My son, Tom, and his wife, Lisa, just got back from Tanzania and Zanzibar, West Africa. Zanzibar was once considered the spice islands, because it main product was spice, especially cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon and black pepper.
“What’d you bring back?” I asked as we caught up on the telephone.
“A recipe,” he said.
“A recipe? That’s a long way to go for a recipe.”
He laughed. “Seriously, I want you to try a dish we ate. I’m cooking dinner for the family tonight and I’m going to make Zanzibar Curried Chicken over Rice.”
“Sounds terrific; count me in.”
On the night of the testing, I watched over his shoulder as he methodically mixed the ingredients in a skillet. He had penciled the recipe on a scrap of paper while watching a Zanzibari man make the native dish. Tom had even brought home the “special” spices to make sure he achieved the identical results. In the event things didn’t go well, there were a few back up side dishes: a bright spinach and tomato salad, an edamame and corn combo, and the rice.
The pressure was on. It was getting late and everyone was hungry. Either the dish required a lot of preparation or Tom was being meticulous. Probably both.
The eight of us looked on hopefully as Tom added the final ingredients: coconut milk, the “special spices,” chicken, and a topping of shredded carrots. I could tell he was apprehensive about the outcome of a dish he thought was so great when he ate it weeks ago on the other side of the world. He gave it a sniff. It was smelling good. . . looking good.
But it had one final test to pass. Tom spooned up a bit of the mixture that had the consistency of a beef stroganoff. He lifted the spoon to his mouth and tasted it. Seconds later, his thumb popped up and he nodded his head in approval. Yheeeh! We all breathed a sigh of relief as we sat down at the table.
It was a splendid dish–creamy with a pleasant aroma from those “special spices,” blending with chunks of tomato and chicken.The plated meal turned out to be colorful, healthy, and yummy. Pretty enough to photograph and tasty enough to repeat for a special occasion.