Peri peri kari, or “shrimp” in a spicy sauce (Mozambique)

Mozambique is a large country located on the coast of Southeast Africa. For almost 400 years it was a colony of Portugal, which has left major cultural influence on the country. Portuguese remains the official language, even though most people speak a Bantu language as their native tongue. After gaining independence in 1975, Mozambique lapsed into a civil war that lasted until 1992, but since 1994 it has been a multiparty presidential republic. It is one of the poorest countries in the world. The economy is heavily based on aluminium. However last year large natural gas reserves were found in Mozambique, so both of these might be subject to change. Football, music and dance are very important and wooden carvings, including elaborate masks, are the most traditional type of visual art.

Portuguese cuisine and imports from other Portuguese colonies, like cassava and cashew nuts from Brazil, have significantly influenced the cuisine of Mozambique. A wide range of spices is in use, such as bay leaves, ginger, saffron, nutmeg, paprika, garlic, fresh coriander and especially fiery peri peri chilies. Peanuts, coconut, onions and tomatoes also lend their flavours to dishes. Chicken, other meats, fish and seafood are all popular, often prepared into spicy sauces. They are usually served with chutneys or relishes like mango chutney. Wine is also used as a seasoning, as in Portugal. Staple starches include potatoes, rice, maize, sorghum and millet. There is a wide variety of fruit, especially citrus fruit, and most desserts are based on fruit.

This recipe made for a relatively tasty dish, spicy of course. The brand of mock shrimp I used (from a Chinese store) turned out to be rubbery and bland, so luckily the sauce was flavorful. I had happened to buy lemon thyme just before making this, too, but it can be quite hard to find (unless you grow it yourself, garden stores often have it and it’s quite lovely).

Peri peri kari

Peri peri kari

10 oz/300 g vegetarian “shrimp” (or cubed tofu)
1 tsp Malawi curry powder
3 tbsp coconut oil or peanut oil
2 tsp chopped garlic
1 small red onion, peeled and finely chopped
2 tsp peri peri paste (or other very hot chilies)
2 medium-size ripe tomatoes, minced
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp lemon thyme (or scant 1 tsp thyme with a little lemon zest)
2 tbsp finely chopped parsley
2 tsp paprika powder
0.5 cups/120 ml “chicken” broth or vegetable broth
coarse sea salt to taste

Heat 1 tbsp coconut oil in a large frying pan over high heat. Add the garlic and “shrimp”.

Add the remaining oil to the pan and when melted add the onions. Reduce the heat to medium-high and cook, stirring continually, until the onions soften and begin to brown (about 4 minutes).

Stir-in the peri-peri paste, tomatoes, lemon juice, lemon thyme, parsley, paprika and the broth. Cook for about 3 minutes, or until the tomatoes soften and the sauce thickens.

Serve hot with rice. Makes about 3 portions.

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