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Hawa Hassan is a chef and the founder of Basbaas, a line of Somali chutneys and hot sauces. But new to Hawa’s portfolio is her debut cookbook, “In Bibi’s Kitchen,” a book that takes readers into the homes of bibis (grandmothers) from eight African countries bordering the Indian Ocean. 

Related Reading: What Is the Difference Between Bananas and Plantains?

Buoyed by stories spun by these grandmothers and recipes pulled from their homes, “In Bibi’s Kitchen” acts as a haven for inspiring tales. Hawa and her team have traveled to Eritrea, Somalia, Kenya, Tanzania, and more, sharing recipes like spiced fried fish, steak and piri piri sandwiches, and chicken thighs with garlic, ginger, and coconut oil. The book is divided into sections by country, each chapter beginning with an interview with the bibis featured from that country. Just as you’ll get to know these eight countries, you’ll also cozy up next to these women, learning who taught them to cook, their favorite food traditions, and what, for them, defines community.

In Bibi's Kitchen: The Recipes and Stories of Grandmothers from the Eight African Countries that Touch the Indian Ocean, $25.49 on Amazon

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Ahead you’ll find a recipe for ndizi Kaanga, Tanzanian fried plantains, from bibi Ma Vicky. As Ma Vicky explains, plantains are an integral part of Tanzanian cooking, often prepared with plantains that are between underripe and almost-black. Just fry the rounds in a little bit of butter or ghee, polished off with a drizzle of lemon juice and dusting of salt and nutmeg. Ma Vicky recommends serving them as a snack or alongside rice pilaf, vegetables, and grilled meat or fish. If you’re looking for something a little sweeter, toss a bit of brown sugar into the pan as they cook, pour in some rum, and crown with a scoop of vanilla ice cream—the Tanzanian riff on bananas Foster.   

Ndizi Kaanga (Fried Plantains) Recipe 

As Ma Vicky taught us, plantains are a huge part of Tanzanian cooking, and there are tons of varietals and different ways of preparing each. These simple fried plantains are best made with bright yellow plantains that are somewhere in between the firm, starchy-green under-ripe plantains and the super-soft, super-sweet, almost-black overripe plantains. Fried in a little butter (or ghee) and finished with a splash of fresh lemon juice and a sprinkle of both salt and nutmeg, these plantains ride the line between sweet and savory. Serve on their own for a snack or alongside Zanzibar Pilau, cooked vegetables, and grilled meat or fish for a complete meal. You could even sprinkle them with a bit of brown sugar as they cook, finish them with a splash of rum, and serve with vanilla ice cream for a Tanzanian version of bananas foster.

Ndizi Kaanga

Serves: 4
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter (or ghee)
  • 2 large yellow plantains, peeled and cut into
  • 1-inch-thick pieces on the diagonal
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
  1. Place the butter in a large nonstick skillet set over medium- high heat. Once the butter has melted, add the plantain pieces and cook until dark brown on the undersides, about 2 minutes. Carefully turn each plantain and cook just until the second sides are lightly browned, about another minute.
  2. Transfer the plantains, cut sides up, to a serving platter and drizzle with the lemon juice and sprinkle with the salt and nutmeg. Serve immediately. Leftovers can be stored in a container in the refrigerator for up to a few days and warmed in a skillet before serving.

Header image courtesy of "In Bibi's Kitchen."

Amy Schulman is an associate editor at Chowhound. She is decidedly pro-chocolate.
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