Chapatis, green gram and heart ache


I watch from three stories up as the Slit lamp in a tattered brown box is unloaded below our flat window. Finally it has arrived and all the hard work getting the various items of diagnostic kit here has come, the project can begin!

Lucas is far more interested in the tuk tuk that has just arrived with it’s engine spluttering and shiny red chassis, he has no idea how important this delivery is. Andrew helps unload and carry the slit lamp up to the office flat.   I am chasing Lucas around our flat to change his poo filled nappy. Andrew returns from the office looking gutted.  After eventually finding a customs clearing agent through a friend (we are assured this is normal practice here) we were hopeful this saga would be over.  The initial cost for the clearing service was £450 but Andrew negotiated it to £300. This included DHL charging for “storage” even though they’s lost it in Uganda for some time?! Andrew opened the box to find a much older version of the slit lamp than expected, which if not damaged with important bits missing would still not have been suitable for the project. After a month waiting with a fully trained team ready to to start on the 100 villages we are back to square one… no slit lamp, no project.  Some of the project team have given up jobs (which are hard enough to get here as it is) and two others have taken time out of their studies to be involved. There is no budget currently for a £12,000 slit lamp and how we get one here is another issue, however the challenge  is under way and to be continued……..

Although feeling gutted and let down with the slit lamp and some other issues (for another blog) there have been a few proud and great moments, including my first attempt at the national Kenyan bread,  Chapati accompanied with “green gram”…which is basically mung bean stew. This is actually very easy to make, tastes great and is healthy!  I did feel proud when I served up a plate of chapatis and green gram for the boys! I hope it softened the blow a little.

I’m still getting my endorphin hit in the freezing pool, you’d think I’d be used to it by now but every time I come out Andrew thinks I am going to pass out. We put the heart ache of last week behind us and enjoyed the weekend together. We had a nice long walk in the sunshine, Lucas admiring passing tuk tuks and animals and found a good place to watch England destroy New Zealand in the rugby whilst enjoying a fish masala and turbo naan (naan bread covered in green chillies). It doesn’t feel like Christmas here but I am doing my bit and have made an advent calendar full of surprises including some home made chocolate coated almonds and coffee beans (no longer a surprise). We have a small rosemary bush growing on the roof in a water bottle, this may be our Christmas tree. We’ve just made an angel to go on top of it out of a toilet roll and Lucas has managed to get glue in his hair!

Andrew and Stew have made some great progress on the EYE-Phone app and it has highlighted how important a cheap, portable solution to diagnosing eye disease could be when just getting the usual equipment in to the country is so difficult.

Next weekend we have some great friends (Lucas’ godparents and their daughter) joining us for 10 days following a 4 month spell teaching in South Sudan, we are really looking forward to having them stay with us. Sounds like they need a break – we hope the toilet works now.

If you would like to try real Kenyan food, this is so easy to make and yummy! I’ve got to confess the chapatis do taste good but they are coated in oil and I much prefer to dry fry them, however when dry fried I think then they are actually called tortillas!

Lucas is a fan

Recipe – Chapatis and Mung Bean Stew

Ingredients – Chapati

4 cups (340g) chapati flour (this is a mix of rye, amaranthus, millet and wholegrain wheat) – you can just use wholemeal flour and should get the same result

2 cups (280g/ml) warm water

Half tsp salt

Ingredients – Mung bean stew

1tsp olive oil

Finely chopped onion

2 cooking tomatoes (large)

Salt, pepper

Approx 300g Mung beans


1. Soak mung beans in water overnight
2. Boil until mung beans soft
3. To make Chapati – mix the flour, water and salt, bring together into a dough and knead for 7 minutes until dough soft and elastic.
4. Roll out on a lightly floured surface until about 3mm thick and brush olive oil all over surface.
5. Cut oiled dough into 10 strips, then roll each strip up into a coiled ball.
6. To roll out on a lightly  floured surface, place the concentric rings upwards and roll until desired size and about 1-2mm thick.
7. To cook, heat a non-stick frying pan, place the chapati dough onto the pan for about 1-2 minutes until just lightly cooked and you see slight bubbles in the dough, turn over until lightly cooked, do this again lightly brush a little olive oil over the chapati on both sides, cook for a couple of minutes on each side until it looks like the picture.
8. Repeat 7 for each chapati
9. In separate pan, saute onions in olive oil and when soft and clear add chopped tomatos and a pinch of salt
10. Cook until tomatoes soft and beginning to become paste like then add in the soft mung beans and water you don’t need to drain.
11. Simmer on a low heat for 20-30mins until you are happy with flavour.
Happy Advent

7 thoughts on “Chapatis, green gram and heart ache

  1. I am soo gutted for you all but I know that your positive attitudes will create some way to achieve the dream allow the project to get started. If there is anything tha can be done from this end please let me know (obviously do not even know what a slit lamp looks like). Have an amazing time with friends and keep the Christmas decorations going….maybe some snow flakes. Take care Love Kat xx

  2. Gutted to hear about the slit lamp, like you say, hopefully your App will make it redundant one day!!! We’re definitely going to try this recipe too (if we m,ake it out next year, we HAVE to try turbo naans!!!! Love to you all xxx

  3. Hi Guys feel gutted for you, but know that out of the disaster there will be sunshine and I am sure another slit lamp, have got fingers and toes crossed for you. Have a great time with Lucas’ godparents. Keep smiling, I know you will, you are both amazing, not to mention the fab Lucas

  4. If there’s anything at all that we can try and do to help get you a new slit lamp, please please please let us know, even if it’s just trying to get in touch with anyone in the UK or helping get some more money together.
    But as always, you manage to remain upbeat and another fab blog (and cute piccie of Lucas!).
    Can you send me your address?

  5. Presumably there are also mung beans in the mung bean stew…? 😉

    So gutted about the slit lamp, but sure there will be a good way forward that comes clear.

    So excited to see you guys on Saturday! Lyd sending details soon…

    Much love from us all x

  6. Ahhhhh How frustrating for you!! You poor things! We are feeling your pain & praying for you.
    Mad, I’ve sent an email to your google mail account about a friend who’s just come back from Kenya having visited some community projects out there & was wondering if I could put you in touch. Are you still checking your email or should I send it to a different address?
    Loving your Angel for your Christmas tree! Very good art skills young Lucas!! Jasmine is getting so excited about Christmas. She’s obsessed by Christmas trees & can’t wait to put ours up. Father Christmas came down our road on a noisy, & colourful float raising money for the local primary school this evening. It was bathtime & the girls loved it – they stood naked at the window waving while Pete was frantically looking for some cash to donate & I was looking slightly more frantically for some small pyjamas!!
    Everyone here has hacking coughs & the winter sick bug so please don’t miss GB too much!! Loads of love xxxx

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