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from: Eastern Africa | cooking method: boiling-simmering


Various Biriani rice dishes are common in the cuisine of India and neighboring countries. Swahili cuisine has both Biriani and Pilau, showing influences from both Arabia and India. Biriani rice dishes are also very popular in South Africa.

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China from China

For hundreds of years Chinese porcelain bowls and plates were the most desirable containers for serving and storing food in Eastern Africa. Indeed, this was the case all over the world. For over a thousand years, from about 600 to 1700, the Chinese were Ming era Chinese porcelain bowl monopoly producers of porcelain because they alone knew the secrets of its manufacture; so extensive was their control of porcelain manufacture that the word china became synonymous with porcelain. From the very beginning, Chinese porcelain was highly prized in Western Asia and the Middle East and it was traded in Eastern Africa soon thereafter.
The Swahili people were much involved in the porcelain trade. They used Chinese porcelain themselves for serving food and for display as art objects. They also incorporated Chinese porcelain into the very walls of their houses; examples of this can be seen at the Gedi ruins in Kenya. To this day, pieces of Chinese blue and white porcelain lost or broken in shipment can be found along the beaches of Lamu and Mombasa.
Most of the Chinese porcelain that ended up in Eastern Africa passed through the hands of Swahili, Arab, and Indian middlemen who regularly sailed and traded throughout the Arabian Sea, Indian ocean, and Bay of Bengal. However, on a few remarkable occasions between 1413 and 1422 Chinese ships, commanded by Admiral Zheng He (also spelled Cheng Ho, 1371-1434?), sailed as far west as Eastern Africa. These "Treasure Fleets" were comprised of dozens of ships, many larger than any other ships of the era, and they carried thousands of tons of Chinese goods to trade and to demonstrate the superiority of Chinese civilization. They also collected tribute and gifts for the emperor. On one occasion they returned to China with a giraffe, which they believed to be a chi'i-lin or unicorn. Eventually, after a new emperor came to the throne, China abandoned its program of maritime exploration and trade.

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