Why, hello there.
It’s been a while, hasn’t it? Seems like it. I’m back and settled into my kitchen (and my sweatpants) post vacation, and while I technically have been home since Wednesday evening, I’ve been busy with work and life and Christmas and today I finally had the day to myself to just do the things that I like to do: yoga, cook, bake, blog and decorate, all with Christmas music in the background. Does a Saturday get much better than that?
As you may have read, last week Mama Buddha and I went down to Disney World to visit the House of Mouse. You see, we are Disney Kids. When I say “Disney” kids, I mean that we were those kids who saw and still see the magic of all things Disney. It’s a club…and when you meet another “Disney” kid, it’s like meeting an old friend. Tomato is a Disney Kid. So is Apple Crisp’s husband, Apple Pie. And Leek (in fact, according to Facebook, she’s at Disneyland today…jealous). It’s the tie that binds.
I attribute my membership in this fanatical club to Mama, who back in the day had her own membership card and a set of mouse ears, and played along at home as she watched Annette, Cubby and the rest of the gang in black and white. Little Buddha and I grew up to the tales of Cinderella, Pinocchio, and Peter Pan and were just the right age to appreciate those magical years of the 1990s (you know, The Little Mermaid through the Lion King). Even now as an adult, watching the fireworks at the Magic Kingdom dance to the music of so many beloved favorites gives me chills from head to toe.
Forgive the gushing, but that’s my rationale to explain why two very grown adults without children would head down to Disney. Mom and I were lucky enough to stay at the Animal Kingdom Lodge, which was spectacularly decorated for the holidays.
The thing about the Animal Kingdom Lodge, and Disney in general, really, is that it’s attention to detail really is meticulous and extraordinary. In everything from its rides to hotels to resturants, Disney accurately channels the aesthetics and in the case of food, flavors, of wherever it is they want to transport you. In fact, if you’re ever walking through Epcot’s World Showcase, you’ll notice that many of the cast members working in a country are actually from there and I think that’s pretty cool.
Our hotel had a “behind the scenes” culinary tour of sorts through two of the on-site restaurants, Boma and Jiko, and of course Mom and I had to do it. Food, duh. As our host, a native of Capetown, walked us through the various dishes served, I was giddy because I had made so many of them! I told Mom that I was almost as if that month and a half of my blog-life cooking Africa has just been validated for authenticity.
On our last night there, we ate at Sanaa, an African restaurant inspired by the flavors of India. Sounds good, right?
Mom and I plowed through our way through a good part of the menu by getting some of the more “sampling” type dishes and everything was great. We even got a mini-naan buffet with three different naans and twelve different dipping sauces. Naan buffet= heaven. I think naan would go perfectly as a roof in my hypothetical dream house made of bread.
Anyway, one of the dishes that really stuck with me was an Ethiopian chickpea wat. I realized that I only had one dish from Ethiopia, so this was a good excuse to add another. I meshed a bunch of recipes I found to make this and while it’s not as good as Sanaa’s, it is still very good. The one thing that I wish I had in my pantry to add was some tamarind since I added that to mine at Sanaa’s, but not having any at the present, I added a bit of brown sugar instead. Served with basmati rice and/or naan, this will transport you to the expansive plains of Africa.
- 2 TB olive oil or ghee
- 1 medium yellow onion, diced
- 1 carrot, peeled and diced
- 1 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1 ½ tsp smoked paprika
- 1 ½ tsp ground ginger
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 ½ tsp all spice
- ¾ tsp cardamom, ground
- 1 tsp brown sugar
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 lemon, juiced
- 1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes, with juice
- 1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas, rinsed.
- 1 cup frozen peas, thawed
- 1 handful fresh cilantro, chopped
- ½ cup water or vegetable stock
- Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onions and carrots and cook until softened, about 6 minutes.
- Add the spices and toast them with the onions about 2 minutes. Add the garlic. Add the lemon juice to deglaze the pan.
- Add the chickpeas, tomatoes and water, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and cook until the veggies are tender, about 15 minutes.
- About 5 minutes before serving, fold in the peas and cilantro, and season to taste.
Besides eating, I also made some friends at the Animal Kingdom: