A volcanic archipelago off Africa’s east coast, the Comoros are situated in the Indian Ocean and consists of three major islands – Grande Comore, Mohéli and Anjouan as well as numerous smaller islands. It has a claim on a fourth major island, Mayotte (Maore), though Mayotte voted against independence from France in 1974, it has never been administered by an independent Comoros government, and continues to be administered by France. The Comoros have been called the “perfumed islands” for their fragrant plant life including frangipani, jasmine, and lemongrass and they are also known for their great scenic beauty.
Agriculture, including fishing, hunting, and forestry, is the leading sector of the economy. It contributes 40% to GDP, employs 80% of the labor force, and provides most of the country’s exports. Economic growth and poverty reduction are major priorities for the government. Customary oral law includes sanctions against disrespect toward elders, disobedience, theft, and adultery. Until a fine is paid in money or cattle, a convicted person is banished, and he and his family are cut off from the village’s social life.
Since independence there have been a number of coups and attempted coups with various heads of state assassinated. In 1997 the islands of Anjouan and Mohéli declared independence, but a new federal constitution in 2001 brought the islands back together.
Despite it’s beautiful beaches, virgin rainforests and historical architecture, a holiday in the Comoros isn’t for everyone. Everything moves ‘mora mora’ (slowly slowly), tourist facilities aren’t plush, women are expected to cover up and alcohol is a no no, but if you’re feeling brave and up for somewhere exotic it may be for you.
Rice is the staple daily diet with manioc, root vegetables, plantains, fish and coconut milk. It was quite tricky finding authentic Comorian recipes but these were a few I came across; Langouste a la vanilla (Lobster with Vanilla Sauce), M’tsolola (Green plantains with fish in coconut milk), Donas (doughnuts) and Mkatra siniya (rice and coconut cake). I made Poulet au Coco (Comorian coconut chicken) which was really simple to make, had a great flavour and went well with the Zimbabwean peanut butter rice. Steamed rice would work equally well.
Prep time: 15 minutes + 2 hours marinating time
Cook time: 25 – 30 minutes
2 chicken breasts cubed
juice of 1/2 lemon
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp turmeric
salt and pepper
1/2 onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
3 cherry tomatoes, peeled and chopped
160ml can of coconut cream
1/4 cup water
fresh coriander leaves, roughly chopped
Mix lemon juice, turmeric and cumin, salt and pepper together in a plastic bag with the chicken cubes and leave in the fridge for a couple of hours
In a frying pan, add a little oil and fry the chicken gently without browning for about 5 – 7 minutes
Add the onion, garlic and tomato, stir well and cook for a few minutes
Add the coconut cream and 1/4 cup of water and bring it to a rolling simmer
Let it simmer away until the chicken is cooked and the sauce has reduced, about 15 – 20 minutes.
If the sauce has thickened too much, you can add a little more water
Sprinkle with coriander and serve with rice