african tea – do it properly

Please forward this to as many chefs, hotel owners and restauranteurs as possible – including the tonyinira mu kange women (and the latter only so that they enrich the below further with their vast experience and knowledge of this process).

African Tea is NOT “Tea served in a teapot with the milk already mixed.”

This misunderstanding arose out of the definition of English Tea being Tea served on a tray with two pots containing hot water and cold milk (or cream) separately, a sugar bowl, a dainty cup capable of holding about ten sips, a saucer to catch the drips off your chin, and two teaspoons.

This was opposed to the ordinary ‘African’ tea which was poured steaming hot by the half-litre out of a kettle on a sigiri into a gamma or tumpeco, and then displaced by about three tablespoons of sugar. The image in your mind right now is of a large, lesu-wrapped woman sitting on a three-legged spiral wooden stool in a market place talking loudly with other similarly placed women. That tea was fantastic!

The English Tea is complicated – even going by the number of items and the necessity of a tray to convey them from a kitchen to a table at which you are supposed to sit properly to sip your tea. The African Tea was simple, straightforward and scalding hot; and in spite of how hot it was you kept sipping and slurping at it till your lips became red hot – probably how Sambo came into being.

Hot, scalding tea RULES!
Hot, scalding tea RULES!

Enter irony – the complicated English Tea is simple to make: Boil Water. Take Milk out of fridge. Take Tea Bags out of box. The rest of the instructions are to do with collecting the paraphernalia, laying the table and so on and so forth. African Tea, on the other hand, needs to be done properly.

This is the part where chefs, hotel-owners and restauranteurs need to pay full attention:

You will need ntangawuzi (ginger), budalasini (don’t know its English equivalent), chai masala (mixed tea spices) fresh milk, water and sugar.

1. Pour milk into a metallic cooking receptacle (saucepan or kettle). Ensure it is less than half-full, as you will need to add an equal amount of water to it in two steps.

2. Bring it to the boil.

3. Add the water (same amount as the milk) as soon as the milk starts to boil.

4. As the milk and water mix comes up to a fresh boil, crush the ntangawuzi into a stringy paste and add it into the mix.

5. As soon as it starts to boil again, sprinkle tea leaves lightly over the froth. Watch carefully as it starts to boil and note how the boiling action of the tea begins to draw the tea leaves under.

6. Just before the boiling tea bubbles over, lift the receptacle off the cooker/stove/sigiri (I didn’t list this above because unless you are a Kampala City Council building inspector, you can’t require this level of instruction).

7. After two minutes off the cooker/stove/sigiri, place the receptacle back onto the cooker/stove/sigiri and let it boil again. This time it will not bubble over, and you can leave it brewing for as long as it does not evaporate entirely.

8. Drink heartily.

eat matooke, not biscuits

The Credit crunch is coming to a pocket near you if you don’t pay attention right now.

The story in developed countries is that they have a credit culture that is…sorry, was so attractive that they owed everything they owned. The large Plasma TVs and the large walls on which they are pegged at that convenient angle were all bought mostly using credit – and even if they had paid cash, that cash had been earned from a salary that was being paid using credit, because companies take loans to run their businesses. And so on and so forth.

They’ve been eating biscuits, and now those biscuits have turned into crumbs. After being crunched by people who own banks and credit card companies.

The story here, though, is that we spend hard cash. We are more liquid than plastic, which is evidenced by the booming market in Presidential Jets, housing estates, and commercial banks (we now have twenty-three commercial banks for the thirty million people living here).

We don’t buy TVs, car radios and mobile phones on credit…well, not all of us. The salary loans that have become so popular in the last five years or so (“…unsecured, just sign here and there and there and tell your HR manager to sign here…”) have been used mostly to buy up plots in Bweyogerere and shares in Stanbic. I hope.

These monies have not been squandered on the good old usual causes such as marrying extra women and buying snazzier cars. I hope.

And therefore, our value has been going up, up and up, credit crunch be damned. But this does not mean that we should chill and wait for the land value to appreciate after Sudhir builds the first skyscraper in Namawojjolo.

Come what may, that crunch will be heard very, very soon, so start thinking like Obama and find ways of keeping the economy – YOUR economy – running.

Stop buying Oreos and Weetabix, and replace them with Matooke crisps and Bushera. Decrease on the purchases of silk-smooth imported toilet paper and go with some brand with a ‘Made in Uganda’ wrapping – let’s face it, Rosy was never the smoothest toilet paper ever but how many times did you ever have to put a plaster down there because you had used the exercise book from two years ago? Never.

Walk a little bit. Or at least share cars. If you have a job and a car then chances are high that all your drinking buddies also have jobs and cars – increasing automatically the likelihood that you all live in roundabout the same area of town and enjoy the same marital circumstances as a group. This means that you can start what the Americans call ‘Car Pooling‘ and save a big chunk of money as a group while also decreasing the lengths of the traffic jams in the city and the eventual national cost of cardio-related treatment required after years of anxiety and stress of driving through Kampala traffic alongside helmet-less numbskulls on boda-bodas and in taxis.

I’ll list other money-savers here but won’t delve into much detail at this point:

1. Grow a beard and a semi-Afro – if everyone does it then we will be starting a new trend.

2. Honey, your hair looks fine the way it is. (Men, practice saying this so it is believable enough to keep her out of the salon for at least three weekends a month).

3.  If 2. above works well, try and put her to work on Saturday’s as well so you earn some overtime for the domestic account.

4. Repair and wash all the kids’ toys. In fact, paint some of them a different colour and pretend they are new.

5. Mawolu. The origin of katogo. Perfect for lunch tomorrow.

6. Go on a diet.

7. Buy a needle and thread either to fix old clothes, or to alter them so they look different (the latter especially fitting for stuff like dresses women wear to weddings!)

8. Switch busuutis, emyenda and mishanana. Apparently, women are capable of telling which traditional outfits they wore to which functions and retain photographic visuals of each other going back at least four years. Without considering how irrational this skill is compared to their inability to dress up and leave a house on time, the simple solution to this would be to have them swapping these traditional outfits so that you end up with a paradigm such as:

a) Angel wore red mishanana to Derek and Aida’s kwanjula, Susan wore a green busuuti, Jackie a blue one and Carol’s was yellow.

b) At Fred and Victoria’s kuhingira, Angel wore her blue mishanana, Susan a brown busuuti, Jackie a light blue one and Carol a pink mishanana.

c) So at Derek and Aida’s kuhingira, Angel should wear Susan’s brown busuuti of Fred and Victoria’s kuhingira, Susan should wear Carol’s pink mishanana of the same function, while Jackie should ‘put on’ Angel’s red mishanana of Derek and Aida’s kwanjula but should use this weekend as her once-a-month salon visit, handing Carol her (Jackie’s) light blue busuuti of Fred and Victoria’s kuhingira.

No-one will be able to tell what’s happening, and since none of the clothing materials involved is made in Uganda, there’s no money actually being lost to the economy.

More later.