Saturday, December 4, 2010

A Simple Goat Curry

Maasai woman bringing goats inside the boma for the night.

Cooking is not too difficult here in Arusha. I have a kitchen with most of the conveniences of home, including a gas stove that lets me cook during the frequent power outages. I can usually find most of the ingredients I need to make a dish. Shopping is more complicated than at home. I usually have to visit several different shops to collect everything I need, plus an open-air market if I'm buying fruit and vegetables. Although the fruit and vegetables are better here--fresh and picked when ripe. None of this picked green and hard for maximum shelf life.  I can't make everything I made back home, and sometimes I substitute ingredients for almost the same effect. This is a story about one of those substitutions.

I set out to make kima, a Pakistani recipe included in a Mennonite cookbook I bought over 20 years ago in paperback. I thought I brought the book with me to Tanzania, but I can't find it anywhere. So now I'm thinking it must be one of the items I pulled out of my suitcase at midnight the night before I left while trying to bring it all in under 50 pounds. 

So, from memory, I made a mental list and set out to gather ingredients. My first stop was the fruit market on Serengeti Road for onions, tomatoes, potatoes, and green beans. Oh, and one green pepper, which here is called pili pili hoho. I don't like green peppers very well, but I really like their Swahili name.  It's a local style market, but very accessible by car and with big market stalls with lots of choices. It seems that most of the foreigners in town shop here. I found everything I wanted here, except garlic. It's odd, but garlic is seldom sold with the other vegetables. And when they do sell it, it's so tiny it will drive you crazy trying to peel and chop all those little cloves.

Next stop, the Pick-n-Pay Supermarket. "Supermarket" here is more like a small grocery store back home. Here, I found tomato paste, spices, rice, coconut milk and big garlic that's easy to peel. I planned to buy ground beef, or "beef mince" as it's called here, at this store, too. I rummaged around a bit in the chest freezers on one side of the store, but couldn't find beef mince. I asked one of the clerks if they had any. She was sure they did, and after a bit of further rummaging, she methodically emptied the freezer, and stacked up all the frozen meat on the next freezer. No beef mince. But there were so many packages of this....

...that I thought, why not try it? I'd have to drive all the way through the busiest part of town to look for beef in the other supermarket open on Sunday. And I've had goat barbecue before and that was good.

So..back at home after only two shopping stops, with all my ingredients (with only one substitution), and here's how to make goat kima.

  Cut all the vegetables into a large dice. I used a kilo of tomatoes, a quarter kilo of green beans, a half kilo of onions, a few cloves of garlic, one green pepper, and two potatoes. 

For this recipe, it's not important to be precise with ingredient amounts. Which is good, considering I lost the cookbook.

 Brown the meat. Ground meat here is so lean that I actually add a bit of oil when browning it. Add the onions and garlic and cook for a few minutes. Add all of the spices and stir until the meat and onions are coated.

I didn't measure the spices, but let me estimate how much I used. About 1 tablespoon each of curry powder and cinnamon. About 1 teaspoon each of ginger, cloves, and turmeric. About 1/2 teaspoon each of black pepper and red pepper. (Is it mixing together the metric system and the old English system to have kilos and tablespoons in the same recipe? Surely metric doesn't mean you have to add spices by cc's?) The coconut milk and rice I'll get to later. And just ignore the soy sauce. I didn't use it for this dish, but I didn't think to move it out of the picture.

Add the diced tomatoes and two foil packets of tomato paste. At home, I would have used canned tomato sauce and canned diced tomatoes. Canned tomato sauce is available here, but it's quite expensive and the fresh tomatoes are cheap and very nice. So for tomato sauce, I boil down diced tomatoes and then add tomato paste to bind it together. Simmer for a few minutes until the tomatoes start to break down.

Add the potatoes and green beans (you can use fresh or frozen peas in place of green beans). Simmer until they start to soften. Add the green pepper (hoho), and simmer for a few more minutes. Put some rice on to cook. I like coconut rice with curries. Just replace about half of the water with canned coconut milk and boil as for plain rice.

Simmer for about 15 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender and the sauce is the right consistency, a bit dry, just enough to bind all the ingredients together. 

Here's my finished dinner, with heavily processed "long life" skim milk from a box. We used to drink this stuff in field camp when I worked with the forestry crew in Alaska. It's not too bad, actually. Whole milk is available fresh here, but after so many years of drinking skim milk, I just don't like the creaminess. Also, served with my Kindle to keep me company, since K2 was, as usual, working out of town somewhere this evening.

The end result? The goat mince was good. It tasted slightly different than beef, but if it was served to me and I didn't know, I might not have noticed it wasn't beef. Later, I used the rest of the goat mince in spaghetti sauce, and that was tasty, too.

Sorry, guys! (Photo by Anna.)

If you'd like to see more cute goat pictures, and it won't make you feel bad after reading about goat mince, you can click here to revisit my last post. But you'll have to scroll past several reptile pictures to get to the goats.


  1. mmmm
    made me hungry reading the blog. AND it is 1:07 pm past time for lunch.
    Will you keep us posted on a Tanznaia Christmas?
    a bit of snow here, I still have not gone out to play yet.
    (I am not anon. But I cant figure out how to add a comment.) joanie dodie lee aponte

  2. That dish looks wonderful, even if it is goat meat. Just read through your trip to the Snake Park. What an amazing life you are living!

  3. I love how you photographed the dish as you prepared it. Ski season over here and I am loving it. Carol

  4. Asante sana for this lovely mbuzi curry recipe! I love goat mutton curry too, chunks instead of mince. But we had a few goats in Iringa and one was a kid rejected by the mother that my son hand reared with a bottle, and he thought he was a dog, ran with the dogs and puppies and then practically lived in the house! I love the brands reminding me of the good old days in Tanzania. I look forward to writing a blog post in New year as a guest!
    All the best, Catherine.
    By the way have you seen Lynda's blog at Food Fun Farm Life in Africa? She lives near Arusha on a farm and writes nice recipes too.Here's the link to her blog - you may already be familiar or follow it but not sure
    All the best, Catherine

  5. Yes, I love Lynda's blog and eagerly look forward to every post! You remember a lot of Swahili! I'm impressed!

  6. Nice blog sis. I love your goat meat recipe...tasty!!!