Monday, August 19, 2013

Cooking Around the World: Niger

We're on to the Ns for our Cooking Around the World Adventure. Here we go with Niger - not to be confused with Nigeria...that's up next!

A few facts about Niger...

  • The official language of Niger is not Swahili but French.
  • The name Niger is derived from the phrase gher n-gheren which means “river among rivers,” in the Tamashek language.
  • The country of Niger is one of the hottest countries in the world.
  • The Nigerienne flag is perfectly square in shape and the colors of orange, white and green stand for the Sahara desert, purity and innocence, and green vegetation and fruitful agricultural areas of the country respectively.
  • The remains of the dinosaur ‘Nigersaurus’, better known for its long neck and hammerhead skull was discovered in Niger.
  • Slavery was declared illegal in Niger in May 2004.
  • The land of Niger is slightly less than twice the size of the Texas.
  • On August 3, 1960 Niger became independent from France and was under military rule till 1991.

Poulet aux Arachides de Niger
Nigerienne Peanut Chicken Stew 

This is a traditional Nigerienne recipe for a classic stew of chicken pieces and onions in a tomato and peanut butter base with aubergines, potatoes and piri-piri chiles. Okay, I made some significant departures from the traditional recipe because I had some nice zucchini from a friend's garden - Thanks, Marne! - and some leftover rainbow carrots. Mine is more Poulet aux Arachides de Niger-inspired!

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cubed
1 leek, trimmed and sliced into coins
2 large zucchinis, cubed
3 medium carrots, cut into coins
2 tomaotes, destemmed and sliced
2 potatoes, cubed
3 T peanut butter
1 t soy sauce
1 C water
freshly ground sea salt
freshly ground pepper

Heat a splash of olive oil in a pan. Add the chicken pieces and fry until until nicely browned all over. Add the leeks and cook until the leeks are translucent and browned. Stir in the tomatoes then add the zucchini and potatoes. Add in the water and peanut butter, stirring till the peanut butter is dissolved into the sauce. Season to taste with salt, black pepper, and the soy sauce. Bring to a simmer, cover the pot and cook gently for about 40 minutes, or until the chicken pieces are tender and cooked through. Serve hot with rice. Though the original is made spicy with piri-piri, Dylan isn't a huge fan of 'hot things'. So, I opted to serve red chili pepper flakes on the side.

These Global Table Ambassdors are signing off for now. We're heading to Nigeria next. Marne just told me that she'll be sending green beans my way in the next couple of days. I wonder if they use green beans in any Nigerian recipes. I'll start looking.

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