“Out of an African Kitchen: Recipes and Stories”
I was sent this remarkable book. Its sender described it as ‘a quirky anthology of recipes, reminiscences, anecdotes, and stories from a bush kitchen set high up on the edge of the Great Rift valley overlooking Kenya’s lovely Maasai Mara Game Reserve’. Published last year by Struik Lifestyle/ Penguin Random House South Africa, it’s a treasure trove of magnificent photos and beautiful food. It celebrates the 17 Chefs at Angama Mara, one of the world’s great ‘glamping safari camps. “Glamping” is defined by the Cambridge Dictionary as “a type of camping that is more comfortable and luxurious than traditional camping. The word is a mixture of ‘glamorous’ and ‘camping’.” And from the look of its photographs, Angama Mara is the very definition of ‘glamping’.
What to cook from an array of great Kenyan recipes?
From the first recipe to the last, the biggest surprise was that there didn’t seem to be anything that couldn’t be pulled off in our home kitchen. Beautiful vegetables, tropical fruits, cheese, prawns, freshwater fish, and beef –none of the ingredients would be hard to find. With this luxury of choice, I asked my contact what the house specialty was. Much to my surprise, she answered back “Best Burger in the Mara”. Now I love a great burger but really? And this one owed its provenance to Danny Meyer’s Shackburger not 10 blocks from where we live. I settled instead on something not as familiar but equally as inviting. This fantastic take on Pork belly. Rich and flavorful, tangy and luscious. But the crowning joy was its incredible crispy rind, mango pan glaze, and cold apple sauce on the side.
What is the basis for Kenyan Cuisine?
Angama Mara employs 17 Kenyan chefs. They were all tasked with representing the best of Kenya’s culinary traditions. Kenyan cuisine is deeply tied to Arab-inspired Swahili dishes from Kenya’s Indian Ocean coast. And there is the influence of Indian food itself. This culinary style was brought to Kenya by the significant immigration of Indians which began in 1895. To give Angama Mara’s chefs ready access to fresh ingredients, a one-acre kitchen garden was. Guests are encouraged to pick vegetables and toss their own salads at lunch.
Angama is inspired by the Swahili word for ‘suspended in mid-air’
Angama Mara is an owner-run safari lodge overlooking Kenya’s Maasai Mara, considered the most beautiful game reserve in all of Africa. In two intimate camps, with just fifteen tented suites, the property is tailormade for Safari days. Balanced on the lip of the Great Rift Valley, its location is unparalleled. Every one of its tented suites has a 180-degree view of the valley below. These views take in all of Africa’s Great Mammals. The Masaai Mara is home to the Great Migration from July to October every year. For more information about Angama Mara go to https://angama.com/
A word about today’s recipe:
This is in no way a weeknight dish that’s thrown together in minutes. Rather, it is a lengthy affair. It is not however very labor-intensive. The cooking time runs at least 2-1/2 hours. That being said, it is not a particularly labor-intensive dish. At Angama Mara, it is baked, and then the rind to make the essential cracklings is grilled. I used the broiler and watched it like a hawk for the final minutes of cooking. It’s hard to describe just how incredibly good this is. Here is the recipe and after it some other pork dishes to try:
Barbecue Pork Belly with Apple Sauce
A wonderfully rich, robust and flavorful dish, make this for the cracklings alone.
- For the Pork Belly:
- 2 kg. Boneless Pork Belly with rind
- ½ lemon
- 3 tbsp. Olive Oil
- ½ cup Mango chutney
- 1 ½ cups of water
- 1 cup red wine vinegal
- 2 Large onions, thinly sliced
- 2 stalks of celery, roughly chopped
- 2 carrots chopped
- 10 cloves garlic, halved with skin on
- ½ cup grated ginger
- A bunch of fresh thyme
- 2 cups white wine
- 3 cups Chicken Stock or water
- For the Apple Sauce:
- 6 Granny Smith green apples, peeled, cored and cut into chunks
- 1 cup sugar
- ¼ cup lemon juice
- Step 1 To Make the Pork Belly:
- Step 2 Preheat the oven to 425F or 220C
- Step 3 Dry the pork belly and run with the lemon, squeezing out the juice as you go. Leave for 10 minutes, then pat dry. Score the fat in a cross-hatch pattern. Sprinkle generously with salt and drizzle with oil. Rub salt and oil into the skin.
- Step 4 Place the mango chutney, water and vinegar in a saucepan over high heat, boil and whisk until smooth. Place the vegetable and herbs in a large, deep-sided roasting dish, add the chutney mixture and top with the pork. Ensure that the sauce does not wet the pork fat. Roast, uncovered for 1 ½ hours, adding more water if necessary to prevent the liquid from drying out. Reduce the oven temperature to 375F or 190C for another hour adding two cups of white wine and more water to the pan. Reduce the temperature to 250F or 120C and cook for another hour. Remove the pork from the roasting pan, and peel off the rind when cool enough to handle. Set the rind aside.
- Step 5 Reduce the pan scrapings until the liquid has evaporated and the vegetables are golden and sticky. Skim of the excess fat and add the three cups of stock or water, boiling and reducing to a good glaze. Strain the mango pan glaze and set aside until ready to serve.
- Step 6 Place the rind under the broiler and cook until it puffs up. Serve with crispy rind pieces, mango pan glaze and cold apple sauce on the side.
- Step 7 To Make the Apple Sauce:
- Step 8 In a covered pot, simmer the apply chunks if a little water with lemon and sugar until soft and tender. Purée the apple sauce using as much of the liquid to make a good thick purée. If necessary, add more sugar and lemon juice for a tangy sweet-sour apple flavor.