Time for the MENA Cooking Challenge! This month, it was Djibouti, as unheard as the Comoros Islands, which was our October assignment. Djibouti is a tiny country located in the Horn of Africa, covering an area of a little over 23,200 cubic km, sharing its borders with Eritrea, Somalia and Ethiopia, with one side facing the Red Sea. The inhabitants are primarily Muslims and Arabic and French are the major languages spoken, apart from Afroasiatic languages. Due to its strategic location, it is a buzzing commercial hub and is site for various military bases. Djibouti cuisine is highly influenced by foods of Somalia, Yemen, Afar and French cuisine. Meat and fish are a staple part of the food.
We were given three choices to make – Wat: a gravy made of meat and vegetables, Sabayaad: a layered flat bread which looks so close to our parathas and Kashata: a sugary candy. And this month, we were spared of having any secret ingredient, which was such a relief. 😀 Even though I really wanted to make to make the sabayaad, my eyes fell on the Kashata and I had to make it mainly for one reason – love for anything with coconut! I googled a few recipes to make mine.
Kashata is basically a sugary sweet, made of melted sugar and coconut, with some spices like cardamom and cinnamon. I didn’t want to make it that simple and kept checking out for variations, and discovered that you could add your choice of nuts to this dish to make it more crunchier. Peanuts seemed to be an obvious choice and hence I went for it. The end result was a sugary, melt in the mouth sweet that went amazingly well with a cup of black coffee, and that is how it is normally served, it seems. You don’t need any sugar in your coffee for sure, it is that sugary! Hehe… I didn’t caramelize the sugar much, just till it became syrupy and did my add ons. I more or less resorted to this recipe as the base. We had it as an after lunch snack over the weekend and HD packed up the rest for his staff, when I was really wondering what I would do with it, since I was so tempted to keep munching on it but at the same time, worried about the overload of sugar! 🙂 This is lovely to have in small batches, and looks like keeps good for at least a week if stored properly. What more, it is a purely vegan treat too! Off to the way I made it…
- 1½ cup sugar
- ⅓ cup coconut milk
- ½ tsp cardamom powder
- ¾ cup peanuts
- 1½ cup grated coconut
- A pinch of salt
- Roast the peanuts till a nice aroma comes and set aside.
- Grease or line an 8 inch square pan.
- Combine the sugar, coconut milk and cardamom in a large saucepan and keep it on low flame.
- Stir till the sugar gets dissolved and then allow it to boil till the mixture turns syrupy. Keep moving the pan with its handle for even mixing.
- Once you boil for around 10 minutes, you will notice the mixture turning syrupy and starting to change color.
- Add in the peanuts, coconut and salt and mix well till nicely combined. Cook for another couple of minutes.
- Switch off and pour into the prepared pan. Flatten the top using a spatula.
- Allow to cool completely before cutting into squares and serving. Makes 16 squares.
You may increase the quantity of peanuts and coconut or interchange the quantities as per your wish. Do not add too much that it becomes difficult to mix in.
If you love the flavor of cinnamon, add some powder while adding the cardamom.