Mozambique Cuisine…Africa on fire

This weekend I was fortunate enough to be one of the presenters on stage at the Gold Coast Food and Wine Expo.  Who would have thought that a little blond haired Zimbabwean, growing up in the most remote corners of Africa, would ever be let loose on stage in Australia.  Isn’t it heavenly?  I’m ever so proud of my heritage, and spread my love of my home country wherever I go and to whomever will lend me their ears. And although I now call Australia my home, I think I will always be proudly African and continue to help those wonderful people in any way I can.  And the one way I can is through tourism and food.  Anyone who knows me will attest to my passion for food and for travel.  Not only am I always planning the next meal, but while I’m doing that I’m also always looking for the next trip and adventure.

Beautifully fiery Peri Peri sauce

I had never set foot on an airplane or even outside of the Southern Africa until I embarked on my first ever trip as a bold and excited 20 year old newly-qualified chef.  I was lucky enough to be granted  two year work visa for the UK and off I went.  I will never forget the farewell with my parents at the airport, of walking through those big gates and onto my first plane for a very fun adventure.  I had the best time in the UK working and travelling as a chef and sometimes silver service waitress (the latter being the better paid job), I met amazing people and ate amazing food and I have always loved to travel ever since then.  I have picked up amazing friends along the way, I still contact them weekly through social media and will always call them friends.  Isn’t life amazing?

So when I think back on all the trips I have taken and all the places I have been, Mozambique is always a real stand out for me.  I was lucky to have two weeks there on the beautiful Bilene where the lagoon beaches are white and the sky is blue blue blue.  The waters are crystal clear and turquoise, the most beautiful smiles of the happy harmless locals greeting me with big happy grins and even bigger baskets of fresh delicious prawns and seafood!  The drive we took from Durban through Maputo was truly amazing. The roads were not always in great shape, but hitting Maputo after a full days drive and heading to one of the popular seafood restaurants overlooking the vast Indian Ocean, we greedily devoured the most sensational seafood platter and lots of local beer.

Beautiful Bilene Mozambique

 

 

We then headed to our reed huts on the beach accomodation, back then the budget was super tight, but sometimes that’s the best way to truly experience a place isn’t it!  We literally only had to fall out our beach huts to get to the ocean, with friendly boat boys of very young ages eager to take us out on the lagoon on their not-so-seaworthy boats.  The amazing music pumping out of a boom box with one or probably both speakers absolutely blown, will be one of my fondest memories ever.  I remember we even tried to buy the cassette tape from the young fellas because the music, Pedro Marina, was absolutely marvellous and we wanted to take those long lazy vibes of beautiful Mozambique home with us!

The biggest decision we ever had to make was were we having steak, chicken or prawns with our peri-peri sauce.  Peri Peri Sauce.  The local elixir. The local seasoning for practically any ingredients, whether it be born of land or sea!

So imagine my surprise, when this weekend while manning my booth at the Gold Coast Food and Wine expo, I should bump into the lovely Valentina who herself hails from Mozambique AND happened to live in Zimbabwe for 14 years.  Wow, the excitement!  Of course the first thing I asked her was for her peri peri sauce recipe.  And she was gracious enough to give it to me right there and then.

If you haven’t had a peri peri sauce it truly is amazing, you can have this fresh and uncooked over practically anything, or you can use it as a basting, marinade or cook in sauce.  Sheer genius.  Why do you think Nandos’ does so well!

Here is her recipe which I have adapted with my own, I can’t wait for you to try it.

Shameless plug of my Culinary Quickies Cook Book!

Peri-peri sauce

This should make a nice jar of sauce to use on everything for then next few weeks!

1 cup birds eye chillies ( you decide how hot you like this!)

1 medium red capsicum/red peppers seeds removed

2 medium onions, roughly chopped ( I like red but use white if you like)

6 cloves garlic

juice of two to three lemons

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon sugar

1 teaspoon crushed black pepper

1 teaspoon fresh oregano or a big pinch of the dried stuff

120 ml olive oil

1/3 cup apple cider or white vinegar

Method

 

Simply place in a food processor of Nutribullet and then blend!  You can then cook with this fresh sauce when you do your meat or fish or chicken, or use this as a fresh sauce!  Will last for a few days in the fridge, or if you cook up the entire batch for about 20 minutes until beautifully thick and fragrant you can then place in clean jars and seal and keep for weeks!

Africa on fire in your very own home.

Enjoy and happy cooking

Chef Mel