Sunday, June 28, 2015

Sandra Mukidza's African Luwombos...

Through a thread I started in our Food Revolution Community when I posted my recipe on making Chinese zong zi (bamboo leaves wrapped rice dumplings), I happily learned there are many different fruit and vegetable leaves used for wrapping and cooking food in various cultural cuisines. Luwombos, a specialty from Uganda was one using banana leaves. Today, I am delighted to share my friend Sandra Mukidza's home-style recipe. Sandra is a very bubbly food loving, free-spirited East African girl, who appreciates cultures built around food. She is a fellow Jamie Oliver Super Ambassador for Food Revolution Nairobi, the first ever in Kenya. She occasionally hosts intimate dinners for those who appreciate fine wine and dining. Here's my girl Sandra...

Do you dare to leave the fertile lands of Uganda without trying out this audacious Baganda delicacy. Bagandas are a Bantu ethnic group native to Buganda, a sub-national kingdom within Uganda. Luwombos were originally a gourmet meal for the royals, but today, it's a traditional food served during traditional ceremonies. What really attracts me to this style of cooking is the aroma given off by the banana leaves through the steaming. This popular sub-Saharan dish is easily found in restaurants that specialize in African cuisines within the region. There are different variations to this orgasmic dish; from chicken, beef, mushrooms and ground nut sauce, with some versions adding carrots, potatoes and tomatoes-- you can really have it however you like. It'll still end up divine. For me, I only use a few simple ingredients for delicious results.

When you cook from the soul, you don't need measuring cups and spoons. But here is a guideline to those who wish to try their hands in making my beautiful recipe at home.

Sandra Mukidza's Luwombos
Makes 6-8 servings

2-4 banana leaves (find packaged in the frozen section of most Asian supermarkets), thaw and cut into several large pieces (for wrapping and lining the pot)
8 green bananas (unripened regular bananas)
1 large red onion, chopped
2 lbs. goat meat (or use chicken or beef), cut into bite sized pieces
Salt and ground black pepper

Oil hands slightly to avoid stickiness of bananas in palms when peeling them. Slice bananas
 and boil until soft; drain excess water then lightly mash with back of spoon. 

Clean leaves by rinsing and wiping down any residue on both sides. Pre-cook meat by first boiling or browning until done or almost done. * I prefer browning, as it's more tasty* 

Place goat meat, mashed bananas, onions in the leaf, sprinkle with seasoning, then fold leaves up and around to enclose contents securely; tie with kitchen string. Or do as I do, and leave the onions out to serve them with the cooked luwombos raw. Make 6 to 8 bundles.

Banana fibres are used to tie the luwombo bundles.

Fill a medium pot with a few inches of water and line the pot with banana leaves, place the luwombos inside then cover with more banana leaves. Cover with lid and allow to simmer for one hour. Ensure there is always some water at the bottom to facilitate the steaming. Serve straight from pot while still hot.

Susan says, "Mmm... so simple but so delightful! I'd like the bite of raw onions with the soft textures too!"

As for other wraps with leaves, fellow Food Revolution Super Ambassador Argentina Chef Maria Elena shares an Andean version to make tamales using corn leaves filled with pumpkin and pork meat.

I was most impressed with the list of different leaves one can use for wrapping food commented by ambassador Mithun BU from Mysore, India. He has steamed sweet stuffed rice balls wrapped in Turmeric leaves and describes it as a heavenly flavour. Then there are Jackfruit leaves used to steam rice cake, Teak leaves used to wrap jackfruit dumplings, and Colocasia leaves stuffed with rice, tamarind and Indian spices to make "Patra or Patrode" a vegetarian West Indian dish.

On Food Revolution Day this year, Sandra cooked up Jamie Oliver's Squash-It Sandwich from scratch with a school of kids. See here for her pictorial album.

 !Thank you Sandra for sharing your family tradition with a great recipe with us

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