Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Botswana Chow-da

New England is well-known for its clam chowder (or chow-da, as the locals famously pronounce it). The ultimate way to eat this hallowed dish is at a weather-beaten restaurant by the sea, with a dusting of salt on your skin, sand between your toes, and a packet of oyster crackers at your disposal. Walking through downtown Boston? Tourists and Beantown natives alike enjoy the clam chowder at Union Oyster House – the oldest restaurant in the U.S. – where Daniel Webster once dined (and drank) regularly at the bar. Growing up, I also ate my fair share of corn chowder – one of my mom’s specialties. (Just for the record, we are talking about chowder made with a cream and broth base – none of that tomato-laced Manhattan stuff. New Yorkers and Bostonites don’t only argue over baseball, you know.)

Blessed with these New England roots, I was predisposed to try a recipe for Botswana chowder that I found in a vegetarian cookbook published by The Buddhist Institute of South Africa. Sweet and spicy, smooth and creamy, Botswana chowder has become one of our preferred weeknight dinners and a favorite recipe to share with friends. One acquaintance was so enamored with Botswana chowder that she e-mailed the recipe to a relative in the States, who reportedly wrote back, “I never knew I wanted to eat warm, spicy peanut butter and yogurt. But I do.” You will, too.

Botswana Chowder
Adapted from
Quiet Food: A Recipe for Sanity
Serves 4

3 fresh ears of corn or 1 can of corn kernels, drained
1 cup vegetable stock
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
6 curry leaves (optional)
2 centimeters / ¾-inch fresh ginger, grated
2 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
1 stalk of lemongrass, lightly crushed
2 green chilies, cut in half lengthwise, with seeds removed
2 cups plain yogurt
4 tablespoons smooth peanut butter, smooth
1 teaspoon honey
3 teaspoons corn flour, mixed into 4 tablespoons of water
Salt and pepper, to taste
Fresh, chopped cilantro (a.k.a. coriander), for garnish

Slice the kernels off the corncobs (or use canned kernels, if you wish), and cook in the stock for 15 minutes or until soft. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the mustard seeds and curry leaves. Cook until the seeds begin to pop, and then add the ginger, garlic, lemongrass and chilies. Fry over gentle heat for a few minutes, stirring frequently to prevent browning. Add the yogurt, peanut butter, honey and corn flour mixture, and simmer gently for 10 minutes. Add the corn kernels and stock mixture to the saucepan and warm through. Check the seasoning, adding salt and pepper if necessary. Serve topped with fresh, chopped cilantro.


Your ex-office mate said...

I was reading this entry, half-waiting to read that Mark was the master chef of this recipe as it is well known that he has made it for past "dates". One of these days, you'll have to make it for me when the guys are out of town!

lobstersquad said...

loving your blog. it´s very fascinating, all very new for me. I´ve been reading the Mma Ramotswe books, and just have to make this chowder. will let you know.

Nandita said...

Going by analogies-
Bostwana=McCall SMith=Mma Ramotswe...The books have made me fall in love with i musttry this chowda'