#67: Malawi

Welcome to Fall?

Well, it’s the week following Labor Day, which in technical terms marks the entrance into fall. No more white shoes, if you observe that fashion mandate. No more “summer” because everyone is back to school now. I grew up on a traditional school year, so every year my classes would start the Tuesday after Labor Day. So for me, this is always “Indian summer”. Warm, but you feel like you can still wear capris and the days are getting shorter but you still can rush home after school (and work) to find you still could ride your bike for a few hours before it got dark. It’s like Pre-Fall. And I love it all.

THE DINNER:This week, L & A are tackling Malawi. I say that my parents are tackling it, but really it’s more my mom flying solo while I’m out of town and my dad enjoying the fruits of the labor; but you get the drift. When I was pulling recipes for her to pick from this week, I noticed two things about this African Nation: tea and fish are the two most popular Malawian foods… it was fitting then that we hold “tea time”. L decided to make traditional Malawian tea cakes of sorts called Mtedza which are like peanut cookies. They aren’t called “peanuts” in Africa though, they are instead called “Groundnuts” for obvious reasons– but it’s still a little amusing to call them that. Think about it: Groundnut butter? Yeah, it’s a little bizarre to Americans. To be completely fair, it’s hard not to call the Mtedza “tea cakes” because that’s precisely what they remind me of, Russian Tea Cakes. In fact, the recipe is almost identical to the recipe we make every Christmas of my favorite cookies save only the Russian version has ground almonds instead of peanuts (and also almond extract instead of vanilla, but you get the picture). Everything else is literally the same here, from the ingredient list to the prep to the baking. Which should bode well to speak of the ease of the recipe if they are synonyms. It also gives me the warm and fuzzies inside to think about Christmas and Russian Tea Cookies… 🙂

Mtedza Recipe: http://globaltableadventure.com/recipe/recipe-malawi-peanut-balls-mtedza/

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OVERALL COUNTRY SCORE:

Ease of prep and cooking: ONE STAR out of five this meal!
Okay, okay, okay. It’s cheating of sorts. My mom has made the aforementioned Russian Tea Cookie ancestors of these Mtedza for double digit years now… so this one ran like a well oiled machine from her end. She can make (and probably has made) those things in her sleep. I know I can at this point too. So it’s hard to assign a level of difficulty. I tried to remember back to when I very first encountered making these types of Tea Cakes and i recall that it has some tricky parts, mainly the dough is not malleable like you typically think of cookie dough being. It’s not doughy. It’s actually crumbly as hell and this can cause a novice some problems. Apart from that, they really are easy and delightful.

Best dish of all time scale: FOUR STARS out of five for Meal!!
As much as I can compare them to Russian Tea Cookies…they just aren’t. Peanuts are strange to encounter in these familiar cakes— and it just seemed off. They were however still cookies and that’s always a win. Served with coffee or probably tea, they are solid sweet tooth fare. I think we have to give them a four and still have a soft spot for the almond version that are traditional in our house. L commented, “I enjoyed mine with a cup of black loose leaf tea.  They are great served warm or at room temperature; you can even freeze some for another time. They were soft and scrumptious. A nice lite dessert or midday treat with coffee or tea.  You could even eat them in the morning with your coffee.  All around you cannot go wrong with these tasty little morsels!”

All that being said, the peanuts were unable to obtain the fine chop that the almonds can and that significantly effects the texture. Cookies be cookies though. Amen to that.

Next week we will be traveling to Central America, one place we haven’t been in quite a long time! See you in Belize for country #68! 

See you later, Gators!
– L & K

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