Chakula cha Mchana! Part Three: Lunchable Recipes

Basics | Coffee | Recipes
Rather than repeat what others have done, I’ll stick to recipes that are suitable for lunch time.  These would be things that are made of leftovers from the night before, and/or can be prepared and packed in 15 minutes or less.  Most people don’t want to wake up too early in the morning to difficult cooking. There is also the issue of food waste being something between a sin and a crime.

Bear in mind, these things may not be technically authentic, but they’re African style, and can be easily made in the average western kitchen.


I’ve seen some long and complicated recipes for couscous.  Those are great if you really want it the texture of sand, but most people just want tiny, hot balls of pasta.  As long as they’re not too gummy, it’s all good.  A non gummy, good enough couscous can be made in 10 minutes.  Let it steam while you’re taking a shower.

This recipe is for 2-4 servings.

You will need:
1 cup fine or medium/regular dry couscous
salt to taste
1 cup boiling water or clear soup (or maybe a little more, added 1 tablespoon at a time)
1 teaspoon ghee, butter, or olive oil

1.  Pour the couscous and salt into a flat, rectangular container.
2.  Pour the boiling water or clear soup over it carefully.
3.  Stir just enough that there aren’t any dry clumps, and then STOP.  If you have evenly wet it all, and there are still dry areas, add a bit more hot water or soup, just until all of the grains are totally submerged, but quickly.  If you take too long to do this, they will have expanded already.
4.  Cover the container with its own lid, but leave one corner open.
5.  Microwave it on high/regular heat for 30-50 seconds.
6.  Go find something to do for 10 minutes.
7.  Return, and toss a teaspoon of oil into the couscous.

Stove top:
1.  Boil 1 and 1/2 cup of salted water or soup.
2.  Pour the extra half cup into cup or bowl.
3.  Pour the couscous into the pot with the 1 cup, and stir just enough to wet all the grains.
4.  Add a little more water if it seems needed.
5.  Turn off the heat, and cover the pot.
6.  Find something else to do for 10 minutes.
7.  Return and toss in a teaspoon of oil.

Couscous is generally eaten with stewed vegetables, or a chicken and vegetable soup.  If you want it to taste really African/middle eastern, see if you can find a spice mix called “soup hawaj”.  You can put it in a shaker, and season last night’s leftover vegetables with it, and pour this over your couscous for lunch.

Quick Peanut Sauce

1 heaping tablespoon of peanut butter
1 teaspoon of corn or potato starch, mixed with a dash of salt, or enough to taste, depending how salty you like your peanut sauce
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon cumin (or more if you like a stronger taste)
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon curry powder
1 cup of hot water
1 teaspoon olive oil or ghee

1.  Mix the potato starch and salt in the bottom of a large mug.
2.  Add the rest of the dry ingredients/spices
3.  Mash in the peanut butter and oil as best as you can.
4.  Stir in the hot (near boiling) water, a little at a time.
5.  Microwave for 1 to 2 minutes…just until you see that it’s at a good boil but not overflowing.
6.  Take it out of the microwave and stir or whisk until it’s smooth.

Stove top:
1.  Heat about 1 cup of water until it is boiling.
2.  Mix the oil, starch, and salt.
3.  Pour this mixture into the water, and stir well.
4.  Add the rest of the ingredients, and stir until it is smooth.  You may need to turn the heat down a bit.

This is good with “American fufu“, which is basically mashed potato mix with a bit of a teaspoon of tapioca starch or a heaping tablespoon of biscuit or pancake mix per cup of flakes.

Mix the mashed potato flakes and tapioca starch or biscuit mix, and then add boiling water until you have a thick and pliable dough that is somewhat wet but still balling around the fork.  Then cook in a covered pot for 5 minutes, or the microwave for 1 minute, without stirring anymore.  You’ll have a nice ball that you can tear pieces from, form into a makeshift “spoon” with your fingers, and dip into sauces or stews.

Pan Cakes

Pan Cake FlatbreadThis is a flatbread more than a pancake. It’s made from flour, a tiny bit of sugar, yeast, and a little salt. This will make maybe two big ones or three or four smaller ones.

The night before, mix 1 cup of all purpose flour, a half teaspoon of yeast, a half teaspoon of salt, and a teaspoon of sugar. Once it is thoroughly mixed together, add around 1 and a half cups of water, or as much as it takes to make it a batter about the thickness of ketchup. Cover this and put it in the refrigerator or a cool place overnight.

In the morning, it will be full of bubbles and ready to use.

Heat a frying pan (cast iron is best) on medium high, and when it is very hot, pour in a teaspoon of oil, and then a ladle full of the batter. Spread it around into a circle quickly. Let it get golden brown on the bottom, then turn it over. When the other side is done, put it on a plate and do the next.

I hope these articles have been helpful. Perhaps later I will post some recipes that are good for communal lunches.

Blessings and Ashé!

About K. Sis. Nicole T.N. Lasher

Webmatron of ModernTraditional, and other cultural and quirky sites. I am one of those odd people born to curate, with a real passion for marketing. If you have some art, music, writing, or other content that needs more love, feel free to contact me. I work on a donate when and what you are able basis. To do so, hit my Paypal or Patreon. Let's survive capitalism together, and try to have some fun confusing the exploitative.

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