It was 1999 and me and my best friend Ngina were playing outside. Her cousin,Shena, had just come back from the coast and ofcourse, with plenty of goodies. One of the things she brought were ukwaju (tamarind). To us they looked like dates. And if they looked like dates, and felt like dates, then they had to taste like dates…How wrong we were. After puting a handful into our mouths, it was not long before we spat them out. They were so sour. So much so that our tongues kept zinging. LOL. I vowed never to eat sour ukwaju ever again, and wondered why people even liked them.
Now, older and wiser, I have learnt how to use this sour ingredient. After my eldest sister brought them home after some days at the coast, I decided to give it a try. This totally paid off!
One of the things I love about cooking is that you can transform one ingredient and have it in so many ways. For fish, you can have it fried, stewed, stuffed in bread, made into a patti and so many other different forms. In Kenya, fish is usually fried or stewed unfilleted and in many times whole. I love fish, and to be honest, I can have it which ever way it is served.
Today I made one of the tastiest fish I have ever had. It was filleted and I stewed it in coconut milk, garlic and lemon. Read on to know exactly how this went down:
I have spent the better part of my life in one of the most vibrant suburbs in Nairobi – Lang’ata. Besides the fact that you can literally find everything at your door step (something I absolutely miss), Lang’ata seemed to come alive in the evenings. At dusk, these suburb streets filled with people rushing from work, clicks of youth lazily strolling, school children in their school uniforms and music-blasting matatus making their rounds. Street food vendors would erect their stands, prepare their food and serve the awaiting customers. The aromas that filled the cool evening air were those of roast maize, mutura, mshikaki and bhajia. I fondly remember the ladies who sold fried fish. With their wide grins and eager eyes, it was almost impossible to pass them by without buying some fish for yourself. These were the memories playing in my mind as I made this coal grilled tilapia fish fillet. It soaked in a rich marinade before cooking and this played up its flavor.
If you love fish, you will fall head over heels with this recipe that I got from one of my favorite chefs, Ina Garten. And if you do not like fish, I will make you a believer!
At times , in the midst of all the craziness of everyday life, it is important to take a step back and look within to what makes us who we are, rediscover who we want to be and to let others into our mind and world. This post incorporates that and I hope you will learn a bit more about the girl behind your screen.