What is it about food served on sticks that makes them taste better and fun to eat.This gets better when the food in question is beef presented on skewers when in comes to ‘Mshkaki’ beef is the leader and the rest follow.
‘Mshkaki’ has been around since the days of our ancestors when fancy grilling equipment and techniques hadn’t yet been invented,man would skewer their kill on sticks and roast them over an open fire.For something to survive the test of time,it has to be just magical and out of this world ridiculously delicious.
Hot of the grill,charred on the outside but moist and tender in the inside,that’s what I picture whenever I think about this iconic classic. when I traveled back home to the village for the Christmas holidays I had to throw down some for the family and I and in all honesty the pictures don’t even do justice to how delicious these were.
Boxing Day for us has always been a time to lazy around,everyone is either tired or nursing a food hangover and justifiably so after indulging in another Kenyan classic MbuziChoma on the 25th.
The sun was out and it felt as if time stood still.That’s when the idea hit me,why not make some skewers using whatever cuts that were left uncooked after Christmas celebrations?
I was craving for something spicy and meaty.My Mums pantry isn’t as stocked as mine and after going through it I settled on boarder line curry-ish ‘Mshkaki’.
The beef was a bit tough and to tenderize it I went for to a quick marinade that included pineapple juice.We have pineapples growing in the garden and it worked wonders.This has to be the most tender ‘Mshkaki’ I have ever had, hands down.
My marinade consisted of Paprika,black pepper,garam masala,cumin,Chilli and pineapple juice.Its flavors were just right and didn’t overpower the grassy beefy flavors from the meat.
I had my beef marinating and the ‘jiko’ up and going but I was missing one key component that would have otherwise ground my ‘Mshkaki’ dreams to a halt.
It was too late as the beef had already been cubed up and was in the fridge marinating.I had no skewers!
I wasn’t born in the city and have never been a city a boy.Growing up we used to hunt birds and rabbits before roasting them up over an open fire using hand made skewers.
It was time to take a trip back memory lane and in less than 10 minutes I had more than enough skewers from a piece of dried up firewood.
This was nostalgic and jogged my memory back to the good old days,days I was young and free roaming in the forest and tea plantations in search of small game.
Those were the good days that shaped me,leaving me with memories to last a lifetime.Ooh I miss those days.
If you have skewers with you this is one of the simplest recipes you can quickly bring together and whipping up a storm.
It all starts with a fresh cut of beef.Remove the silver membrane off the beef before cubing, otherwise you will end up with chewy beef and nobody wants that.
In a bowl combine your spices and squeeze in your pineapple juice.Mix well to combine.Taste your marinade and adjust for seasoning before mixing it in with the raw beef.Always have your beef cubes slightly bigger,that way you ran no risk of having your beef drying out as it cooks.
Salt your seasoning well as this will help the flavors in the marinade penetrate and remain behind after cooking.Its a balancing act as over salting at this stage might draw the out the moisture from your meat.
Skewer up your beef and set aside ready for the grill.You can mix in some veggies of choice at this stage. Mushrooms,peppers,onions,tomatoes,pineapples whatever you fancy.I went with green peppers alongside red onions,this was down to what was available in my my mum kitchen garden.You can skewer yours as you wish.
Grill over hot coals.The secret to succulent ‘Mshkaki’ is to do them quick over an open fire.
Don’t discard your marinade as this will be our basting sauce as you grill the ‘mshkaki’.I made a quick basting brush from rosemary and this impacted nice herby aromas to My ‘Mshkaki’
When using a marinade as a basting sauce,note it’s been in contact with raw meats and thus can only be used in the earlier stages of basting.Another way is to cook up your marinade first before using it as a basting sauce.
Serve hot of the grill.
- 1kg beef
- I tablespoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon garam masala
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon chilli powder
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/2 cup pineapple juice
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- Remove any silver membrane of the beef alongside excess fats.Cube into equal bite size chunks and set aside.
- Mix in the dry ingredients alongside your wet ingredients in a bowl.Have a taste and adjust for seasoning at this stage.
- Pour your marinade over your meat and mix well to combine.Set it in the refrigerator and let it marinate for 2 hours.
- As your beef is marinating,soak your skewers in water for at least 30 minutes.
- Take the beef out of the refrigerator 30 minutes before grilling.skewer your ‘Mshkaki’ and grill them over hot coals, basting regularly with the remaining marinade in he early stages of grilling.
- Serve sizzling hot of the grill with a side of choice.
I had fun preparing and sharing this meal over the holidays with my family in the village and always remember
“One cannot think we’ll,love well or sleep well if one hasn’t dined well”
HAPPY HOLIDAYS LOVELY PEOPLE