Thursday, October 28, 2010
From My Parents' Garden: Sukuma Wiki
My whole family loves the nature and outdoors; and apart from hiking, berry-picking, and other activities, one of my parents' very favorite hobbies is gardening. Our house is surrounded by a huge garden, with numerous apple, cherry and plum trees, berry bushes, and a small vegetable garden.

Every year, my parents seem to find new things to plant, and it's interesting to see what their garden produces. The growing season is starting to be over on this latitude now: we have had the first night frosts, and after covering the plants for the nights for a while, we have now harvested most of them. There are still some tough plants growing outside, such as greens (kale and collards, palm kale, mangold, parsley), Jerusalem artichokes, potatoes, carrots, and the last winter apples - but I assume most of those are just hanging in there and not growing anymore, either.

Since I currently live in the city center and don't have my own garden, I still like to think of this garden as mine, too. ;) Although I'm far from being as enthusiastic a garden digger as my parents, I try to help out whenever I'm at home, and certainly enjoy eating all the delicious things it produces!

Here are a few pictures from this fall. Some of the things (such as bell peppers) were harvested a couple weeks ago, but I never had the time to post a picture. Most of the things have been harvested in the last few days, though, and several types of chili peppers and herbs have been moved to continue their growth indoors. Our garage has been filled with boxes and boxes of apples - probably about 100 kg (over 200 lbs) of them?! - and you are met with the most delicious scent whenever you open the garage door. That only includes the apples that haven't been turned into juice, applesauce, bread or pies yet. Our basement, on the other hand, has turned into a pumpkin storage (we have so much pumpkin this year that any recipes are more than welcome!). :)

These are a mixture of green snack peppers and black snack peppers. Unfortunately, I failed to take a picture of the really black ones: the one in this picture was harvested before time, as the weather forecast predicted frost.

These two were our biggest pumpkins this year. I'm glad to have a freezer filled with pumpkin puree for the winter (I just hope I also manage to bring some back to Denmark). :) I hope we also manage to carve at least one of them before Halloween! 

 The green, round thing on the right is a compost - we have two of them!

...and meet the smaller guys:

Unfortunately, I got the names mixed, and will have to check again with my parents. I believe that apart from the green Hokkaido/Kabocha (the only one I recognize), these were called Queensland Blue, Marina di Chioggia, and some other..?

In the summer, we also had hundreds (or so it seems!) of Patty Pan Squash and green zucchini. For obvious reasons, lots of pumpkin/squash is always consumed in this house. In the past few days, I have made pumpkin bread, pumpkin scones, pumpkin soup, Hokkaido fries, pumpkin butter, pumpkin rolls, brownies, pumpkin nachos, and added it to stir fries and other dishes as well. ;) Recipes to some of my favorites will follow later.

Our otherwise already winter dead vegetable garden is still full of different greens.

Under the ground, we also have tons of Jerusalem Artichokes, which can be harvested in the spring as well. Although we eat them ourselves and give them to anyone willing to take some, we never quite manage to use them all up. 


Now, on to food: today I will share with you one of my favorite and my boyfriend's least favorite side dishes, sukuma wiki. My boyfriend spent a big part of his childhood in Kenya and Tanzania, where his adoptive parents were working as UN diplomats. To him, "sukuma wiki" is like a red cloth that brings back memories of eating it in school day after day, usually served with another typical East African dish, ugali.

Of course, you can make this dish extremely boring by cooking the vegetables mushy and not adding any seasonings. However, you can also make it very tasty by seasoning and cooking it right. Even my boyfriend will happily eat this, just as long as I tell him it's "just some spicy greens" and assure him it's really not sukuma wiki. ;) Sukuma wiki may refer to any greens and my recipe to cook them is naturally not the only one (nor am I using the traditional Royco Mchuzi spice mixture) - it's just one suggestion.

Sukuma Wiki
  • 2 large bunches of greens, such as collards or kale, chopped
  • 1 large onion, sliced very thinly
  • 1 c chopped tomatoes
  • 1-2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tbsp good quality curry powder
  • 1 c water
  • 2 tsp vegetable bouillon powder (you can replace this with Herbamare or other salt, or soy sauce)
Heat the oil in a wok pan. Add the curry powder and onions, and cook until the onions turn transculent. Add the chopped tomatoes, and continue cooking for a minute or two. Add the collards in a few batches (adding a new batch as soon as the previous one is wilted), and cook for a few minutes, until everything is wilted. Add the water and the vegetable bouillon powder, and simmer, uncovered, for about 20 minutes, or until all the liquid has been absorbed and the greens have reached the desired consistency. Serve as a side dish to your favorite meal - or, if you want it to be really authentic, with ugali. ;)

That's my Mom chopping the greens...

In addition to ugali, chapati bread is a traditional way to serve sukuma wiki. We sometimes make chapati instead of injera to go with Ethiopian food as well, as it is MUCH less time consuming than injera (and, I have to confess, the first time we made injera, it accidentally turned into chapati! More about that story - and a real injera recipe - another day ;)).

This is a very basic, simple and easy recipe that you can modify by adding different flours. 

  • 1 1/2 c whole grain bread flour or whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/2 c all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp canola oil
  • 3/4 c warm water 
Sift the flours and salt into a bowl. Mix in the oil and enough water to form a soft dough (see the picture below). Knead for a few minutes, until the dough naturally forms into a ball; then cover, and let sit from 30 minutes to one hour. 

Move the dough onto a floured surface, and knead for a minute or two. Roll into a rope, and then divide into 10-15 equal pieces (depending on what size of chapati you like). Roll each piece out into a thin circle.

Heat a flat-bottomed, preferably cast-iron, skillet on a stove on medium-high heat. Do not add any oil to the skillet. Once the pan is hot, place a chapati on it. When bubbles start to form, flip over, and continue cooking until brown spots appear on the bottom. Flip once more, and press very gently towards the bottom of the pan. Remove from the pan, and brush with vegan margarine. Place in a covered serving dish, so as to keep the chapatis warm while you make the rest.

You may have noticed that I have this very same kitchen towel in Copenhagen. These towels - with some bath towels, sheets and pillow cases - were given to my dad by his mother when he first moved away from home, and they are still in use in our family today. My grandmother (whom I, sadly, never met - she passed away when my Dad was in grad school), has embroidered my dad's initials on each towel by hand. The towels are old and incredibly soft, and seem to be made of really good quality cotton - you wouldn't believe how many newer kitchen towels have been ruined in my kitchen, while these show no signs of breakage.  I took one with me when I went to college myself, and consider it a special treasure. :)

We enjoyed our sukuma wiki on these chapatis, together with some Berbére lentil stew, and topped with a dollop of plain soy yoghurt. A perfect, tasty and filling meal!

Good night and sweet dreams everyone. :) 
posted by Seglare at Thursday, October 28, 2010 | Permalink |


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