Sunday 6 September 2015

Jambo Bwana

Yes, I know that is a strange title for a post on my blog, but it is relevant. Let me tell you how.

Many years ago (some time in the early 1990s) we had a holiday in Kenya, spending part of the time on safari in the Tsavo game reserve and part of the time at a beach resort just north of Mombasa. We ate some interesting food in Kenya. I remember eating Eland steak. I remember that practically every meal was served with green beans and turned potatoes (you know, ones that have been carved into perfect elliptical shapes). I also remember a really fabulous soup, made with tomatoes and pumpkin, and it is this soup that has inspired my post today - I am attempting to make something a bit like it.

Oh, and the "Jambo Bwana" thing? Well, the resident entertainer at our hotel was a rather portly "musician" inappropriately called Slim Ali, whose signature tune was the ubiquitous song "Jambo Bwana". It went: "Jambo! Jambo Bwana. Habari ga ni? Mzuri sana" (etc). This is Swahili for "Hello! Hello sir, how are you? Very well" - hardly inspiring lyrics I think, but memorable, as you can see!

Well anyway, my soup began with making some nice chicken stock, using the carcass of a chicken we had eaten roasted the previous day.

Then I roasted a Butternut squash (I didn't have a pumpkin), smothered in olive oil and black pepper.

When the squash was cooked, I scraped the flesh off the skins, which I discarded.

Meanwhile, I roasted a big batch of homegrown tomatoes, along with some garlic, a chilli and a sprinkling of dried Oregano. I also added a chopped onion, which I only remembered after I had taken this photo.

After about 40 minutes in the oven (at 180C) the tomatoes had completely fallen and everything had nice brown edges. Roasting the tomatoes concentrates the flavour.

Allowing the tomatoes a short while to cool a bit, I passed them through our trusty mouli-legumes, which removed the skins and seeds, leaving a rich fragrant pulp.

Now it was just a case of putting all these ingredients together. Into the blender went stock, tomato pulp and Butternut squash flesh. They were all cooked already, so it was only necessary to zuzz them up together to mix them thoroughly and to achieve a nice smooth texture. The blended mixture was tipped into a pan, and at the appropriate moment heated up and served with some crusty home-made bread. Et Voila! Soup...

Well, I'm not really sure how close this soup was to that which we had all those years ago in Kenya, but I think it was probably very similar. It was simultaneously sweet from the squash and deeply savoury from the chicken stock, but the dominant flavour was definitely the tangy tomato.

Siwezi kusema kiswahili. Kwaheri!


  1. It sounds delicious. Not that I can eat it. When I started not being able to eat so many things, I looked to different cultures to try to find foods that I could eat. I was hoping that Africa would be an inspiration for cooking, but found they use tomatoes and peppers in practically everything.

  2. It sounds very tasty, it's certainly heading towards soup weather isn't it.

  3. Interesting to know the story behind your post title. This looks delicious. I'm dying to make this soup but it has to be made with home-grown tomatoes. Our planting season is coming.:)

  4. That does look good. I have to admit that I never make my own tomato soup as Heinz is a favourite in this house but adding butternut squash sounds like a good option which I may try, I've got so many tomatoes to use up.

  5. Mark your soup looks delicious, you explain your recipes very well, I am really enjoying reading your blog :)

  6. That soup does sound wonderful - I've made a note to give this one a try come winter. Right now we are sitting at 36C with the humidity, so it is definitely NOT soup weather!

  7. That looks really tasty, I would not have thought of combining tomato and pumpkin/squash together, but I can see how they would compliment each other. I'll have to keep it in mind for when the season for hot soup rolls around.

  8. That sounds delightful Mark, it seems to be getting colder here so just the thing to keep me warm.


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