Mark and Maggie performed an amazing cookery demonstration during the Holmfirth Food & Drink Festival, presenting a delicious recipe to accompany the Malawaian Kilombero rice, the focus of our 90kg Rice Challenge. For those who missed it here is the transcript and the recipe from the demo.
“As we suffer from the effects of the recession and see our hard-earned cash less and less, just spare a thought for the rural farmers in Malawi. Reduced yields due to climate change and low prices mean families often go hungry. Secondary schooling has to be paid for, so children over 11 from lower income families, often don’t go to school and without a basic education they are condemned to a life of grinding poverty.
Why not try this delicious recipe -not only will it fill your belly but you will feel great knowing that you have helped give a young person a chance in life as well as supporting some great projects around the world, including one right here in West Yorkshire! Every ingredient is traceable and has its own story to which, if you are a gardener, you can add your chapter. This transforms a meal into an occasion to be shared with friends and family; I think this alone is worth the time and money involved. For vegetarians, two large aubergines can substitute for the chicken.
In Malawi chicken is a luxury. If you visit a rural family they will usually go out into the yard and kill and cook a chicken in your honour. Nothing is wasted, head, feet, and entrails are all used but the guest gets the choicest cut, usually regarded as its bottom! These chickens run free all day feeding on grubs and seeds etc and they taste completely different to the antibiotic and water filled, three-week old, caged cripples that represent the ‘value’ offerings from some supermarkets in the UK. The nearest thing I have found comes from the prize-winning Swillington organic farm near Leeds. Reared humanely, killed and dressed on the farm within a few days these are like Aberdeen Angus sirloin compared with budget supermarket mince!
First debone this worthy bird (about 1.3kg) and cut it into bite size pieces. Next wash 600 gm of Malawian Kilombero rice, smell its unique perfume and note how quickly the water runs clear, unlike cheap rice it does not consist of 10% dust! A farmer in Malawi needs to sell 90 kg of rice to send a child to school for a year so this meal is a start; 2.4 days schooling I make it! Put the rice into a large pan with a tight-fitting lid and, add water until it covers the rice to about ½ inch deep. Add a few drops of oil and a little salt and put it on a high heat to boil vigorously and then turn the heat right down to very low, and leave it at least 20 mins for brown rice, or around 10 minutes for white.
Now for the oil. Zaytoun Fairtrade Organic Palestinian olive oil available from the Fair Traders Co-operative isn’t cheap. The organically cultivated olives, from trees up to one thousand years old, tended lovingly by marginalised farmers yield a delicious green peppery oil. It is solely extracted by mechanical means and helps the farmers and their families survive in the face of conflict. Heat 1.5 tablespoons of the oil on medium-high in a heavy frying pan with a tight-fitting lid and brown the chicken quickly, then remove from the pan.
Reduce the heat to medium low and add 1 chopped onion, 2 large cloves of crushed garlic, and 1 large diced potato. My onion came from Mark Dickinson of the Holme Valley Gardening Network who cultivated it on the new allotments created by them last year behind the Wooldale Co-op. This community project also provides introductory ‘therapeutic gardening’ courses for people dealing with a range of difficulties. The organic garlic was grown in the walled garden at Swillington which is a community supported agriculture scheme. People become members and pay up front through weekly, monthly or annual payments. This gives the growers a guaranteed income and the customers a fair price and the knowledge of exactly where their food comes from. And now for my own ‘showing off’ and state that the potato used for the cookery demonstration was grown by myself in my Wooldale veggie patch despite the regular onslaughts by birds, insects, and the weather!
After 2-3 minutes its time for the spices-1 teaspoon each of chilli powder(less if you do not like it hot), black pepper corns , ground cumin , ground coriander and sea salt. All these are organic, carbon offset, and come from the wonderful Steenbergs near Ripon. The Fair Traders Co-operative stock the black pepper corns and can order the other lines in for customers if they wish. They are cultivated in India and Sri Lanka avoiding the use of child labour (common in conventional spice cultivation) and the harmful chemicals that can poison the pickers and harm wildlife. The Portuguese sea salt is organic certified and free from anti-caking chemicals. It is raked by hand from coastal sea pans minimising energy use and retaining important trace elements.
Back to the recipe, return the chicken to the pan and add 200 ml of water. Put the lid on the pan and simmer, stirring occasionally , for 10-15 minutes.
Next add 150 gm of Liberation Fairtrade peanut butter from The Fair Traders Co-operative . This contains less sugar and salt than most products and sustainably sourced palm oil so you won’t be contributing to deforestation in Indonesia. 42% of Liberation is owned collectively by the farmers who grow their nuts. The groundnuts come from the Mchinji region in Malawi . The farmers are guaranteed a fair price and the Fairtrade premium is allowing them to invest in social projects. One such project is a shelter for families at the local hospital. We can complain about the NHS but in Malawi families have to feed their loved ones in hospital usually sleeping on the road outside, often in the pouring rain.
I get really excited about peanuts. Peanuts and peanut butter are natural whole foods with a high fat content (about 50%) but no cholesterol. Peanuts are rich in essential fatty acids, high in protein (25%) which is as much as canned corn beef. They contain 10% carbohydrates and provide around 290 kcal per 50g. Peanuts have twice the amount of dietary fibre per 100g as brown bread. About 70% of the fatty acids in peanuts are unsaturated, with about 22% as monounsaturated fats. What this all means is that there is a huge amount of benefit from eating peanuts , though too many would not be good for a calorie controlled diet. Peanuts are rich in the minerals potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, manganese and iodine . They also contain iron and zinc. Peanuts are as high in niacin which is vitamin B3 and are also rich in coenzyme Q10, a potent antioxidant.
It gets better; a recent study showed that peanuts had the high amount of total polyphenolic compounds known to reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases and cancers. And just for good measure, peanuts do not form decay-causing acids in the mouth when eaten, unlike sweet snacks.
To the Feel Good Chicken recipe, we also add a 400gm can of organic chickpeas from Suma , the UK’s largest workers co-operative in Elland. This company has done a huge amount to pioneer affordable organic, vegetarian, and fairtrade food since starting in Leeds in 1975. They and their staff also support St Georges Crypt who help the homeless in Leeds, Children in need, Amnesty International , and other charities.
Now replace the lid, add a little more water if required and simmer for another 10 mins or until the chicken is cooked through and the potatoes are tender.