend it, though.  Peeling becomes a breeze.

Kevin said that the chilies were pretty hot, so I de-seeded them.  I don't really want to take any chances with too much spice right now.
With my chopping bases covered, I fried the chicken pieces.  It really didn't take that long.  I also left the skin on, because the directions didn't say otherwise.  Also skin is delicious.
After that was done, the chicken got set aside and it was time to saute the onions, chilies, and garlic.  In the meantime, I ground up the cardamom pods I had so they would become usable.  They are really easy to crush, so it is kinda fun.

Before.
After.
After the chicken and tomatoes were added to the pan, I mixed the remaining spices with the yogurt.  In this case, I assumed that saffron meant turmeric.  This mixture got poured over the chicken.
Cumin is wonderful.
At this point it felt a little weird.  I thought there would be a higher ratio of yogurt, to create a creamy base.  This didn't even cover the top, though.  I didn't know what else to do beside follow the rest of the directions, so I forged on.

The dish simmered for an hour while Kevin anxiously awaited the start of the Broncos game.  Let's not talk about the end of it.

Tesla is glaringly white and sleeping on the laundry.  Football is not his thing.
I was worried when the hour was up and I looked at the food.  The directions warned me it may dry out.  I had the opposite problem.  It had basically turned into a stew.  I guess enough juices from the various ingredients came out that all of the ingredients were now getting boiled.  This wasn't consistent with the directions, but I'm not sure where I went wrong.
Water almost to the top.
As was foreseeable at the end, this didn't turn out like desired.  It smelled delicious, but a lot of the flavors seemed to end up in the water instead of the chicken or vegetables.  The liquid wasn't thick enough to really act as a sauce, though, so piling it on didn't really help.  I'm not sure what happened to the yogurt, but it didn't seem to have much of an impact.

Was it bad?  No.  Just kinda bland.  Looking at the ingredients, that is not how I would have predicted it.  Guess I have to do some more learning.

Next time: Congo, Democratic Republic of the

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