Monday, June 27, 2011

Around the World in 80 Dates: South Africa


Usually for birthdays Alex and I are big on surprises. We usually pick someplace fun for the other to go out. However, this year, Alex requested something different and wanted to try South African. Mandiba had been recommended to him by one of his co-workers and he asked to give it a try.

This worked out great for knocking off another country from our 80 dates list and gave us an excuse to get out of the neighborhood. (We're notoriously bad for just sticking to our little part of Brooklyn) However, if you're going to pick someplace, Fort Greene is probably my most favorite part of Brooklyn outside of our little slice of Cobble Hill. If we moved anywhere, it'd for sure be here.

Mandiba came highly recommended and didn't disappoint. It was also great that it was a lovely evening and we get to sit outside and enjoy the weather and people watching that makes Fort Greene great.

We started things off with an order of samosas, which were so very tasty! I've tried to make these in the past, and just ended up with heavy doughy lumps, these were flaky and flavorful and delicious.

For dinner I had the Lorenzo Marques Prawns, which were freaking enormous. I don't think I've ever seen shrimp so big! The were butterflied and grilled in a piripiri sauce which was incredibly delicious. They were served with yellow rice, which for me always brings back fond memories of childhood in south florida. :-)

I managed to convince Alex to get the curry. Their curry menu is fun in that you pick your meat (or vegetable) then what kind of curry you'd like. Alex opted for the Duban Bunny Chow style, because really, how can you not get it with a name like that??

After doing some research the bunny chow has a fairly interesting history, dating back to apartheid in South Africa as a way to serve take-out to excluded populations and as a way for migrant workers to carry their meal into the fields.

Basically, bunny chow is a curry served in a hollowed out loaf of bread. It can be served with a variety of meats or veggies, or even seafood as Alex got his at the restaurant.

After enjoying things so much at Mandiba, we decided that the bunny chow would be the best thing to try and cook up at home!

I googled for recipes and consulted my cookbooks, but didn't find all that many different kinds. Most of them also called for spices we didn't have or pricey things I didn't feel up to buying.

So, in the end, I completely made something up. I can't say how authentic this recipe is, but, it is a very tasty curry made with almost all local ingredients served up in a loaf of bread! We both thoroughly enjoyed it and will be making it again for sure!

So, behold, our own special version of Durban Bunny Chow, Brooklyn style.

Vegetarian Durban Bunny Chow:
*The spice amounts listed are all pretty approximate, I sprinkled and added and tasted and added more, so, use your best judgment and feel free to be creative! Remember, you can always add more but you can't take it out! :-)

1 yellow onion
1 bulb of green garlic or a few cloves of garlic, minced
1 inch piece of ginger, peeled and grated
olive oil
2 large tomatoes, roughly chopped (next time I'd use 3 or 4 to make it a bit saucier)
1 can of garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
3 smallish red potatoes cubed (probably about 1.5 cups)
3-4 small carrots (about a half - 3/4 cup)
1/2 yellow pepper diced
1/4-1/2 cup water
1/2 tsp tumeric
1/2-3/4 tsp garam masala
1/2-3/4 tsp curry powder
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cayenne
handful of fresh cilantro, chopped
1 loaf bread

Add chopped onions, garlic and ginger to a large skillet with oil and saute with cinnamon and tumeric and the cayenne until onions are softened. Add the chopped tomatoes and let simmer until the tomatoes breakdown. Add the potatoes, the carrots, beans, and the rest of the spices along with a bit of water. Stir and cover and let simmer 10-15 minutes so the vegetables can cook. Add the bell pepper, and cook a few minutes more. Stir in cilantro just before serving.

While everything is cooking, slice the bread into quarters or halves, and scoop out the middle.

When the vegetables are cooked, scoop out the curry into your bread bowl and serve!



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