Tag Archives: african recipes

Pan Fried Basa with Fiery Tomato Sauce and Grilled Asparagus

I love to experiment with cuisines, drawing inspiration from different styles of cooking, recipes, cuisines etc… and finally bringing it together as my own. This is one such dish.

I first came across this fiery tomato sauce in a South African cookbook. Known as Babette’s fiery sauce, it was listed as one of the basic sauces used in the cuisine. I just knew that I had to try it out as the flavours were incredible. It is a basic tomato sauce, easy to prepare and can even be made in bulk and stored. And being a basic sauce, it can be combined with different ingredients creating whole new dishes each time.


I decided to go the seafood route with this sauce when I found some fresh basa fillets at the local farmer’s market. And when you have fresh produce, there is not much that you need to do; just a dash of seasoning is enough to draw out the flavour. I used salt, pepper and cumin to season the fish with a generous squeeze of lemon juice.

The grilled asparagus was a last minute addition, again a find at the local farmer’s market. You can use any kind of grilled vegetable that you want based on what’s in season.


Pan fried Basa with fiery tomato sauce and grilled asparagus – a perfect spring recipe; succulent pieces of basa spiced with cumin and pan fried, served on a bed of hot herby, garlicky tomato sauce and some grilled asparagus on the side for an extra bit of crunch and flavour.



For the fish:

1. 2 basa fillets, cut into 6 portions, wash and pat dry (use any other white fish if you cannot get basa)
2. Salt, to season
3. Freshly milled black pepper, to season
4. ½ tsp roasted cumin powder
5. Vegetable/olive oil – to pan fry the fish

Babette’s fiery sauce:

6. 3 ripe red tomatoes, diced
7. 2 cloves garlic
8. 2 sprigs parsley
9. 1 scotch bonnet chili
10. 6 tbsp sunflower oil
11. Salt, to season
12. Freshly milled black pepper, to season
13. Lemon juice
14. A pinch of sugar

For the asparagus:

15. Asparagus stalks, trimmed and cleaned
16. Salt, to season
17. Freshly milled black pepper, to season


1. Marinate the fish pieces with salt, pepper, cumin and lemon juice; keep aside for 30 minutes.
2. To prepare the sauce, blend tomatoes, garlic, parsley, chilli and oil in a blender till smooth. Add water if too thick.
3. Heat a pan and add the sauce; reduce on low heat till a thicker consistency is obtained. Season with lemon juice, salt, pepper and a pinch of sugar. (Make sure to taste and adjust seasonings accordingly).
4. Pan fry the fish pieces, drain on a towel and keep aside.
5. Season the asparagus with salt and pepper; grill till done.
6. To assemble, spoon the sauce on a plate, place the fish on top and add the grilled asparagus.
7. Garnish with chopped parsley leaves.
8. Enjoy while warm!




Grilled Berbere Fish – and food conversations on Facebook groups

I have been quite an active member of several Facebook food groups. In fact, my decision to start a blog was inspired by the encouragement I received from these food groups. Though I am a member of more than a dozen groups, there are only a few that inspire me or are really close to my heart. A quick shout out to my foodie friends out there…..

Kannur food guide (KFG) – ‘A home away from home’, that’s what KFG means to me. I was a total stranger to the group when I joined but now, it seems as if I have known most of them forever. A really warm, friendly and non-judgmental group, it is not just a place to have great fun-filled food conversations but also a place where you can forge great friendships.

Chef at Large (CAL) – I am a recent entrant to this food group. But this is my go to place for the most innovative and intellectual food conversations. There are many serious foodies in CAL and you will get to see a very high level of dishes here. The members here possess serious food talents and expertise; and I have gained immensely to broaden my culinary knowledge here. CAL is the brain child of Sid Khullar who is also the Managing editor for the food emagazine, CALDRON.

Home Chefs Guild – Another warm, friendly and interesting group where home cooking is truly celebrated. Again, I was a total stranger to this group but have made quite a few foodie friends out here. And during a casual chat with one of the group admins, Biji, we realized that we were actually neighbours back in my home town but never met then. The world is indeed a small place and the best way to bond is over food!

Today’s dish features high on my fave foods list – grilled fish. And this time, I used the famous Egyptian marinade, Berbere paste to spice up my fish. Fiery, spicy and pungent, the Berbere paste can be used to flavour both meats and seafood. It has quite strong flavours and a little goes a long way; if you want it less spicy, reduce the quantity of paprika.




Berbere paste – Adapted from Tortoises and Tumbleweeds (Journey through an African Kitchen) by Lannice Snyman


Berbere paste:

  1. 2 tsp Cumin seeds
  2. 6 cloves
  3. 1 tsp cardamom seeds
  4. 1 tsp Coriander seeds
  5. 1 tsp red chilli powder
  6. 4 garlic cloves
  7. 2 tbsp hot paprika
  8. ¼ tsp turmeric powder
  9. ½ inch cinnamon bark
  10. ½ tsp black pepper powder
  11. ½ tsp fenugreek seeds

For the fish:

12. 1 whole fish (I used trout but any type can be used)
13. Red tomato – 1, sliced
14. Lemon – 1, sliced
15. Salt – to season
16. Vegetable oil – for grilling the fish

For the salad:

17. Red onion – 1, finely sliced
18. Black olives – sliced
19. Lebanese cucumber – 1, sliced
20. Tomato – 1, sliced
21. Vinegar – 1 tbsp
22. Salt – to season



To prepare the berbere:

  1. Dry roast the whole spices till aromatic, cool and grind to a fine powder. Add the remaining powdered spices along with garlic and grind to a paste.

To prepare the fish:

  1. Clean the fish well, wash and pat dry with a kitchen towel. Score on both sides and season with salt. Rub the marinade onto the fish and coat well. Line slices of tomato and lemon inside and over the top of the fish. Cover with foil and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or even longer as time permits.
  2. For the salad, mix all the veggies and just before serving, season with salt and vinegar.
  3. Heat the grill to high and drizzle vegetable oil. Place the fish with the lemon and tomato slices on top and grill for 10 minutes. Remove the lemon and tomato slices and carefully turn over the fish and grill on the other side till done.
  4. Serve hot with the grilled lemon, tomatoes and salad.




Dr. Moffat’s Beef Madras

My desire to experience and prepare global cuisines stems largely from the travel bug inside me. Both I and my husband are avid travelers though we really haven’t seen/travelled as much as we like. But we are always planning about the next trip; both of us love visiting places and experiencing the culture, traditions, history and culinary delights of the region.

Right now, having just migrated to a new country, we have put our travel dreams on hold for a while. And this is why I am constantly looking for international cookbooks in the library – books which will not only give me a glimpse into the food but also the history and culture of a particular region or country.

During my last trip to the library, I came across a cookbook focusing on Botswana and sub-Saharan African food culture. The book ‘Mma Ramotswe’s Cookbook’ by Stuart Brown weaves the different foods from the region as a narrative through the eyes of Mma Ramotswe, a colourful lady detective who believes in being ‘traditionally built’. Now I scoured through the book wanting to re-create a dish from the region but to my surprise, this is the dish that caught my attention the most – A Madras beef dish in an African cookbook. It’s a small world indeed!!

There is no way I was not going to make this dish at home…and so here it is. This beef dish is spicy, tangy and sweet – the typical Madrasi flavours! And this is the first beef dish I have done in my life which uses tamarind.

Dr. Moffat’s Beef Madras -


1. Diced beef – 600 gms
2. Fresh coconut – 1 cup, grated
3. Ginger – 1 tbsp, grated
4. Onion – 2 large, sliced finely
5. Tamarind concentrate – 1-2 tbsp (depending on the strength of the concentrate)
6. Cumin powder – 1 tsp
7. Coriander powder – 2 tsp
8. Smoked paprika (if not, use kashmiri chilli powder) – 2 tsp
9. Tomatoes – 2 ripe, diced
10. Mustard seeds – 1 tsp
11. Vegetable oil – 3 tbsp
12. Garlic – 3 cloves, crushed
13. Turmeric powder – ½ tsp
14. Red chilli powder – 1 tsp
15. Curry leaves – a big handful


1. Blend coconut, tomatoes, ginger, mustard seeds and tamarind into a paste.
2. Heat oil in a large heavy bottomed vessel and sauté the onions and garlic till light brown.
3. Add the spices and cook till the rawness goes and oil clears.
4. Add curry leaves, beef, coconut mixture and enough water to cook the beef.
5. Close the lid and cook for 1 to 1 ½ hours till the beef becomes tender and juicy. Stir occasionally and check for water content. The final dish must have a thick gravy consistency.

Note – You can prepare this dish in a pressure cooker also. Carry out steps 1-4 in a PC, close the lid and cook for 4-5 whistles or more till the beef is tender. Add only 1 cup water if cooking in a PC.

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