Location: North central Africa
Population: 13.7 million
Geography: A southern half of savannah grassland, and a northern half of Saharan desert
Language: Arabic, French
Signature flavours: Millet, okra, peanut, fish, beef
The main hazard of gathering recipes for Chad was thinking I had come across a great dish, only to learn that “Chad Barbecued Veggies” actually meant “A Guy Named Chad Has a Recipe for Barbecued Veggies.” Finally, I happened across a great website that offered a number of recipes, and a book on Chad that included another few.
Karkanji: A refreshing beverage made with hibiscus flowers, ginger, sugar, and water.
Prep and cooking time: 75 min (including 60 min chilling time)
Broiled Fish: Fried whitefish with garlic, tomato, and chilli powder.
Prep and cooking time: 60 min
Millet Snacks: A staple grain in Chad, millet is the primary ingredient in these fried dough snacks.
Prep and cooking time: 30 min
Difficulty: N/A (see below)
Maharagwe: A stew of beans, coconut milk, tomato, and spices.
Prep and cooking time: 25 min
The Shopping List
Hibiscus flowers were the only item on my ingredient list that required any searching (the millet flour, which I thought might be hard to find, turned up at Bulk Barn). I found hibiscus flowers in Toronto’s Chinatown, but the bag was huge, and I just didn’t need so many. I found them in a more reasonable quantity in Greektown on the Danforth, at Ottway Herbs and Vitamins.
I made the karkanji ahead of time to ensure it was chilled enough to cool our mouths at dinner. It is basically just a sweetened hibiscus and ginger tea. The flavour was really nice — sweet and floral but with a ginger-y spice.
Once that was done, I got started on the fish. The instructions had me keep it on a low temperature for a long time after frying, which I worried might dry it out, but it was juicy, garlicky and flaky. I loved the tomato on top and the bit of spice added by the chilli powder. The maharagwe was delicous. Hearty and coconut-y, with a hint of sweetness and spice.
The millet snacks were a big fail. I tried to halve the recipe, and in so doing, I guess I ruined the finicky creature that is dough, because the strips were crumbly, dry, and burned quickly on the pan. I didn’t even bother putting them on the table, but I did have to open a window to air out the smoke.
“Another recipe for our fails night,” said Eric, referring to an idea we had to retry all those dishes that haven’t turned out well during this project. The ruined millet snacks didn’t keep us from really enjoying our Chadian meal and adding a couple of recipes to our cookbook for future dinners.
Disclaimer: I’m not a professional chef. I’m just a passionate cook with a curiosity for flavours I’ve never tried. For great recipes from gifted local cooks, follow the links above.