Monday, February 08, 2010

Recipe #41: Pino, another light (and delightful) gari dish

Anyone who has ever turned to seasoned couscous for a quick side starch for a meal needs to learn to love gari, a form of cassava meal (aka manioc, yucca) I've enthused about previously. Last week when I made the beef and chicken versions of chichinga (a West African kebab) we didn't eat them as a snack, but made a light meal out of it by pairing them with pino, a quickly and easily prepared seasoned version of gari, some fresh vegetables, and a bottle of chilled chardonnay. A simple, satisfying and elegant meal.

Since I used part of a roasting chicken for the chicken chichinga, while I was making the tankora powder and preparing the meat and poultry I simmered the rest of the chicken in a pot with water, salt, onion, celery, garlic, fresh scotch bonnet pepper, etc.  to make chicken stock.

Then, just before putting the skewers of chichinga under the broiler, I put couple of teaspoons of peanut oil in a nonstick skillet, sauteed a third of a medium chopped onion and added a little tomato paste and some seasoning (salt, red pepper) and 1 1/2 cups of chicken stock. If a Ghanaian had a little Ghana-style gravy left over from another meal, she or he would likely just mix that in with the stock or (sigh, water and a seasoning cube . . .).  I put a cup of fine (Ghana style, not coarser Nigerian style) gari in a small bowl and poured the liquid over it, stirring it quickly, careful to keep it from clumping or becoming lumpy. Then I wet a small bowl and pressed the pino into it,  put a plate on top of the bowl and turned it upside down to release the molded pino. Finally, I garnished it with what I had handy: some sweet bell pepper and cherry tomatoes. Pino is similar to, but lighter than, Nigerian imoyo eba, where the gari is actually cooked and becomes much denser. Since there were only 2 of us I used only a cup of gari, but would have doubled it to serve 4 or 5 people. It only took a few minutes to prepare, and we had a lovely light dinner.

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