Chapati with Beef Stew

Flat bread, commonly known as chapati is a flaky, unleavened bread, normally made on a griddle. It is a staple in east Africa and was influenced by the wave of Indian immigrants, who have for instance integrated into forming the Indian community of Tanzania. 

Chapati and stew makes for quick super on weekdays – different kinds of stews can be served with Chapati. There really isn’t a standard way to prepare beef stew as every cook puts in their own signature. However, I’ve outlined the basics.

Africans’ affinity towards meat is known worldwide. It is widely reflected in their cuisine. No meal is considered complete without a piece of meat, be it beef, lamb or chicken. Indian influence on East African food is also widespread. Most of their native dishes have a tinge of ‘Indian-ness’ in them. From the use of indigenous ingredients to incorporating spices in their cooking, Africans have always relished the taste of Indian flavours in their cuisine.

When it comes to flatbread and beef stew, there are different versions of it across the African continent. In their native language, it’s called Chapati Na Mchuzi Wa Nyama. Chapati is the Indian name for flatbread and is also known as roti. In Swahili, Mchuzi means sauce or gravy or stew while Nyama refers to meat. In short, Chapati Na Mchuzi Wa Nyama is a combination of the flatbread along with a meat gravy. 

The flatbread or chapati is made using all-purpose flour or wheat flour or by combining both. Once the dough is kneaded, it is rolled out into small circles and cooked on a pan, griddle or directly on the fire. It’s flaky and resembles a pancake. Chapati replaces the bread in African cuisine and is usually consumed alongside a gravy or curry. This is where the beef stew or Mchuzi Wa Nyama comes into play.

This ‘comfort food’ is an East African staple, especially in Kenya. Every region has its signature dish and the ingredients vary accordingly. In many places, they use cubed chicken instead of beef. Season the meat. Add fresh vegetables of your choice, usually tomatoes, peppers, onions and sometimes potatoes. The usage of vegetables differs from season to season. Heat the stock, add spices and slow cook the meat to get a flavourful stew. Savour the dish in classic Kenyan style.

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