I-Can-Easily-Believe-They-Aren’t-Tanzanian Dumplings

Today I bring you a recipe, created by me on Tuesday. Amounts are, for the most part, eyeballed, and thus may be imprecise. Think of it as assisting you to truly recreate the experience of cooking on a kerosene stove in Tanzania.


Dumpling Dough:
2 1/2 cups of flour
1 or 2 spoonfuls of oil
pinch or two of salt

Dumpling filling:
1/2 cup rice
6 shakes of curry powder
pinch of salt
one very small red onion
one small tomato
2 shakes of red pepper flakes
1 cup water
teaspoon of oil

2 capfuls of soy sauce
1 capful of white vinegar
2 squirts of siracha
1 tablespoonful of cane sugar
teaspoonful of oil

(Keep the oil container around, you’ll need a tiny bit more for prepping and cooking.)

Flat surface
rolling pin

1) Dice onion and tomato. Add them to pot.
2) Add rice, curry powder, red pepper flakes, salt, oil, and water to the pot.
3) Cover and cook on medium high heat until rice is done. Look/test periodically if you don’t know how long your wood fire/kerosene stove/real stove/microwave/whatever takes to cook rice.
4) Meanwhile, while rice is cooking, make the dough.
Put most of the flour and salt in a bowl. Add the oil. Add water, working it into the flour as you go, until the mixture is fairly elastic.
5) Divide the dough and roll it into small balls.
They should be about the size of ping-pong balls. I was able to make 7.
6) Roll the balls in flour, until they are coated all over.
7) Roll out the balls to 1/8 of an inch thick.
Drape your finished disks over the side of the bowl as you go.
8) Now make the sauce by mixing the soy sauce, white vinegar, siracha, cane sugar, and oil with a spoon. Dilute with water to taste- I did about one part sauce to one part water.
9) When your rice is done, take it off the heat (turn off the stove) and lay out a dough circle on your flat surface.
10) Spoon a tiny amount of oil onto the face-up side and spread it around evenly.
11) Add a heaping spoonful of the rice to the center of the dough circle.
12) Fold the dough circle in half and tuck in any rice that spills over the edges.
13) Crimp the edges shut by pinching them between your fingers.
14) Repeat steps 10 through 13 with each dough circle.
15) Turn the stove back on to high, and place a frying pan on the fire. Add a small amount of oil.
16) Add as many dumplings as the pan will fit. Fry on one side until brown, then flip each dumpling over.
17) When all the dumplings are done, serve with sauce on the side for dipping.

These are surprisingly delicious (especially with the sauce!) and showcase the many imported flavors of Tanzanian cuisine: Curry from India (there are a lot of Indians here, running import shops and speaking Swahili as their native language), dumplings with wheat flour (more German than anything else- use potatoes instead of rice and you’ve got peirogies, and Tanzania was colonized by the Germans), and a roughly Chinese sauce (the Chinese are the new Indians- chances are if there’s a paved road being built here, it’s by a Chinese company.) Being by turns heavy, mushy, and fried, it is nominally British, just like Tanzania was nominally a British colony.

It also represents a history of my culinary achievements, as it makes use of cooking techniques I have long known, recently rediscovered, and also learned here. My dad taught me how to make rice, I miraculously remembered how to make that dipping sauce by recalling the recipe off the back of some Trader Joe’s dumplings, and I learned here that the secret to frying multilayered dough is to coat the dough ball in flour before you roll out the chapati.

Perhaps someday I will post non-frivolous things in this blog again? One can only hope.


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