Oman dining: Swahili recipes for Ramadan

T-Mag Wednesday 31/May/2017 15:16 PM
By: Times News Service
Oman dining: Swahili recipes for Ramadan

Recipes by Ruqayah Bahassan

1. Samaki Wa Kupaka (Grilled fish in coconut sauce)
This dish is one loved by most in the East coast of Africa. It’s usually made when we have special guests at home and the preparation is easy, and can be done prior to guests arriving.

This recipe is in two main steps
Grilling the fish
The coconut sauce.
(Everyone makes it in their own unique way but the basic concept is the same.)

Ingredients for the grilled fish
1 large fish (usually king fish or any type that can withstand grilling and doesn’t have too many bones)
For the coconut (tamarind) sauce
3 cups coconut milk
2 garlic cloves, mashed
1-2 whole fresh chillies, mashed (can be skipped depending on preferences)
1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
1/2 teaspoon curry powder
1-2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon tomato paste
2 tablespoons tamarind sauce (boil the
tamarind in a little water, sieve and use the juice extract)
1-2 teaspoons lemon juice

Marinade for the fish
1 tablespoon garlic, mashed
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 green chillies
1 teaspoon fish masala powder (or even tandoori masala will do)
1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
4 tablespoons lime juice
1 teaspoon salt

Blend all the ingredients for the marinade into a smooth paste. Clean the fish thoroughly. Make slashes on the fish, rub the marinade evenly and refrigerate overnight. Cook the fish either in an oven dish of appropriate size uncovered in the oven for 12-15 minutes on each side, turning the fish carefully half way so the fish is well done. Meanwhile prepare the coconut sauce by adding all the ingredients except the lemon juice. Simmer on a low heat, stirring constantly until the sauce thickens. When it is nearly done and thickened, add the lemon juice and mix well. Keep stirring the sauce and adjust spices as per taste. The last steps can be done just when guests arrive or serving. Put a few tablespoons of sauce on the oven dish, lay the fish on it and pour some more sauce over the fish, making sure it covers the whole fish. Put the tray under the grill for 10 minutes so the sauce sticks on the fish. Serve hot with rice or any breads.

2. Stove Cooked Steamed Veggies
This dish is light, healthy and filling for the days you really don’t want to spend too much time in the kitchen yet want a dish everyone will enjoy. It is flexible and quick to make.

1 cup raw broccoli, cut into florets
1 cup cauliflower, cut into florets
1/4 red capsicum, chopped in long strips
1/4 green capsicum, chopped in long strips
1/4 yellow capsicum, chopped in long strips
1/2 cup fresh mushrooms, sliced
1 medium carrot, sliced, bite size.
Squid or large prawns sautéed and cooked half way (optional)
2 cloves garlic mashed
1 low salt stock cube
1/2 teaspoon chilli flakes
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Parsley for garnishing

Wash all the veggies and throw them in a large pot without water. Put the garlic, mashed stock cube, black pepper, chilli flakes and olive oil and mix the veggies well. If you are adding any squid or prawns, it is preferable to cook them half way with just the same spices you are adding in the veggies. Once you have all your vegetables (and seafood) in the main pot, cover it with the lid. Set on a medium fire for first 5 minutes and then reduce to lowest heat. Do not open the lid. Just keep tossing or flipping the veggies once every few minutes with the lid on, so they don’t stick to the pot. For crunchy vegetables 12 minutes total cooking time is enough, and for a little softer vegetables around 15 minutes maximum is good. Make sure the veggies don’t lose their nutrients. As soon as you turn off the flame, remove the lid so the steaming stops. Garnish with parsley and serve hot.

3. Healthy Salad
This is a hearty salad which is filling yet healthy. Perfect for Suhoor as you can prepare everything while making Iftar and just add the dressing later on. It has got protein, carbohydrates, calcium and all the nutrients needed for the long fast ahead.

(These maybe adjusted based on preferences)
2 cups cooked pasta (any shape you prefer)
2 cups boiled chicken, shredded
1 cup sweet corn
1/2 cup shredded carrots
1/2 cup all coloured capsicum, cubed
1 cup lettuce, chopped
3 tablespoons chopped parsley
For the dressing
1/2 cup yoghurt
1/4 cup low fat mayonnaise
2 tablespoons mustard
2 tablespoons lemon juice
Salt and black pepper to taste.
White cheese or feta cheese, cut into small cubes, for topping.

Cook the pasta and set aside. Boil the chicken with a little salt, black pepper and maybe a chicken stock cube. You can add some crushed garlic if you like while boiling. Shred the chicken and set aside to cool. For presenting the salad, you can either layer it or mix it all together. Blend all the ingredients of the dressing well in a blender. Taste and adjust according to your liking. It shouldn’t be a very runny consistency or very heavy and lumpy. Add the dressing just before serving and top off with the white cheese or feta cubes.

4. Tuna Fish Cutlets
This is another traditional Swahili dish, made quite frequently for lunch or dinner or even for snacks in our households. It is perfect for Suhoor too, light but filling and can be made ahead of time.

1 tin tuna can (strained and squeezed of all excess fluid)
2 medium potatoes
1 teaspoon garlic, mashed
1 teaspoon ginger, mashed
1 green chilli (finely chopped, increase if you like spicy foods)
2 tablespoons lime juice
Salt to boil the potatoes
Black pepper to taste
2 eggs
Bread crumbs
Oil for deep frying

Boil the potatoes in water until well cooked. Drain, mash and while hot add the garlic, ginger, and chillies. Mix the tuna with black pepper and lime juice. Add to the potatoes mixture. Combine one well beaten egg with the tuna and potatoes mixture. Take small amounts of the mixture and roll into finger shapes makes about 15-18 cutlets based on size. Beat the remaining egg well with a little salt. Set up the egg-bread crumbs and dip the cutlets in the egg followed by the bread crumb and deep fry in hot oil over a medium heat. Just do a few at a time and don’t over crowd the frying pan. Once golden brown, remove from the oil and drain excess oil.

5. Tamarind Juice
This is a drink which so screams Ramadan and summer, just perfect for this coming Holy Month. It is perfect when cold and can be frozen and used like a semi slush.

1/4 dried tamarind pack (non salted type)
1/2 cup of water for boiling the tamarind
6 glasses, icy cold water
1/4 cup sugar

Soak the tamarind in the water, then bring to a slow boil. Boil for about 5 minutes, then set aside to cool. Sieve and collect the water. You can also reboil the remainder part in case you feel there is lots of tamarind left on the seeds and stalks. This concentrated tamarind strained liquid is used to make the juice. Blend this with water and sugar, in a blender. You can add Vimto instead of half the sugar, it adds a special flavour. Store in the fridge or freezer until ready to serve. Serve very cold.