There’s nothing as adventurous as dining in the middle of the forest, surrounded by nature. You feel like your whole system is being detached from every toxic vibe you’ve accumulated over time.
Now you can imagine how it feels preparing a meal in such an environment, accompanied by the expertise of a skilled chef. I had an amazing time on the other side of Diani at Shimba Hills Lodge with Chef Caleb Lutato, who taught me how to prepare beef Madagascar dish.
I’ve always wondered why people give complicated names for simple dishes. Why can’t they just say its fried meat or its boiled rice? The chef tells me they give the meal some swag, or make a patron more curious about the food, as most people love to have something different when they travel or eat out.
So, I was curious to learn how different this beef is from the usual steak I eat back at home, and of course, wanted to know how to prepare it so that I impress my future better half! Its unique preparation gives it a distinct flavour, and it can be enjoyed with boiled rice, pasta, chapatti or even ugali.
As we begin preparing the meal, Chef Caleb lets me in on his culinary journey and what makes him love cooking so much. The interest was born soon after high school during a visit to his cousin’s at the Coast.
His cousin’s wife is German and a great cook, and she inspired his passion for cooking. He admits that he was breaking tradition by doing so, as in Ingoholand, men apparently don’t cook, and he was ridiculed by villagers when they learnt of his profession. However, his family supported him and he went to college to perfect his skills.
When not cooking, he loves watching football at home. I was surprised to learn that he plays football in church and goes for practice every Sunday.
He even participates in the interchurch competitions. To become a better chef, he watches YouTube and meets with other chefs, where they discuss the latest recipes, for example the beef Madagascar. Here is how to make it.
Ingredients (serves 4)
1kg topside steak cut into big cubes
300g chopped onions
1pc chopped garlic
50g fresh finely chopped ginger
A few finely chopped curry leaves
Beef demi glace
Salt and pepper
A bunch of fresh chopped dhania
100g garden pears blanched
1pc yellow and red capsicum in cubes
Fry the meat in a saucepan till it’s completely drained.
Add onions, garlic, ginger and curry leaves and allow it to cook on a low fire while stirring, till half cooked.
Add the demi glace and cover to allow cooking smoothly for 20 minutes, then season with salt and pepper.
Add the dhania, soy sauce, garden peas, and the cubed bell peppers.
Simmer for five minutes then add the coconut cream and stir.
Serve with rice, ugali or chapatti.
Cream of butternut
soup for starter
Ingredients (serves 10)
200g finely chopped onions
1pc of finely chopped garlic
50g finely chopped ginger
1pc finely chopped leeks
2kg peeled and sliced butternut
300g peeled and sliced potatoes
4ltr vegetable stock
Salt and pepper
Small bunch fresh finely chopped dhania/basil
Put oil in the cooking pot and add onions, garlic, ginger and leeks.
Let it cook on a low fire while stirring.
Add the butternut and potatoes then cover, and periodically continue to stir till halfway cooked.
Add the stock then season with salt and pepper and let it cook in low heat for ten minutes.
Allow it to cool down then blend, before reheating again for three minutes.
Add some cream, stir, serve and garnish with dhania or basil.