4 Easy East African recipes to try for your next dinner party

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There's nothing quite like bonding with family and friends over a delicious home-cooked meal. Celebrate your African culture with these four easy, flavourful East African dishes.
Celebrate the delicious flavours of East African cuisine with these simple dishes that are perfect for sharing.



Pita breads
¾ cup cake flour or all-purpose white flour
½ tsp instant dry yeast
¼ tsp salt
Pinch of brown or white sugar
1¼ tsp oil
¼ cup water

400g beef mince
1 Tbsp garlic paste
½ Tbsp ginger paste
1 red onion, grated
¼ tsp salt
1½ Tbsp fresh breadcrumbs
1 tsp ground cumin
½ tsp ground coriander
½ cup finely chopped
Fresh coriander
1 tsp finely chopped fresh green chilli or ½ tsp red chilli powder
2 Tbsp oil

Beetroot yoghurt dip
500g creamy plain natural yoghurt or Greek yoghurt
3 Tbsp finely grated beetroot
1 tsp lemon or lime juice
¼ tsp salt

First make the pita breads. Combine the flour, yeast, salt, sugar and oil in a large mixing bowl. Add the water and knead the dough for 5 minutes or until well combined, smooth and stretchy. If needed, you can gradually add more water until the dough is stretchy.
Cover the mixing bowl with cling film or a damp tea towel and leave the dough to rise for 45 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 180°C and line a baking tray with baking paper.
Transfer the risen dough to a floured work surface. Divide the dough into 4 equal balls and flatten them with your hands. Using a rolling pin, roll the balls of dough into circles 15cm in diameter. Use your hands to gently turn the dough as you roll, sprinkling over a little flour each time you turn to prevent the dough from sticking to the rolling pin or work surface.
Arrange the dough circles on the lined baking tray, leaving about 5cm between each. Bake for 20 minutes.
To make the meatballs, place the mince in a bowl and combine with the garlic paste, ginger paste, onion, salt, breadcrumbs, cumin, ground coriander, chopped fresh coriander and fresh chilli or chilli powder. Using your hands, shape the mince into small, elongated balls.
Heat an outdoor grill to medium hot. Brush the grill grate with the oil to prevent the meat from sticking. Place the meatballs 10cm apart so that they are easier to turn while grilling. Grill for 4 minutes on each side.
To make the beetroot yoghurt dip, mix all the ingredients in a small bowl.
To serve, cut the baked pitas in half lengthwise to make pockets. Stuff the pita pockets with meatballs and drizzle over the dip or serve it on the side.

Notes: You can also pan-fry the meatballs. Heat oil in a deep frying pan over medium to high heat and gently add the meatballs, spacing them evenly to make it easier to turn them during cooking. Fry for approximately 3 minutes on each side.


SERVES 2 – 4

3 large mangoes, chopped
2 tomatoes, chopped, or 200g cherry tomatoes, quartered
1 red or white onion, chopped
3 Tbsp chopped fresh coriander
½ Tbsp grated fresh ginger (grate with the skin on)

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp lemon or lime juice
¼ tsp chopped fresh red chilli (optional)
¼ tsp salt

Place the mangoes, tomatoes, onion, coriander and ginger in a mixing bowl. Use a whisk to combine the dressing ingredients well, then pour over the salad. Toss well and transfer to a serving dish.



2 deboned chicken breasts, cut into 1cm cubes
2 tsp garlic paste
1 tsp ginger paste
¾ tsp salt
4 cups oil
½ cup grated carrot
½ cup grated cabbage
1 Tbsp soy sauce
¼ tsp ground black pepper
¼ cup chopped spring onion leaves
1 cup cake flour or all-purpose white flour
¼ cup water at room temperature

Place the chicken, garlic paste, ginger paste and ¼ tsp of the salt in a bowl and mix well.
In a wok or deep frying pan, heat half the oil over medium to high heat and cook the marinated chicken for 1 – 2 minutes, tossing frequently to prevent the chicken from sticking to the bottom of the wok or pan.
Add the carrot, cabbage, soy sauce, black pepper and ¼ tsp of the salt. Toss for 30 seconds and then remove from the heat.
Add the spring onion leaves and mix well. Transfer to a bowl and allow to cool to room temperature.
In a separate clean bowl, mix the flour with the remaining ¼ tsp salt. Make a dough by adding the water at intervals until the dough is soft and easy to roll.
Dust your work surface with some flour and, using a rolling pin, roll the dough into a 20 x 20cm square. Cut this into 4 smaller 10cm squares.
Line a spoonful of the chicken filling on the bottom third of each square. Fold in the sides and brush all the edges with a paste made from 2 tsp flour and 1 tsp water. Roll up the spring roll, making sure all the sides are well sealed.
Heat the remaining oil in a deep frying pan over medium to high heat and deep-fry the spring rolls until they are golden brown.
Use a sharp knife to cut the spring rolls diagonally in half before serving with a side of sweet chilli sauce.

Notes: To save time, you can use readymade store-bought spring-roll wrappers. Smaller versions of the spring rolls make a great party snack. Go vegetarian by simply omitting the chicken.


SERVES 2 – 4 (makes 8 – 10)

1 cup sifted cake flour or all-purpose white flour
¼ cup brown sugar
½ tsp ground cardamom
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
½ cup lukewarm full-cream milk
1 tsp baking powder
2 cups oil

In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, cardamom and cinnamon. Gradually add the lukewarm milk, stirring at the same time, to form a thick batter. Set the batter aside for 15 minutes. Add the baking powder and stir well. Heat the oil in a deep frying pan over medium to high heat. Gently drop spoonfuls of batter into the oil and fry until golden brown. Drain on paper towel.
Recipes extracted from The East African Cookbook by Shereen Jog, published by Penguin Random House South Africa .

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