Bright African sun de­feats grey days of au­tumn

Book club savours dishes in­spired by novel

National Post (Latest Edition) - - Weekend Post - BON­NIE STERN

Al­though cook­ing is my pas­sion as well as my vo­ca­tion, it takes a good novel, rather than a cook­book, to sat­isfy my soul. Half of a Yel­low Sun by the bril­liant, young Nige­rian au­thor, Chi­ma­manda Ngozi Adichie, is the story of Bi­afra’s heart­break­ing strug­gle to es­tab­lish an in­de­pen­dent repub­lic in south­east­ern Nige­ria in the late 1960s. She was the guest au­thor at a re­cent book club meet­ing we hold at my cook­ing school each month. The menu we cre­ated for the din­ner part of the evening fea­tured foods that re­flected the im­age of the yel­low sun or foods that were men­tioned in the book. For dessert, we made in­di­vid­ual lemon cakes with rasp­berry coulis sun­rays. Here’s a se­lec­tion.


Richard, an English jour­nal­ist in the novel, has a Bri­tish­trained house­boy, Har­ri­son, who al­ways makes dev­illed eggs for guests, who are amused. Harissa is a North African condi­ment made with hot chilies. Be­lazu is our favourite brand. 12 eggs ¼ cup (50mL) may­on­naise 1 tbsp (15mL) Di­jon mus­tard 1 tsp (5mL) salt 1 tbsp (15mL) harissa 1. Place eggs gen­tly in a large saucepan of boil­ing salted wa­ter. Bring to a boil, cover and turn off heat. Let eggs sit in the wa­ter for 14 min­utes. 2. Drain eggs and shake pan gen­tly to crack the shells. Chill in cold wa­ter. Gen­tly re­move shells. 3. Cut eggs in half cross­wise and scoop out yolks. Place whites, cut side up, on a tray, trim­ming ends if nec­es­sary so they can stand up. 4. Mash yolks with may­on­naise, mus­tard and salt. Add a bit of harissa if you want the fill­ing spicy. Pipe or spoon into the egg whites. Dot each with harissa. Makes 24 pieces.


We gar­nished this soup with a hor­i­zon­tal line of co­conut milk and chopped peanuts above the line. 2 heads whole gar­lic 2 tbsp (25mL) olive oil 2 lbs (1kg) peeled but­ter­nut squash, cut into chunks 1 onion, peeled and quar­tered 1 tbsp (15mL) curry paste (Thai or In­dian)

4 cups (1L) veg­etable stock or wa­ter or more if nec­es­sary

¾ cup (175mL) canned co­conut milk, di­vided ¼ cup (50mL) peanut but­ter salt and pep­per to taste ¼ cup (50mL) roasted peanuts, coarsely chopped 1. Cut top quar­ter off gar­lic, driz­zle with a bit of olive oil and wrap in foil. Toss squash and onion with re­main­ing olive oil and spread on a parch­ment pa­per-lined bak­ing sheet. Roast gar­lic and veg­eta­bles in a pre­heated 400F/200C oven for 35 to 45 min­utes un­til very ten­der. 2. Squeeze roasted gar­lic into food pro­ces­sor. Add squash, onion and curry paste. Purée, adding a bit of stock if nec­es­sary. Trans­fer to a saucepan and add stock to the con­sis­tency you wish. Bring to a boil and sim­mer gen­tly 10 min­utes. 3. Add ½ cup/125mL co­conut milk and cook 5 min­utes longer. Thin peanut but­ter with some of the soup and then whisk back into soup. Sea­son to taste with salt and pep­per. 4. Serve soup driz­zled with re­main­ing co­conut milk and sprin­kled with nuts. Makes 8 serv­ings.


Jollof rice tra­di­tion­ally is a lit­tle like a paella or jam­bal­aya with chopped chicken pieces and toma­toes. We cooked the chicken sep­a­rately to keep it ten­der and added turmeric to the rice for a sun­shine colour. 2 cups (500mL) bas­mati rice ¼ cup (50mL) veg­etable oil 1 tsp (5mL) cumin seeds 1 cin­na­mon stick 2 onions, sliced 3 cloves gar­lic, minced 1 jalapeño, halved, seeded and chopped

1 yel­low pep­per, peeled and diced 1 tsp (5mL) ground turmeric 1 tsp (5mL) ground co­rian­der 2½ cups (625mL) boil­ing wa­ter 1 tsp (5mL) salt 1 cup (250mL) corn ni­blets, fresh or frozen 1 cup (250mL) frozen peas 3 green onions, sliced 1. Wash rice in sev­eral changes of wa­ter. Drain. 2. Heat oil in a large saucepan and add cumin seeds and cin­na­mon. When spices be­gin to pop, add onions, gar­lic, jalapeño and yel­low pep­pers. Cook over medium heat 5 min­utes un­til ten­der and fra­grant. 3. Add turmeric and co­rian­der. Cook over low heat, stir­ring fre­quently about a minute un­til fra­grant. Add rice and stir well. Add wa­ter and salt and bring to a boil. 4. Cover pan, re­duce heat and sim­mer 12 to 15 min­utes or un­til rice is ten­der. Add corn, peas and green onions. Cover and let sit 5 min­utes. Stir gen­tly. Sea­son to taste. Makes 6 to 8 serv­ings.


Cur­ried pump­kin and peanut soup.

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