Diary of an Adventure

Juba Adventures

22nd March 13

Jog time and there was even another headlamp jogger out! I felt as though I had a dozen disconnected parts. My calf was cramping, my head doing its boiled thermometer bit, my lungs the wounded buffalo impersonation and it felt like with each step I was trying to shatter the ground. Glad I was only on the short route!!

Drivers pulled from trucks and set upon with whips and batons by police for allegedly not stopping quickly enough. Within the first fifteen minutes of a relief convoy of construction equipment leaving Juba for Yida, to get access roads built before the rains make it impossible to get assistance to the refugee camp, taxes and levies are demanded by police, at a road block.

Refugees fleeing the fighting between the SPLA and rebel groups in Jongelei mean that equipment needed to build the airstrip so relief supplies can be brought in is diverted into building a camp for the displaced. Humanitarian needs a higher priority. Evacuation of staff, for whom the risk has become too acute. Contractors, counting the cost of burnt trucks and equipment, inflate prices for the risk ensuring that any meaningful cost justification becomes impossible.

Guess one does have to wonder at the sanity of a person who works out that they save 25% of their time signing the piles of contract documents by starting at the back page and working forward, rather than starting with the first page.

Persian New Year, Nowruz, the first day of spring. Sogol cooked us dinner, full of mystery and symbolism, which we enjoyed in the new dining room at Jogchum’s house. They have transformed a dingy dump, into a light open space that is simple and extra special in Juba Town. Dishes of tah dig, a crust (made from yogurt and butter) that’s layered on the bottom of the rice pan before being covered with Basmati rice. Not any old Basmati rice, the grains are selected to be whole and the longer the better! Accompanied by a pan fried Kebab, and yogurt and fresh herbs (mint, parsley, basil, spring onion). I disappeared before the wine situation become serious.

Sogol’s quick recipe:

Tah dig
If it’s packaged Basmati Rice you follow the instruction on the package if it is the unprocessed basmati rice the instruction is:
1- Soak 1 cup of rice per person for at least 2 hrs with generous amount of salt
2- Bring fresh water to boil and add the rice
3- Boil until soft to touch
4- Pour out the water and rinse the rice so the salt is gone
5- Add vegetable oil( don’t use olive oil or as the bread and rice will stick to the bottom of the pan) on the bottom of a deep pan and line with thin layer of lavash bread
5- Add the rice and drizzle with Saffron water on top
6- Steam on high heat for 20 mins and then reduce the heat to low for another 25 mins, keep the lid closed during this time
7- Serve the rice and Tah dige with your meal

Kabab

This is a home cooked frying pan kabab, made in many Iranian family homes

Ingredients (for 4 servings)
– 100gr of minced beef per person
– 1 large onion, finely chopped
– 2 cloves of garlic finely chopped
– 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
– 1 teaspoon of turmeric
– 1 teaspoon of sumac (optional)
– salt and pepper as needed
– 4 tomatoes thinly sliced

Mix the meat with the chopped onion and garlic and the spices. Pour small amount of olive oil in a frying pan and spread the meat mixture to make a big pancake like shape. Cut the meat into pieces and put on slow heat. Half way through turn the meat pieces around and add thinly sliced tomatoes on top and let the meat cook all the way through.

You can let the meat get a bit crispy as well if you like and then serve with rice, yogurt and fresh herbs (mint, parsley, basil, spring onion)

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