Thursday, June 19, 2014

Seychelles: Fish Curry and Ladob Banan {CATWWC}

Continuing our tabletop travel for our Cooking Around the World Adventure this summer, we headed to the Seychelles next.

On the Map
The Seychelles is a small island nation located in the Indian Ocean northeast of Madagascar and east of Kenya.

A Few Fun Facts
  • Pirates used to use the islands of Seychelles as a hideout. It is believed that Olivier Le Vasseur, an infamous pirate, had a treasure worth 100,000 euros that remains undiscovered to this day.
  • Victoria, the capital city of Seychelles, is the smallest capital in the world.
  • Ian Fleming, the author of the James Bond novels, named his character Milton Krest after a tonic and ginger beer that he tried while vacationing in the Seychelles.
  • This country was uninhabited until the latter part of the 18th century, when its first settlers arrived.
  • Almost half of the country is occupied by national parks and reserves, supporting the government’s various environment and ecosystems protection and conservation policies.
  • Seychelles is home to the female Coco de Mer, which is the world’s heaviest nut.
  • The country, specifically Bird Island, is also home to the heaviest land tortoise living in the wild. Named Esmeralda, the animal weighs 670 pounds.
  • Round Island used to be a leper colony. A prison still remains up to this day.

Seychellois Cuisine
Seychellois cuisine is an alluring fusion of flavors from Africa, France, China, India, and England. Most Seychellois cooking is based on seafood and chiles. And since there is very little local transport of goods, ingredients are super fresh and often directly from a garden or fishing boat. With that in mind, I made a Seychellois fish curry for dinner.

Fish Curry Ingredients

For the massalé
  • 1 t black cumin seeds
  • 1 t cardamom seeds
  • 1 t brown mustard seeds
  • 1 t minced mace
  • 1/2 t cloves
  • 1 T coriander seeds
  • 1 t black peppercorns
  • 1 t ground cinnamon
  • 1 t ground paprika
  • 1 t ground turmeric
For the curry
  • 2 lb fresh fish, cubed
  • freshly ground salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • splash of olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 zucchini, cubed
  • 1 sweet potato, cubed
  • 3 carrots, chopped into coins
  • 2 T massalé
  • small piece ginger, chopped
  • fresh herbs
  • ½ t anise seeds 
  • 2 C fish stock
Grind finely the spices together in a mortar and pestle - or a coffee/spice grinder. I'm low tech! Cut the fish into bite-sized pieces, season with salt and pepper, and set aside.

Heat the oil in a heavy pan and fry the onion until beginning to caramelize. Stir in the massalé and cook for 3 to 5 minutes. Add in the vegetables, ginger, and anise seeds and cook until the sweet potatoes are fork tender. Pour in the fish stock and bring to a boil. Add in the pieces of fish and reduce to a simmer.

Cook for 10 to 15 minutes until the fish is cooked through. Stir in the fresh herbs to garnish and serve with cooked grain (I used barley which is completely non-traditional).

Ingredients for Ladob Banan (Bananas in Coconut Milk)

This is a traditional Seychellois (from the Seychelles) dessert of plantains cooked in lightly-spiced coconut milk until tender.

  • 2 large plantains or green bananas 
  • 1 t freshly grated nutmeg 
  • 1 vanilla pod, split in half lengthways 
  • 3 T organic coconut sugar 
  • 1 T ground cinnamon
  • 1 to 2 C coconut milk

Peel the plantains. Halve them, then cut in half lengthwise. Lay the pieces in a large saucepan then add all of the spices and the sugar. Pour in the coconut milk then bring to a brisk boil. Cook for 10 minutes then reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for another 30 minutes until the plantains are completely tender. Remove the vanilla pod and divide the plantains into serving bowls or plates.

That's it for the Seychelles. We'll be heading to Sierra Leone next! Join us.

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