(Jummane is the Kiswahili word for Tuesday)
Over the years, our family has (like many others I’m sure)
fallen into a bit of a rut developed some mealtime habits and traditions. One of the boys’ favorites back in Pella is “Taco Tuesday,” which usually meant either tacos proper, or some other Mexican dish such as fajitas or enchiladas. Up till now, we had not prepared tacos or any variation of them here in Nairobi. While we have a pretty wide variety of foods available at the large supermarkets in town, sometimes the familiar items are either not *quite* what you were expecting, or are rather expensive compared to what we are used to, or to local fare. Tortillas seem to fall into the latter category here. However, we have been eating delicious fresh chapati upon occasion – some from a friend, some at the lodge in Maasai Mara, and Ryan gets them sometimes for lunch at Bridgeworld College. This week, as Tuesday approached, and the “what are we having for supper?” question loomed, it became clear that now was as good a time as any to try our hand at making chapati – a traditional Kenyan type of flatbread. “How hard can it be?” I thought.
First up: Google. I have made many different of kinds of breads and rolls, and even tortillas and a couple other flatbreads, but these were new to me, especially in technique. Apparently there are two main types of Kenyan chapati – direct, and layered. We were looking for the layered ones, which are soft and almost flaky. A while ago, I had come across this lovely site dedicated to Kenyan cuisine cooked at home – perfect! The author has a very easy to follow recipe there, with helpful pictures and descriptions, which seemed like the next best thing to having someone knowledgeable in my kitchen with me. This is how my process looked:
(hover for captions or click to open slideshow)
And now, to cook them! I think that cast iron might have been easier/better for this, but we do have a fairly heavy frying pan, and a bit of fiddling with the flame got us up to a nice even medium heat. First you cook one side, then flip and brush with oil, cook a bit more, flip and brush with oil, and cook till golden.
At this point, we wanted to devour them on the spot, but in order to have the soft, roll-able quality, you are better off stacking them together, and covering them for at least 20 minutes, so they can kind of steam themselves.
The moment of truth:
I think Evan spoke for all when he said, “we cannot stop making chapati when we go back to Pella, because these are the best tacos ever!” I’m sure at least some of that is the satisfaction of meeting the challenge to make something new. Also, they were really hungry, which always makes food taste better. I do hope I get a little faster with the process though, because it took me about 2 hours to come up with 20 chapati, and there were no leftovers of our Kenyan twist on Taco Tuesdays! Here’s to more Chapati Jummanes in our future!