If I can close my eyes and really focus, I can clearly hear it. I can here the sound of the soft ocean waves breaking on the white sandy beach. I can almost smell the aroma of white jasmine flowers that have littered the lawn after a night of drizzle. I can almost feel the warmth and here the chatter of the townspeople as I scavenge the Lamu streets for my spices. If I close my eyes and really focus, I can feel the slow drift of the dhow at sunset. Nothing beats that experience!! I can taste the salt of the sea on my lips. I can taste all the delicious food they used to make for us. I can feel the sand on my toes; whose toe nails by now have the most hideous chipped nail polish as a result of spending too much time in the water. But who cares? Life in Lamu is about savoring moments that matter, not about seeking fleeting perfection. I often miss Lamu, more so when the pace of Nairobi threatens to bury me. But now that I cannot go to my special place at the moment, I will bring it to me through one of the dishes we had there alot: mbaazi wa nazi (pigeon peas in coconut milk). I hope when you take a bite of this dish, close your eyes and reeeeeaally focus, you will be on the beaches of Lamu with me eating good food all day long. Coz that’s what life should be about :DD
PREP TIME: 8 HOURS COOK TIME: 25 MIN SERVES: 3
1 cup of mbaazi (pigeon peas)
1 Cup of coconut milk
1/2 a teaspoon of harbenero chilli paste
1/2 a tablespoon of black pepper
1/4 teaspoon of turmeric
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 a teaspoon of cumin seeds
1 red onion, diced
Coriander for garnish
Salt to taste
Vegetable oil for frying
Take your cup of mbaazi and place them in a container. Add some water and let the soak for about 6-8 hours or even overnight. They will swell, and soften which will greatly reduce the amount of time they will take to cook. I bought my mbaazi from CarreFour but you can get them pretty much everywhere, even at our mama mbogas since it is grown so much locally.
Once the time has lapsed, put them to boil. This will take 30-45 minutes depending on your quantities. After they are done cooking, set them aside.
In a separate ungreased sufuria, add your cumin seeds. Lightly toast them until they are fragrant. Stay alert so as not to not burn them. Add some oil, followed by your red onion, garlic and chili. I used habenero chili by Kez Organics since it has this mild lingering heat which I really enjoy. If by any chance you cannot access it, you can use fresh chili, slit them and add them to the onions. Let this cook until the onions have softened (NOT BURNT!!!) and the garlic is fragrant.
Add your boiled mbaazi along with some salt black pepper and turmeric and allow this to cook for about 2 minutes. Add your coconut milk and mix it all in. I bought my coconut milk from Tuskys, and yes, you can get it in any other supermarket. The brand I use is Kara.
Allow everything to simmer on low heat for about 10 minutes for all the flavors to meld.
Once done, laddle your mbaazi onto a bowl and serve with your fave starch :))
Usually mbaazi wa nazi is served together with mahamri. I prefer having mine with chapati or rice since I find them more on the savory side. Speaking of mahamri, I think we are looong overdue with a recipe, don’t you agree ;))?
As you wait for my mahamri recipe, let us enjoy my mbaazi wa nazi. The nuttiness of the coconut milk is what gives this dish it’s distinct taste. But with the mild hint of chili, and the soft crackle of whole cumin seeds, this transforms into such a full bodies dish and one you will always enjoy!
Get your downloadable recipe here :))