Riz des Iles, or curried rice with corn and “fish” (Comoros)

Comoros is a tiny island nation on the African coast near Madagascar. It consists of four main islands and many smaller ones. One of them, Mayotte, remains an overseas department of France. The rest gained independence from France in 1975, though sadly there have been several coups after that. There are less than a million inhabitants, but the population density is very high, and the country is very poor. Comoros adopted Islam early, supposedly soon after Muhammad’s death. Spices are the main export, especially vanilla. It is also the world’s largest producer of ylang ylang, a sensual essential oil.

The Comorian cuisine has been influenced by many visitors and colonial powers, including Portugal, France, Madagascar, Arabs, India and Indonesia. Rice forms the basis of the diet, usually served with meat (usually goat) or fish. Some other starches like cassava, sago palm and plantains are also used. Both coconut milk and dairy are used. Spices are used a lot, such as coriander, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, nutmeg, cardamom, saffron and vanilla, which is also used for seafood and other savory dishes. Thyme and parsley probably originate from France. Various fruits are consumed, especially jackfruit, pineapple, mango, avocado and banana.

Carbs (especially starch) are very bad for my body, but eating them becomes quite inevitable when making Vegventures. This recipe seemed interesting because of the amount of spices, including a little bit of coffee. Plus the thickening with mashed potatoes. It’s pretty good, though coriander/cilantro is the main taste. Fresh coriander goes really nicely with corn. The coffee you can’t really taste, I guess it just adds some depth. I wasn’t sure whether the tempeh should be mashed or not, so I left it intact. You could also use commercial mock fish.

Tip: if you’re not a coffee drinker, like I am not, if you are in a hotel take some of those coffee single serving packs with you. They’re quite convenient when cooking something/baking that requires a little coffee.

Riz des Iles

Riz des Iles

3.5 oz/100 g tempeh
oil for frying
0.8 dl/1/3 cup water
2 tbsp dried strong-flavored seaweed (e.g. nori and dulse)
0.5 tsp lemon juice or cider vinegars
500 g/1.1 lbs white rice, cooked
100 g/3.5 oz shallots, chopped
50 g/1.75 oz fresh coriander, chopped
kernels from 1 cob of corn (or frozen/canned corn)
100 g/3.5 oz mashed potatoes
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp pepper
1 tbsp curry powder
2 garlic cloves, mashed
1/2 tsp coffee powder
salt to taste

Slice the tempeh thinly and steam for 10 minutes. Fry in oil until slightly browned. Add the garlic, mashed potatoes and shallots and fry for 5 minutes. Add the spices and 3 dl/1.25 cup water. Mix and continue simmering gently. Add the cooked rice and sweetcorn and stir vigourously for 2 minutes. Add the coriander and stir in. Allow to simmer for 10 minutes. Serve hot.

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