Friday, June 15, 2012

Djibouti

Djibouti nurse
Photo courtesy of user Travlr on Flickr
History: Created in 1977 from a former French territory
Location: East Africa, bordering the Red Sea
Foreign Ties: Strong French military presence, hosts the only US military base in sub-Saharan Africa
Area: Over 23,000 sq km; 151st in the world
         Slightly smaller than Massachusetts
Geography: Located near the world's busiest shipping lanes
Population: Almost 775,000; 162nd largest in the world
Capital: Djibouti (Personal note: This makes it super easy to remember in quizzes)
            Two-thirds of the population live in the capital
Currency: Djibouti franc, tied to the US dollar
Economy: Heavily dependent on foreign countries due to a lack of natural resources and arable land
Source: CIA World Factbook

Djibouti, as far as I can tell, is pronounced sort of like "Shipoopi."  What, you don't know that Music Man song?  Shame on you!

Other than having the fantastic letter combination of Dj, it is not a country that comes up much in my research or readings.  They are small and have one of the smallest populations in Africa.  I thought that this would mean that finding a recipe would be difficult.  Luckily, I actually had a few options.  After weighing a few of the recipes I found, I decided that Djibouti Samosas was the way to go.  Similar recipes showed up on other websites referencing Djibouti, so I thought that that was a good start.

Also, at a recent used bookstore trip, I picked up another international cookbook.  There weren't any recipes specifically called out as Djiboutian, but I found some sides that said they were East African.  Rather than just ignore all of the recipes that weren't country-specific, I decided to go for it.  Yay Pineapple with Coconut!

I cut this recipe in 1/3, so I started with a significantly smaller dough ball than what one normally would.  Given my history of dough that doesn't call for a specific amount of water, I thought I did decently.

This ended up being about the right amount of water.
And now it sets.  For an unspecified amount of time.  Yay?  At least it let me do the other work without worrying about timing.

The next steps were easy.  Fry up some minced meat (ground beef in this case).  Add in the vegetables and spices, and you have your filling!  And I got to use a leek.  I have used them before, mostly in this delicious recipe, but it still isn't something common.

I never end up using the whole leek.  There is a lot of vegetable there!
While this cooked, Curie decided to jump into the stroller box we still hadn't gotten rid of.  I was impressed with her jumping abilities.  She even managed to get herself out!
I was also able to get some of the pineapple side dish work done at this time too.  The recipe calls for Coconut Liqueur, but the ABC store didn't actually have any.  Instead, we bought some Malibu, since it claims to have coconut liqueur in it.  To make up for the difference, I put in more than it originally called for.

The pineapple was supposed to be cut and then dressed with some coconut shavings.  Given our previous experiences with fresh coconut, I used dried.  This then was marinated in a reduced sauce of pineapple juice, coconut liqueur, preserved ginger, and preserved ginger juice.
Kevin helped!
It wasn't supposed to be minced, but this was all that I could fine.
So.  Bright.  Yellow.
When I rolled out the dough for the Samosas, the ratio of filling to dough did not seem quite right.  Way more meat than could possibly fit in there.  I just did what I could.  I rolled it out fairly thinly.

Some things I learned:
-Much better to do an isosceles or scalene triangle rather than equilateral.  It closes up much more nicely.  Yay math!
-For me, one side of the dough was stickier than the other, based on the granite countertop.  Put the meat on the sticky side - it stays closed.
-Don't try to overfill it!
Ideal triangle.
You may end with some odd shapes.  Like Virginia.
I was right about the ratio.  Still a lot of meat left at the end.

The filling step definitely took the longest.  Onto frying, which wasn't as bad as I thought it could be, especially when I gave up the "one-at-a-time" idea.  They never really turned golden brown, though.  Just hard.

These were ready!  I don't think I ever quite got the pineapple mixture reduced enough, but it was time to eat.  It was supposed to be served cool, so we still had to let it sit for a while.  The Stanley Cup Finals were on, so we took our dinner to the couch.

The samosas were decent.  A little bland.  Serving them with hot sauce, like suggested, would probably make a huge difference.  Compared to many of the African recipes I have made in the past, however, these get the seal of approval.  Kevin even let me send the leftovers with him for lunch at work, so that part was definitely a success.  A good base, could use some tweaking.

The pineapple dish was quite delicious.  I am a sucker for pineapple and other citrus fruits, so this was really nice.  The sauce should have been a bit thicker, and I could see where garlic that was cut in slices, not minced, would make a difference.  For a nice, easy, fairly "healthy" dessert, though, it hit the spot.

Good showing, Djibouti.  There was a lot that could be worked with here.

Next time: Dominica

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