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Sudani Cookbook #3 Spicy potatoes and pepper salad

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Remember that in Sudan the variety of vegetables on offer is very slim. Apart from cucumbers, eggplant, potato, white and red onions and garlic, there is very little else except for frozen produce-imported and of dubious quality. This means meals can get boring and tripe very quickly. To keep our taste buds alive, we have started to use an abundance of spices-of which, Sudan has plenty!

Making simple meals with clever incorporation of different spices we can create delicious meals of very few ingredients.

This is my spicy potatoes with pepper salad

Ingredients:  potatoes, assorted spices: cumin, fenugreek, red chilli, cardamom, mustard seeds.

cucumber (Lebanese, diced), sliced garlic, white onion, green chilli diced, Greek yoghurt, black pepper.

Boil potatoes and cover in salt, spices and oil. Cut and mix salad together and serve with potatoes.

Welcome the taste explosion in your mouth!

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Shams Art Gallery

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Shams is the Arabic word for sun.

It is also the name of a tiny, ramshackle art gallery owned and run by Misbah, his brother Mutaz and their friends Afifi and Hussein. In a country where art is not at the forefront of media discussion the quartet get by selling, framing, illustrating and painting in a leisurely sort of way. In fact when I was there Hussein was immediately offered a back rub and called an ‘old man’ and offered a seat. Their work does not reflect this attitude to life, however, it is alive with feeling, saturated in ambiguity and representative of a Sudan only locals would understand.

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Above: Watercolour paintings stacked ‘neatly’ in a corner by Hussein Merghani.

Below: Getting that well deserved back rub.

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Although the gallery is by no means a commercial success, each of the four artists exhibits and sells prints in their own style. From Afifi’s large abstract acrylics to Mutaz’s delicate pastels to Hussein’s detailed watercolour landscapes-Misbah frames their work, although I am not sure if he paints or not-they show a side to Sudan removed from the creepy souvenir shops and over saturated media infamy.

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Ibrahim  El-Salahi, the Sudanese painter and pioneer of ‘African Modernism’ said “African artists are working in a vacuum.”

African art has long been explored and venerated as traditional and tribal rather than contemporary. African artists often have very little funding, small circles of interest and have restrictions on a lot of subject matter. As Hussein explained to me, he cannot possible paint a nude or anything mildly political without getting into trouble. This means that artists such as those I met at Shams gallery continue on in relative obscurity, but the joy of creation is ever present and that is enough for any true art lover.

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