Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Mchuzi wa dagaa na bamia (Dried anchovies and okra)

Dagaa (anchovies) can be bought from every market in Tanzania. These are part of Swahili menu almost everyday, served with Ugali and Mchicha (Tanzanian type of Spinach). The taste of anchovies depends on where they came from. I love anchovies from Lake Nyasa, at the borders of Malawi and Tanzania; are very sweet and tiny.
When I was a kid, I came to understand that Dagaa was a meal for people with lower income, but it is one my favorite dishes. I love to prepare anchovies. You may need extra time to remove those tiny heads and cut off the intestine part of each anchovi. I always feel it is worth the effort.
In western countries, Dagaa kavu (dried Anchovies) are sold at any stores specializing in African foods, Asian, Chinese or Thai. It is also a big part of Asian cooking.

  • 150g Dried Anchovies( Dagaa)
  • 125g frozen or fresh Okra (Bamia).
  • ½ cup Onions (finely chopped)
  • 1 tbsp Garlic (crushed in a pistol)
  • 2 cups Tomatoes(Chopped)
  • ¼ ground black pepper · ½ tsp turmeric powder
  • ½ tsp Cumin powder
  • ½ lemon
  • ½ cup Water
  • ½ tsp Salt or more
  • Vegetable Oil and salt
  • Please remove all the heads and cut off the intestine part of the dagaa.
  • Clean them nicely, and then soak in the worm water for at least 3 hours to soften them.
  • Remove all the water, use a clean cloth or a paper towel to dry the water completely, if you are preparing ahead of time, then just put aside on a colander (chujio la nazi) to dry.
  • Remove the heads off the okra, but make sure you do not expose the inside of the okra, so that you can prevent the stew from having glue like texture.
  • When the above is ready, heat a tbsp spoon or more of cooking oil of your choice.
  • Add onions and fry at medium heat until translucent. Then add
    Garlic and stir for a few minutes.
  • Add cumin, turmeric, black pepper and salt. Increase the heat to
    medium high and stir for few minutes, if the spices start to stick
    on the pot add tomatoes; cook until dissolved.
  • While the tomatoes are cooking. Heat 1-2 tbsp of oil in a
    non-stick pan then fry the anchovies until almost cooked.
  • Add lemon juice and continue to stir for a minute.
  • Pour the anchovies in the tomatoes mixture, add Okra (Bamia).
  • Taste for salt, and continue cooking until the Okra is ready.
Note: Do not over cook the okra, or the stew is going to have glue like texture.

Serve with:
very good with Ugali and vegetables.

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