Iowa Writes

Sudan Iowa Casserole

     My family and I came from Sudan. Since I was a little girl and teen, I had dreamed of coming to America. The land of gold paved streets and white candy that fell from the sky. Imagine my surprise when I came to this country! It was still beautiful with its lush green ground and great brown buildings, but it definitely was not what I expected.
     At first my family (my husband and my two children—a girl and a boy) lived in Virginia. We got a call from my husband's friend telling us to come to Iowa because it is safe, has great education, and is an amazing place to raise kids. My husband and I took the first plane over here and have resided in Iowa City for twelve long years. I am still happy about our decision.
     In Sudan everything was fresh, tasty, and delicious. Mangos here are blah, whereas I could have a fresh, fleshy, juicy mango every day in Sudan. There are many spices and herbs that I used in my recipes that I cannot find or are not available here. I import coriander and dill from Sudan. Coriander I add to meats, chicken, lamb, and beef. The Sudanese dill tastes much better. Overall I'm disappointed by the taste of the foods here. I prefer fresh and tasty.
     My family and I have always had a taste for creamy rich meals, such as Mulah or Molokhia, a Middle Eastern and West African dish using stew beef, camel, lamb, veal, or goat. It includes tomato paste or sauce, vegetables, small okra, cubed potatoes, yam, zucchini, pumpkins, beans, or peas. These meals have been a family favorite, but we haven't always liked the growing waistlines that come with them. With this recipe for a reduced fat alternative, we're tricking our taste buds into thinking we're eating something fatty, when really this dish is stuffed with vegetable and animal protein as well as calcium, minerals, and vitamins. We have got the best of both worlds combined into this one delicious meal.

1 zucchini, chopped
½ can chickpeas
½ can lima beans, yellow
Green beans, sliced
Green and red onion, sliced
Tomatoes, sliced
Chicken breast, chopped
Chicken broth
Mozzarella cheese (fat-free optional), grated
Mexican cheese, grated
Kale (frozen flakes)
Green pepper
Spices: coriander, parsley, cinnamon, salt and pepper

•  Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
•  In a pan, cook green beans, zucchini, green pepper, chickpeas, lima beans, and green and red onions.
•  Add the tomato slices and season to taste. Steam on the stove until vegetables absorb the juices.
•  In a separate pan, cook chopped chicken breast with a little chicken broth.
•  Add chicken to vegetables. Sprinkle kale flakes over the top.
•  Spread the mix in a casserole dish. Cover the casserole with shredded cheeses.
•  Bake for 30 minutes.

About Iowa Writes

Since 2006, Iowa Writes has featured the work of Iowa-identified writers (whether they have Iowa roots or live here now) and work published by Iowa journals and publishers on The Daily Palette. Iowa Writes features poetry, fiction, or nonfiction twice a week on the Palette.

In November of 2008, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) designated Iowa City, Iowa, the world's third City of Literature, making the community part of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network.

Iowa City has joined Edinburgh, Scotland and Melbourne, Australia as UNESCO Cities of Literature.

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Azooz's story and recipe were included in Food Roots, a cookbook published in 2010 by Local Foods Connection (LFC) in collaboration with an Art and Ecology class at the University of Iowa. Clients and farmers interviewed for this book come from Illinois, Iowa, California, Mexico, Guatemala, Republic of the Sudan, The Togolese Republic, El Salvador, and Thailand.

Local Foods Connection ( enrolls low-income families and the agencies that serve them in CSA programs. CSAs provide a season's worth of fresh produce to consumers while paying local earth-friendly farmers fair prices for the food they grow, raise, and produce. Clients have the opportunity to visit a farm, as well as to learn healthy cooking methods. These opportunities are part of LFC's larger educational program, which covers nutrition, cooking, and environmental issues.

This page was first displayed
on July 01, 2011

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