Saturday, April 17, 2010

DR Congo

I decided that this week we would have dinner featuring the cuisine of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Now, usually I try to use recipes from specific regions in the country such as the Northern Indian food we had last week; or featuring the food of a specific ethnic group such as the malay food we had on Malaysian night. However I could only find recipes that were broadly labeled “Congolese”...which of course does not specifically locate the recipe in the DR Congo. As the DR Congo is geographically larger than the Louisiana Purchase and as the UN estimated that there are over 250 different ethnic groups living in DR Congo, I know there is more variety in cuisine than I realize, and I am somewhat disappointed that I wasn’t able to be more accurate in my recipe choice but you can only do what you can do.
As I was driving back from field ed Thursday I stopped at a Jamaican/ Caribbean/ African Market on Broadway. I was hoping to get cassava root to make fufu. Fufu is a staple in West and Central Africa, it can be made from a number of root vegetables which are then mashed. It is served thick enough that it can be shaped into balls, from which you can tear of little bits to shape and scoop-up stew. So I was looking for cassava (which is the same plan used for tapioca) when I was shopping I was seduced by instant fufu. I admit that this was a cheap move but I as worried about all that I have to do this week and decided to go ahead and get it. The instant did work fine, but I must hypothesize that this instant variety was really to real fufu as instant mash potatoes are to real mash potatoes. Also, a few words to the wise: just as one should slowly add instant mash potatoes to the water so they don’t clump, so too should the instant fufu be slowly added to the boiling water. Also, I tried to eat the fufu warm, but it was really sticky and messy. The next morning after being in the fridge all night, the fufu worked just as I think its supposed to; so be advised and make it in advance and let it cool in the fridge.

To accompany this I made “Poulet Moambe” which is a chicken stew made with Palm Butter. I was however also unable to find palm butter and read that peanut butter could be substituted. The stew really turned out pretty good, I will admit to being a little skeptical about a chicken, onion, okra peanut butter stew, but Scott and I both liked it a lot. It was savory, sweet, peanut butter and spicy all at the same time. I didn’t however find that the fufu added much...but again if it were homemade I’m sure that it would have been much better.

For the Poulet Moambe, I used the following recipe:
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
3 boneless/ skinless chicken breasts, cube
pinch hot pepper
Salt and pepper
1 C peanut butter
1/2 lg yellow onion, diced
1 lg tomato, diced
2 handfuls okra, chopped
1 cloves garlic, diced
1 handful fresh italian parsley, chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, diced

Season chicken with salt and pepper and brown in hot oil. When the chicken is well browned, add hot pepper to taste. Then add 1 c peanut butter and 1-2 cups water along with the rest of the ingredients. Let boil until thick, being sure to constantly watch and stir so as to prevent the peanut butter from sticking to the bottom and burning.

Adapted from:


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