Thursday, 11 June 2020

WHAT WE LEARNED ABOUT COMOROS: HISTORY, CULTURE. CUISINE


The Comoro Islands or Comoros form an archipelago of volcanic islands situated off the south-east coast of Africa, to the east of Mozambique and north-west of Madagascar. The islet of Banc du Geyser and the Glorioso Islands are part of the archipelago. The islands are politically divided between Union of the Comoros (pop. 795,601) and two territories of France : the region of Mayotte (pop. 212,645) and the Glorioso Islands, a part of the Scattered Islands in the Indian Ocean, the 5th district of the French Southern and Antarctic Lands.

The capital and largest city in Comoros is Moroni. The religion of the majority of the population is Sunni Islam.

Here’s What We Learned About Comoros in Our Research:

• Comoros exists.
• It is pronounced KOHM-uh-rohs
• It is a group of 3 (or 4 depending on who you ask) main islands in the channel between Mozambique and Madagascar. The 4th island is Mayotte which voted to stay a part of France in 1975, but many Comorans still claim it as one of theirs.
• It gained its independence from France in in 1975 and has had over 20 coups since then.
• It is one of the poorest countries in the world where the average daily wage is just over $1.
• Each island has it’s own cuisine.
• There is very, very little to be found online about the food of Comoros, but what can be found suggests African, Arab, Indian, and French influences.
• It is proper to say “bismillah” (thanks to Allah) before eating.
• Though there is no legal drinking age in Comoros, alcohol is not considered proper according to Islam (the dominating religion), but it is served in most European restaurants.

As a small cluster of islands between Madagascar and Mozambique, Comoros offers a cuisine that’s about as exotic as you’d imagine. It’s situated off of Africa, but heavily influenced by the Arab, Indian, and more recently French culinary histories. This means seafood, stews, coconuts, and lots of spices in combinations that are totally trippy to Western tastebuds!.

Cuisine in the Comoros can be described as a delightful fusion of Arab and French tastes. The nation never runs out of fresh seafood and even dried varieties. Fish is served in almost every meal, particularly in stews, along with staple dishes such as rice and meat.

Comorian food is very flavorful, seasoned with locally grown spices like vanilla, cardamom, cinnamon, coriander, cloves, and nutmeg. Local favorites include langouste a la vanille (lobster cooked in vanilla sauce) and barbecued goat meat, along with other types of meat kebabs. Rice is served as a ceremonial dish along with colossal cakes. Like other African countries, porridge is a staple on the Comoros Islands, particularly one made from cassava, often garnished with dried fruits. Fresh fruit is also in abundance on the islands, especially pineapple, avocado, banana, and pawpaw. Jackfruit is a local favorite, which is a large, one to two foot long green snack widely available that tastes somewhat like lychee.


Roast Lobster With Vanilla Sauce
• 2 live lobsters, 1 1/4- to 1 1/2-pounds each
• 1 tablespoon olive oil
• 7 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons unsalted butter
• 3 shallots, peeled and finely chopped
• ¼ cup white wine
• 1 ½ tablespoons white wine vinegar
• ½ vanilla bean, split lengthwise
• ½ teaspoon kosher salt
• Freshly ground pepper to taste
• ¾ pound tender spinach, stemmed
• 1 pound watercress, stemmed

PREPARATION:

1. Place a roasting pan large enough to hold the lobsters in the oven and preheat to 450 degrees. With the tip of a sharp knife pierce lobsters between the eyes to sever the spinal cord. Crack claws using the blunt edge of a cleaver or a hammer. Place lobsters in the hot roasting pan, drizzle with oil and roast until red, about 15 minutes. Remove from oven, and set aside.

2. Melt 2 teaspoons of butter in a small saucepan, add the shallots and saute over low heat until soft and translucent, about 3 minutes. Add wine and vinegar, raise heat and cook at a moderate boil until the liquid is reduced to 1 tablespoon, about 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat, and whisk in 6 tablespoons of butter, about 1 tablespoon at a time until all is incorporated. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean into the sauce, stir to combine and strain into a clean saucepan. Season with 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper, and set aside.

3. When the lobsters are cool enough to handle, remove the meat from the claws. Detach the tails, and discard the heads. With a pair of scissors, cut the shell on the underside of each tail in half lengthwise, remove the meat and cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Loosely cover the meat with aluminum foil, and keep warm.

4. Melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a large pot, and add spinach and watercress. Stir until greens have melted down, and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until greens are tender, about 5 minutes. Season with 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper.

5. To serve, reheat the sauce over low heat until warm, whisking constantly. Place a bed of greens on each plate, arrange the lobster meat on top and spoon the sauce over the lobster. Serve immediately.

Mixed Bean Soup Recipe:

Our hearty Mixed Bean Soup is the perfect choice for cold, blustery days. Especially if you’re vegan! Packed with protein & flavor, it makes for a highly satiating meal that keeps acid reflux at bay. While you can use a single type of bean in this soup, using a variety adds interest, flavor, and texture. Soaking the beans (at room temperature for at least 6 hours or overnight) helps reduce the cooking time as well as reduces the natural sugars which are harder to digest. And because they are filled with water, soaked beans cook more evenly and are less likely to fall apart during cooking.


What Makes the Mixed Bean Soup Recipe GERD Friendly?
 
Legumes are a delicious and healthy source of protein. They are naturally low in fats and cholesterol and high in fiber, folate, potassium, iron and magnesium. Balsamic vinegar is rich in acetic acid that stimulates the secretion of gastric juices. It can also make your stomach produce less hydrochloric acid that will help to reduce the symptoms of acid reflux. We believe that eating organic, fresh beans is better than eating canned beans. But feel free to use canned beans if you’re short of time and didn’t soak whole beans the previous night.

INGREDIENTS:

– 400 g Red Kidney Beans Pre-soaked
– 400 g Black-eyed Beans Pre-soaked
– 1 Large Tomato Finely chopped
– 1-2 Bay Leaves
– 1 tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
– 1 Celery Stalk Sliced finely
– 1 Carrot Sliced finely
– 1 Zucchini Sliced finely
– 600 ml Vegetable Stock
– 1 tbsp Mixed Dried Herbs
– 1 tsp Grass-Fed Butter
– 1 tsp Garlic powder
– Salt & Pepper to taste

INSTRUCTIONS:

1. Drain the beans, discarding the soaking water. Rinse under running water, place back in stockpot, and cover with vegetable stock. Add the bay leaf, cover, and simmer on low until the beans are just tender, approximately 1-1/2 hours.
2. Add the chopped vegetables and balsamic vinegar to the cooked beans. Simmer for another 15 to 20 minutes, adding water, if necessary to achieve the soup consistency you prefer.
3. Add the herbs, garlic powder and butter. Mix well and cook for another 5 minutes.
4. Serve warm, with crusty bread for a wholesome meal.


HISTORY:

The history of the islands is characterized by colonization, slave trade, sultanate battles, and Madagascan raids. The Africans first colonized the Comoros islands in the 8th century with the presence of Islam as a civilization and religion recorded as far back as the 11th century. Between that time and the 15th century, Comoros saw the evolution of its chiefdoms into sultanates as more and more Muslim Arabs set up camp on the islands. Commerce flourished and slave trade became commonplace during what is known as the era of the “battling sultans,” which continued for another four centuries.

The islands surrendered to France in 1841 and were formally under French colonial possession until 1912. The islands were considered part of Madagascar, which explains close ties with Malagasy people. The Comoros was granted self-government in 1961, but full independence was only achieved in 1975, mainly because of the geographical position of Mayotte, which is one of the main islands in the archipelago. The island retained links with France, leaving the three main landmasses РAnjouan, Moh̩li, and Grande Comore Рas a unified nation under the flag of the Union of the Comoros.

Peace was short-lived, as the islands were plagued by numerous coups from the late 1970’s to the most recent incident in 1999, which overthrew the new government. Today, the nation enjoys peace, though threats of political unrest still linger.


CULTURE:

Comorians are strong followers of Islam, and religious celebrations are widely observed. The local culture is a hodgepodge of Arab, French and African influences. The residents have a strong regard for music and other performance arts and local artisans are skilled in sculpture, pottery, embroidery, and basketry. Diversity is also evident in the many prevalent languages used on the islands, including French, Comorian, Arabic, and Swahili.

Customary celebrations in the Comoros often feature dancing, music and the re-creation of popular and important literary texts, including war epics and tales about the beginning of different villages. Embroidered ceremonial coats, Islamic bonnets, and curtains are donned. Jewelry is also widely produced and sold.

Islam is the dominant religion, and it influences the Comoros’ culture and traditions deeply. Customs should be respected, though locals are generally tolerant of outside cultures. Many people also believe in earthly spirits and the power of djinn, which is derived from African, Arab and Madagascan traditions. There is also a Roman Catholic minority. Alcohol is not banned, though discretion should be used when drinking and don’t make too big a deal out of it.

•culled from www.africanstylesandculture.com

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