Rae’s sharing her heritage through this matoke
Get to know Rae in this Q&A and get her “Matoke with chicken and tomato stew,” in Little Village WEDNESDAY (11/6) and THURSDAY night (11/7)!
Q: What’s your cooking background, or how did you first learn to cook?
Rae: I learned how to cook around 5th grade to help out my mother in the kitchen. The first thing I cooked was ground beef for red sauce. Nine years ago I graduated from culinary school and worked in Chicago, Madison, Wisconsin, and Oregon in Michelin-starred and James Beard Award-winning restaurants.
Q: What can you tell us about the dish you’re making and what inspired it?
Rae: The dish is chicken curry and green bananas (matoke). I was inspired by my childhood and my heritage. My mom is Ugandan Indian and made chicken curry for me and my siblings when we were young. Matoke is a dish my dad ate often, so his memory inspired me to make it.
Q: What does the dish remind you of?
Rae: When making this chicken curry, I think about how this is the first dish my mom taught me to make, so it reminds me of my childhood. Also, the mother of my friend, who is Nigerian Canadian, has made this for me when visiting her, so it reminds me how the African diaspora we share includes the same dishes, even if they are made in totally different ways.
Q: Where did you grow up and what kind of food did you grow up with?
Rae: I grew up in a mix of Midwestern/American and Indian-African cuisines. My family ate both casseroles and Ugandan-Indian food on special holidays. We ate lamb curry, aloo and gobi, and my favorite, poori (fried puffy bread).
Q: What’s your favorite food memory?
Rae: In college my sister and I visited my dad in Uganda, and every day I ate chai and beef sambusas. Sambusas are East African samosas, but the wrapper is very thin. They taste amazing.
Q: Anything else we should know about you and your cooking?
Rae: I want to show people my Ugandan heritage through my food, and in a way that everyone can enjoy.