Black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day; it’s what folks from the American South do. This year, I rolled out with a Kenyan recipe called Kunde, which is the Swahili word for…black-eyed peas. Perfect!
Full disclosure: I make this dish a lot; it’s easy, healthy, and delicious. I’ve made a few modifications that you don’t normally see in the traditional recipe: fresh ginger and spinach. Serve over rice, and offer some dry-roasted peanuts on the side for garnish, and you’ve got yourself a very comforting meal.
Spinach – at least one bunch, washed, trimmed and chopped
Salt and pepper — to taste
Heat the oil in a saucepan over medium flame.
Add the onion and ginger, sauté until translucent.
Add the tomatoes and simmer about 5 minutes, until softened.
Stir in the remaining ingredients, except spinach. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add more water as needed to get a stew-like consistency.
Add spinach; stir in until wilted.
Adjust seasoning and serve over rice.
You can use roughly ground peanuts instead of peanut butter if you want to go the very traditional route.
I usually add spinach, but chopped collard greens or kale would be excellent choices as well.
The book I chose for Kenya is A Grain of Wheat by Ngugi Wa Thiong’o. The main events in the novel take place during the transition of Kenya from a British colony to independence.
Colonization is a pathology that contaminates everyone and everything it touches. No one escapes whole. It’s resource extraction and untold riches on one side, displacement and marginalization on the other. The nasty truth is that you can’t exploit people without tricking yourself into thinking ridiculous and often cruel things, and those things end up hurting everyone. The author does a masterful job of telling that story, on both a personal and societal level.
This novel unfolds much like real life: in fits and starts, with you never knowing every detail of how a particular character’s story ends. There are unanswered questions, unexplained behavior, and shades of gray coloring everything. Guilt, redemption, hero worship. The need for community and love and kindness in the middle of chaos…and the twisted wreckage of people who deny those things, in themselves and for others. Beautiful, sad and powerful, this story covers all that ground and more. A true must-read!
Since this is my blog and I can do what I want with it, I’m mixing things up a little.
Even after three years of doing this, I can’t quite sync up the reading and cooking schedules for each country, which means I just bog down; I’m going to stop trying and go with the flow.
I still have quite a few meals left that I want to cook for India, but I’m anxious to get on with my reading. And looking at the big picture, once I’ve visited a place, I want to keep learning about it and making great food. No reason to be totally linear about this , since I’m doing it all for fun. Too many rules in life anyway…
So, on to the next stop: Country #19 – Kenya.
Detail of Kenya (image via Wikimedia Commons)
Location of Kenya (image via Wikipedia)
Flag of Kenya (image by Pumbaa80 [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons)