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And We’re Back…

It has been a while, but cooking the globe is officially back with a bang! We are returning to the blog with a unique dish from a unique country Djibouti. Today we will be cooking with camel meat! That’s right, that wasn’t a typo. For those of you who are unable to get camel meat or are to squeamish to handle something different, you can always replace the camel with beef, pork or chicken.

About Djibouti:

The first question on everyone’s mind is probably…how do I pronounce Djibouti? Well have no fear, because cooking the globe is here to help. Just picture it as (Ja – boo – tee) and you will be just fine.

Now that we can pronounce Djibouti, let’s learn a little more about this tiny African nation. It is located on the Horn of Africa (which is on the Eastern side about midway down the coast next to the Arabian Peninsula). Djibouti has a total area of just 23,200 km (or 8,958 sq mi) which makes it the 150th largest country (out of 250 total).  Djibouti was colonized by France in the early 19th century and was known as French Somaliland and then for 10 years from 1967-1977 as French Territory of the Afars and the Issas. Djibouti voted for independence in 1977, when it became known officially as the Republic of Djibouti, named after it’s capital, Djibouti.

Here are some facts about Djibouti:

  • The two official languages are French and Arabic.
  • Most of the food is imported besides a few fruit and vegetables because of the lack of rainfall.
  • Nearly all of the population is Muslim.
  • Djibouti has the only US military base in Sub-Saharan Africa.
  • nearly 50% of the population are unemployed.
  • Djibouti is considered the most likely located of the land the Egyptians referred to as “Punt” meaning God’s Land.
  • Last but not least, the Horn of Africa has the world’s largest population of Camels.

The Recipe:

SamboussaToday we are going to be cooking a traditional street snack in Djibouti known as a Samboussa or a Samboussa. We are going to be using a special sauce called Berbere Sauce which will require a food processor or coffee grinder. Finally, you will need to go to your local butcher to see if you can get your hands on some camel meat. If you live in Sydney, I know for sure that the Banana Joe’s in Marrickville has a butcher which supplies Camel meat (this is what we used). Enjoy!

The Ingredients:

For the filling:

  • 500g camel meat (ground meat or rissoles are perfect)
  • 1 white onion (chopped)
  • 2 teaspoons coriander powder
  • 2 tablespoons coriander or parsley
  • 1 Leek
  • 2 teaspoon cumin powder
  • 2 teaspoon cardamom powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 green chili
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • vegetable oil (for frying)

For the Samboussa pastry wrappers:

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 1 cup luke-warm water
  • salt

For the flour paste:

  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup water

For the Berbere sauce:

  • 4 tablespoons Berbere spice mix (if you can’t find this…you can make it using this recipe)
  • 50g dried onion flakes
  • 100ml peanut oil
  • 100m dry red wine
  • 1 teaspoon paprika (sweet)
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Method:

To get the timing of this dish just right…you can go ahead and chop all of your vegetables for the filling. Once they are all chopped up set them aside.

The first step is to get the pastry dough started by mixing the flour, oil and salt. Using a fork, mix in the water slowly and then switch to your hands, kneading the dough for 5-10 minutes until it is smooth.

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Form the dough into a ball and coat it with oil. Place it in the mixing bowl and cover with a kitchen towel to rest for about 15 minutes.

Cook the meat first with a little oil until it starts to brown and then add the onion, leek & green chilli and continue to fry until all are soft and the meat is brown.

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Add in the coriander, cumin, cardamom, salt, pepper, garlic and the freshly chopped coriander or parsley and cook for a few minutes stirring everything through.

Once everything is cooked, cover and set aside to cool to room temperature.

While the filling is cooling, return to your pastry which has now rested for about 15 minutes. Knead the dough once more for about 1-2 minutes and then divide the dough into 8 pieces.

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Heat up a dry frying pan to medium heat.

Roll the pieces into 8 balls using your hands. Now, using a roller, roll out two of the dough balls at a time into flat circles about 5 (about 15 cm) inches in diameter.

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Brush the top of of one circle with oil and place the other one on top of that oiled on (like a sandwich).

Now roll this out to about 10-11 inches in diameter (about 27 cm). Cut this into 4 pieces and then place those on the frying pan to dry it out. (don’t let it stay too long or the pastry will burn).

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Repeat this process while the first one is drying on the pan. Remove the 4 pieces from the pan and set aside to cool. once the pastry has cooled, peal the top one from the bottom one and then place all of them on a plate to cool and dry separating each 4 pieces by a paper towel to prevent them from sticking together.

Once all of the pastry (4 different rolled out circles of 2 dough balls each) has been dried…it’s time to fill the pastry with the meat which has now cooled to room temperature.

Mix up the water and flour for the flour paste in a small bowl.

Pick up on of the samboussa pastry wrappers with your hand and then using the paste you made, form the wrapper into a cone.

While you are doing this, you should be heating up a frying pan or wok with oil for frying the samboussas. I prefer vegetable oil for this because it cooks them nicely. I recommend not heating the oil too much or it will burn the pastry.

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Fill the cone with about 1 – 1 1/2 tablespoons of the filling and then, using the flour paste, seal the cone by folding the pastry over the top.

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The last step is to make the Berbere sauce. Place the onion flakes in a food processor and spin them until they are crushed into a fine grain. add the rest of the ingredients including the wine and the oil and run them through the processor until the mix turns into a paste. (you may want to add more oil or wine if you would like the sauce to be thinner).

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Serve the samboussas on a platter with the Berbere sauce and enjoy!

More Information:

The motivation to try camel meat was partly due to this documentary about the wild camels that roam Australia’s interior, and what we can do to see that these animals are put to better use than just culling and leaving them to rot in the desert.

Credits:

The majority of this recipe was taken from a similar recipe at this website, and then adapted using methods and ingredients i found out about during my research of Djibouti.

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