Chef Mwansa White: Cooking Across Continents

Welcome to Chef Mwansa White’s “Cooking Across Continents”! Today’s programme features a sweet, maple start to your day and a hearty, coma-inducing nshima closer. Let’s get started!

Last weekend, I went back to visit my first host family and cooked up a little bit of Canada for breakfast. The dish? Pancakes of course! I was already scheming about this morning a couple months prior when I was packing my bags for Zambia, adding in a bottle of our delicious, golden elixir, maple syrup.  Don’t travel without it! Here’s how they came together:

Gold Coin Flapjacks (feeds 3-4)

¾ cup flour

1 and ½ teaspoons baking powder

1 and ½ teaspoons sugar (or syrup!)

¼ teaspoon salt

¾ cup shredded cheddar cheese

1 egg

¾ cup milk

2 tablespoons melted butter

Combine up dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Beat egg and add milk and butter. Blend the dry mixture with the wet until just mixed through. Add milk to attain the right consistency – just thin enough that the pancake will spread to the desired thickness.

Where the magic began. The workbench of Canadian flavour.

Cook in frying pan on medium heat with an anti-stick agent. Put small dollops of batter into pan and let spread into pancake. Flip once bubbles have come through batter to top and popped. Bottom side should now be golden brown – if not adjust heat accordingly.

The pancakes cooking away; gold in colour and taste!

The pancakes were topped off with a sweet drizzle of maple syrup and a spoonful of raspberry jam. The taste testers claimed it a smash hit and were happy to keep the recipe and syrup for another morning of Canadian cuisine.

Starting the day off sweet (by taste and personality, if you please) is the best way to go, but closing evening off with a filling, complete dinner is the perfect setup for a good rest and another day of being fantastic. When it comes to the complete three-course sleep-inducer, no one does it like Zambians do. So let’s see how we do:

The ZNBC: Zambian Nshima, Boerwors and Cabbage (feeds the whole country)

1 bowl of mielie-meal (to match the amount of water)

1 coil of boerwors

1-2 handfuls of chinese cabbage

1-2 tomatoes

½ white onion

1 saltshaker

1 pinch of curry spice (optional)

Nshima: Bring a medium sized pot of water to near boil and slowly add mielie-meal while stirring cross-pot until water is near opaque and has started to feel thicker. It will thicken as it boils. Wait until mixture boils and observe behaviour. Target is a solid “pop” of sizable bubbles coming through. Aim to have too little and if not enough, mix a small amount more mielie-meal and water in a cup and add. Repeat until target “pop” is reach.

Cook at full heat for 5-10 minutes with lid on and then add more mielie-meal to thicken. Add in small portions and mix thoroughly (noodle armed chefs need not apply). Repeat until nshima is near desired thickness; usually so that it “goops” off of spoon and is hard to stir. End result will thicken when cooling. Dampen spoon and scoop out nshima loafs into warmer.

Stirring up some delicious “pop” (nshima). High heat, high yum factor.

Boerwors: Preheat oven to about 400 degrees F and defrost boerwors. Place coil on pan and put in oven. Cook until no longer red through. Pan should retain juices that leak from the boerwors.

Soup: Wash tomatoes and onion and dice. Drain some of boerwors juices into medium sized saucepan and add onions. Fry until onions have begun to soften, then add tomatoes. Once vegetables have started to brown, add a little more juices and then water until vegetables submerged. Boil soup and add (lots of) salt and curry spice (optional) to taste. Remove from heat when water has boiled off to desired amount of soup liquid. Do not boil to dry. Add in boerwors near end to absorb flavour.

Cabbage: Wash cabbage and cut into thin pieces. Put in small pot and cook until softened. Add salt to taste. Add more salt to Zambian taste.

Not served on the same day as the cooking above, but it’s the same delicious result!

After the hearty, hands-on meal of nshima you should be well nourished and even more so – full! Nshima is great for lunch and dinner and, if you really love it, even breakfast. Do not operate heavy machinery or expect to participate in intense exercise after nshima because you will undoubtedly be in a coma. Eater also be warned – the middle of the nshima is still as hot as it was in the pot and you will experience a painful starch inferno if not careful to eat the edges first.

Thanks for joining Chef Mwansa White for this episode of “Cooking Across Continents” and remember when in you are in the kitchen, feel free!

PS – My chef persona is a combination of two names I so generously had bestowed upon me by some friendly guys in Lusaka and Ndola. Those names are John White and Mwansa, respectively 😛

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