Dorah's Dinners: Peri-Urban
Continuing her food journey around southern Africa, Dorah Sitole makes a spicy pit stop in Mozambique
Maputo has always been famous for its prawns, still known as "LM prawns" from the days when people would come back from Lourenço Marques raving about the seafood. It was with this in mind that I found myself in Maputo, searching for the best prawns in town.
The charming Orlando Lipanga, then sous chef of the Cardoso Hotel, welcomed me and my travelling companion, the late photographer John Peacock. In the days to follow, as we set out to explore Maputo's architecture and cuisine, Lipanga was at hand to show us around and to cook with me in his pristine kitchen.
After many years of colonial rule, which ended in 1975, the Portuguese and indigenous cultures became intertwined. Most Mozambican cafés and restaurants serve Portuguese food, which has permeated local cuisine - and vice versa.
The first recipe Lipanga showed me was peri-peri marinade, the base for peri-peri prawns and chicken. This was at the time when Nando's was just taking South Africa by storm, so imagine my excitement as I watched the chef spatchcock, marinate and grill the chicken flatties. I knew this was a recipe I would be making many times.
The next day Lipanga invited us to his home to watch his mother, Joseffina Simbine, cook a traditional lunch. She prepared mandioca (a cassava dish), plantains simmered in coconut milk, nsima (pap) and matapa (wild leaves/morogo). Like most women in Maputo, she made her own coconut milk every morning and ground her own cassava flour to make a dish called chiguinha, a mixture of cassava meal and ground peanuts.
Cassava is a tuber that looks like sweet potato. After peeling, cut it in half lengthways and remove the string running down the core. It can be boiled in coconut milk or deep-fried to make chips, and is a lovely starch accompaniment to any meal.
200g butter, softened
6 fresh chillies, chopped
20ml (4 tsp) lemon juice
4 cloves garlic, crushed
5ml (1 tsp) paprika
20ml (4 tsp) olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 chicken, spatchcocked
2 cloves garlic
30ml (2 tbsp) butter
15ml (1 tbsp) olive oil
Peri-peri powder, to taste
Juice of 1 lemon
15ml (1 tbsp) chopped fresh parsley
Mix together the marinade ingredients and rub the inside and outside of the chicken. Marinate for at least 2 hours, then grill or braai, basting and turning frequently. To make the sauce, fry the garlic cloves in butter and olive oil, add the remaining ingredients and stir till fragrant. Remove the garlic and pour the sauce over the chicken just before serving.
CASSAVA IN COCONUT SAUCE
2 large cassava, peeled and diced
250ml (1 cup) coconut milk
2.5ml (½ tsp) paprika, optional
Salt and pepper, to taste
Boil the cassava in salted water until just tender, than drain and simmer in the coconut milk for about 20 minutes, stirring frequently until soft. Stir in the paprika, season and serve.