I work in Jahazi Conference Centre situated in Mombasa, Kenya. My work is like Dora’s, and because of that I go to her intercession often, asking her to help me with the work at hand and with the formation of the young people working with me. We have students doing their studies at Tewa Training Centre who come to do practical work in the Conference Centre.
Let us take a look at a typical day in the kitchen. The students arrive at 8.45 am and I check how they are dressed. Personal grooming is important. It has a huge impact on the personal attitude. Clean and well turned-out students cheer the mood, especially on a busy day when for example we are preparing a special lunch.
Briefing of the day’s events follows. After the briefing, the first fifteen minutes are spent keeping the department clean. We clean the shelves, window mesh, drawers and different areas following the daily and weekly cleaning schedules. There is some disturbance with the flies as it is their season. Water with vinegar is used to clean the surfaces frequently to facilitate working. Esther is assigned this task. She does it very well and even suggests we should buy an electric machine for catching the flies.
The actual preparation and production begins. The menu is displayed on the white board and each student takes her position. Today we are making a typical lunch from the coastal region of Kenya.The menu reads: Chicken biryani, Fried fish, Maharagwe ya nazi (beans with coconut), Viazi Karai (potatos, fried), Bhajia, wali wa nazi (rice with coconut) and Mchicha. It should be ready by 1.00pm. We have 36 guests.
I go through the menu with Catherine who will prepare the Chicken biryani. She grates the coconut using Mbuzi (a traditional grater). She grates enough for the day. It will be used to prepare maharagwe ya nazi, wali wa nazi and mchicha wa nazi. The chicken biryani does not need coconut but it requires a lot of concentration because of the variety of spices that are to be used.
She divides the chicken into portions…… I check on her occasionally. The other students are busy with what has been assigned to them. They clear as they work. This ensures order and efficiency: there are a variety of dishes to be produced and also the same sauce pans need to be used by others.
At 12.30 all the students serve and present the food to the supervisor. The chicken biryani has come out as expected! The viazi karai lost their colour but are okay; the rest is all in order. To crown it all there is also the refreshing tamarind juice.
Esther and Brenda make a fascinating fruit arrangement. The meal is presented in the dining room.
The guests enjoy their meal. They go away happier than they came. The dishes come back empty! Everyone in the kitchen smiles and feels motivated to do better next time. All give suggestions on what can improve. I give thanks to Dora for keeping an eye on us, and ask her to teach us to sanctify this work of ours that causes so much joy for others.
RECIPE FOR CHICKEN BIRYANI
INGREDIENTS FOR 25 PEOPLE
Chicken (portioned and precooked) 5kg
Green pawpaw. Grated(Raw) 500gms
Cloves 1 ½ Tsp
Cardamon 1 ½ Tsp
Garlic 3 cloves
Cumin powder 1Tsp
Peppercorn or white pepper ½ Tsp
Fresh ginger pounded 1pt
Chillies (Red chopped) 4pcs
Paprika 1 Table spoon
Yoghurt (Natural) 750 ml
Tomato paste 250gms
Onion (sliced) ½ kg
Dhana jeera 1Tsp
Potatoes (cubes) 500gms
Rice 1 ½ kg
Salt 1 ½ Table spoon
Tomatoes Blanched skinned and chopped) 500gms
METHOD FOR BIRYANI
- Peel and grate the pawpaw and set aside
- Heat half the ghee and fry the onion until brown and crisp.
- Remove the onions and set aside.
- Heat the remaining ghee and fry the garlic add pounded cloves, Cardamons, cinnamon, garlic, dhana jeera, dhania, ginger, peppercorns or pepper and chillies and stir it well.
- Add pawpaw, yoghurt, tomatoes, paprika tomato paste or puree and salt.
- Add chicken stock, simmer for twenty minutes and then add chicken simmer for half an hour.
- Mix the food colour with little water and sprinkle it in the chicken. Stir gently.
- Put half of the onions and leave some for garnishing, add the potato cubes and continue cooking for twenty minutes.
- Serve with boiled rice.
- One can use boneless chicken, cut into cubes and browned with salt and oil
- Use oil or fat if you do not have ghee.
- You can also use beef following the same procedure.