Under the Mongongo Tree

The author's home in Zambia. Photo credit: Annabel Hughes
Annabel Hughes

Annabel Hughes

Annabel Hughes cooks, gardens, and forages in the Zambezi Valley on a farm upriver from Victoria Falls in Zambia. Read her blog at www.SavannaBel.com.

“Land is the place where lessons are taught, where Wisdom abides; where we learn lessons about life and death from the seed broken open in darkness, dying in order to come to life in a different form, and from the compost which teaches us that decay is needed for life’s richness. Land is the place where we are healed when no words can comfort or explain. It is the place where we are taught about and find community; where everything is connected to everything else, and nothing exists independently; the place where everything feeds on and depends on the other.”

Sacred Salad

Sacred Salad Photo credit: Annabel Hughes


1. Combine the chicken stock with 237 ml (1 cup) water in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil.

2. Rinse the quinoa in a sieve under cold water until it runs clear, drain, and add to the boiling liquid. Reduce to a simmer, cover and cook until it has been absorbed by the quinoa, about 15 to 20 minutes. Set aside and cool.

3. Gently combine the chicken, fennel, red pepper, spring onions, pineapple, pumpkin seeds, and the herbs in a large mixing bowl.

4. Gently fold in the cooled quinoa, and season the salad with salt and pepper.

5. Transfer to a serving platter, and garnish with hyssop flowers and the remaining chopped herbs.

6. Whisk together olive oil and lemon juice for a dressing on the side, if the salad is too dry for your taste.

Bush Biscotti

Bush Biscotti Photo credit: Annabel Hughes


1. Heat the oven to 180° C (350° F), and line a baking tray with greased parchment paper.

2. Sift the flour into a mixing bowl, adding the hazelnut or almond meal, linseed, sunflower seeds, baking soda, and salt. Mix together well.

3. In a separate large bowl, beat the egg whites with the whole egg until light and fluffy. Then beat in the sugars and vanilla essence.

4. Using a wooden spoon, combine the flour mixture with the egg mixture, adding the Mongongo nuts, almonds and raisins at the end. (The consistency of the dough should be stiff and sticky.)

5. Spoon out the mixture and shape into two flat, oval loaves on the baking tray, dipping your fingers into a cup of water if you find it too sticky to handle.

6. Bake on a rack in the middle of the oven for 30 minutes.

7. Remove from the oven, cool for 10 minutes, and then slice according to the width you desire (we like it thin).

8. Rearrange sliced biscotti on the baking tray, return to the oven, and cook for a further five minutes, or until hard.

9. Remove and cool completely. Preserve in an airtight container to ensure crispness.