African street food isn’t something particularly well-known. I had originally hoped to put together a street food feast from the sparkly new Papa Tofu Loves Ethiopian Food zine, but alas, my copy hasn’t yet arrived- it just wasn’t meant to be. Perhaps it’s trapped on a grounded Qantas flight somewhere (I’m anticipating that it turns up on Tuesday, just after MoFo ends). Rather than do Ethiopian food an injustice by using an inferior recipe, I cast my eyes to the west of the African continent.
There, my eyes found themselves feasting on chin-chin, the west African fried cookie-like treat.
Chin-chin is formed from a dough similar to a simple sugar cookie dough. But rather than being baked, the dough is deep-fried (it’s street food, after all!). I’d originally tried to fold these into more traditional knotted shapes, but while these looked great in their uncooked form, they unravelled and fell apart in the hot oil. More manageable dice were the way to go. The frying gives these a great, melt-in-your-mouth texture, similar to shortbread- but it also gives them a heaviness that meant I couldn’t eat more than a few. Chadwiko had no such problems. I left this plate unsupervised with him for a few minutes and returned to find it seemingly vacuumed of all crumbs. I choose to take it as high praise.
Terry, as always, seemed to have pre-emptively read my mind and came through with some truly impressive west African recipes among her tester list. In a bid to appear more adult and not just eat fried cookies for dinner, I tackled a couple of stand-outs.
This vegan take on poulet yassa had a lot of my favourite flavours- lemon, mustard, and a lot of garlic- cooked into delicious, tender seitan. I can’t wait to make this again already. The jollof tomato rice, a one-pot staple dish of baked rice with tomato, thyme and garlic, was also great and the perfect way to get Chadwiko to eat brown rice without complaint.
Ethiopian food is becoming more and more popular by the second- but with dishes like these, it’s surely only a matter of time before vegans (and the rest of the world) are showing the same enthusiasm for west African cuisine.