The African country of Mozambique has an interesting and flavorful cuisine that has been strongly influenced by the Portuguese who colonized the country for 500 years.
Around the year 700, Arab slave merchants set up trading posts throughout Mozambique and introduced the local population to salt as a means of preserving food. The Arabs also introduced various spices and Arab pastries such as doughnuts.
In the 15th century, the country was colonized by the Portuguese who brought with them ingredients from their other colonies in America. They introduced many new seasonings that were incorporated into the local cuisine of Mozambique.
Among the ingredients that the Arabs and Portuguese brought with them were onions, bay leaves, garlic, fresh coriander, paprika, chili peppers, sweet peppers and wine. They also introduced maize, rice and potatoes which became staple foods. These ingredients were melded with traditional African ingredients to create a unique and delicious cuisine.
Today many of Mozambique’s inhabitants are very poor. The country is recovering from both wars and natural disaster and many people do not eat hearty meals every day. This is especially the case further inland in the rural communities.
A formal Mozambican dinner is a unique experience as it combines Portuguese and traditional African influences. Unlike many African countries, the dinner will be served with guests seated at the table.
The table will often be dressed with a table cloth and the meal served on plates and eaten with knives and forks. This shows the European influences of the Portuguese, as in many African cultures you eat with your hands. In more affluent homes there are usually three courses, a soup or starter, a main and a dessert.
Portuguese wine is the most common accompaniment. Although many of the country’s people practice traditional beliefs, there is a strong Catholic influence in the country and meat is often avoided on a Friday. Consequently, Christmas is often a big celebration and Mozambicans will celebrate by making a Cashew nut and Potato cake called Bolo Polana.
Mozambican food is decidedly spicy due to the chili peppers, garlic and lemons that are liberally used. Peri-peri means “spicy-spicy” and peri-peri sauce is a standard accompaniment to just about all meals. It is one of the most characteristic flavors of the cuisine.
Traditionally it is made by pounding red chilis, garlic, salt, olive oil and lemon juice together. African peri peri chillies, also known as African bird’s-eye chillies, are actually native to Mozambique.
My version of the classic peri-peri hot sauce is both authentic and remarkably flavorful. I hope you enjoy it, Citizens – it’s good on most everything!
Battle on – The Generalissimo
The Hirshon Mozambique Peri-Peri Sauce
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