Consider

bobotie

(pronounced

boh-BOH-tee

) a sort of South African meatloaf, albeit a heavily seasoned one thanks to the many Southeast Asian spices that long ago made their way to this country.

Some versions mix mashed potatoes into the recipe. This one uses the more traditional slices of bread soaked in milk. Bobotie usually is served with saffron rice, but consider serving it with roasted or mashed potatoes on the side.

BOBOTIE

3/4 cup milk, divided

2 slices white bread

1 teaspoon ghee or butter

1 large yellow

onion, diced

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 jalapeno chili, seeds and ribs discarded, then diced

1 apple, peeled and diced

1 1/2 tablespoons

curry powder

1 teaspoon

turmeric

2 pounds lean ground beef or turkey

1 teaspoon brown sugar

1/2 cup golden raisins

1/3 cup slivered almonds

Salt and freshly ground black

pepper, to taste

2 lemons

2 eggs

6 bay leaves

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly coat a 9-by-9-inch baking pan with cooking spray.

Place the slices of bread in a shallow bowl, then drizzle them with 1/4-cup milk. Set aside.

In a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat, melt the ghee. Add the onion, garlic and chili, then saute until the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the apple, curry powder and turmeric, then saute another 3 minutes.

Add the ground beef and saute, breaking up with a spoon, until cooked through and browned, about 8 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat.

Remove the bread from the milk, squeezing out and discarding any liquid. Break the bread into small pieces and mix into the pot.

Mix in the brown sugar, raisins, almonds, salt, pepper, the juice and zest of 1 lemon, and 1 egg. Transfer the mixture to the prepared baking pan, using a spatula to smooth the top.

Cut the remaining lemon into wedges and insert them vertically into the meat. Insert the bay leaves in the same manner. Cover the pan with foil, then bake for 20 minutes.

In a small bowl whisk together the remaining egg and 1/2-cup milk. Remove the pan from the oven and remove and discard the lemon wedges and bay leaves. Smooth the top of the meat.

Pour the milk and egg mixture over the meat, then bake, uncovered, for an additional 30 minutes, or until the top is lightly browned and set. Let stand 10 minutes before serving. Serves 6.

This simple blend of steamed eggplant and simmered tomatoes from Morocco is great warmed or chilled. The flavors become more intense if the dish is allowed to stand an hour before serving. Serve it as a dip with flatbread or over rice and chicken.

MASHED EGGPLANT, TOMATO AND GARLIC SALAD

2 large eggplants

Sea salt

3 large tomatoes

4 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed

Leaves from 1 bunch cilantro, finely chopped

2 teaspoons cumin

1 teaspoon white pepper

2 teaspoons sweet paprika

Squeeze lemon juice

Extra-virgin olive oil

Trim the ends off each eggplant. One at a time, stand each eggplant on end and use a vegetable peeler to remove lengthwise strips of skin, skipping every other strip (creating vertical stripes).

Chop the eggplants into chunks, then transfer to a colander and sprinkle generously with salt. Set the colander over a bowl or sink and let drain 30 minutes. Rinse the eggplant of excess salt, then pat dry with paper towels.

Fill a medium saucepan fitted with a steamer basket with 1 inch of water. Bring to a boil. Place the eggplant in the steamer basket, cover and steam for 15 minutes.

Transfer the eggplant back to the colander. Use the back of a large spoon to break up the chunks, creating a semi-mash and draining any excess liquid. Set aside.

Cut each tomato in half. Set a box grater over a large, deep skillet. Grate the tomato halves into the pan, discarding the skins. Add the garlic, half the cilantro, cumin, pepper and paprika. Heat on low, stirring occasionally, until the sauce thickens, about 20 minutes.

Stir the eggplant into the sauce and sprinkle with remaining cilantro. Just before serving, drizzle with lemon juice and olive oil. Serves 4.

Recipe adapted from Fiona Dunlop's "The North African Kitchen" (Interlink Books).

"Piri piri" is the Portuguese name for the tiny, red five-alarm chilies (also known as birds-eye chilies) which grow wild throughout much of Africa. Throughout the continent, they are used to add serious punch to sauces.

In this dish, New York chef Marcus Samuelsson purees them for a simple marinade and dipping sauce for shrimp.

SHRIMP PIRI PIRI

8 red birds-eye chilies, seeds and ribs removed, chopped

1/2 cup fresh lemon juice

1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro

1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

2 garlic cloves

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided

12 raw jumbo shrimp, peeled and

deveined

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 limes, quartered

12 large lettuce leaves (such as bibb or romaine)

To make the piri piri sauce, in a blender combine the chilies, lemon juice, cilantro, parsley and garlic. Puree until smooth. With the blender running, slowly pour in 1/2-cup olive oil and blend until well combined.

In a large bowl, toss the shrimp with half of the piri piri sauce. Refrigerate for 20 minutes.

In a large skillet, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium. Add the shrimp and cook for 2 minutes per each side, or until opaque throughout.

Transfer the shrimp to a plate and sprinkle with the salt. Squeeze the lime quarters over the shrimp.

Spread 1/2-teaspoon of the remaining piri piri sauce over each lettuce leaf. Place a shrimp on each leaf and roll up to form a wrap. Serve immediately. Makes 4 appetizer servings.

Recipe from Marcus Samuelsson's "The Soul of a New Cuisine" (Wiley).