Central African Republic

Steve’s house

22 April 2015

I can’t pretend that we were looking forward to this one. The menu didn’t look promising at first, with the dreaded fufu (tasteless dough made from cassava flour and water) poised to take centre stage. However, lowering our expectations to rock bottom paid off with pleasant surprises all round.

IMG_3929

Joe started with Ragout d’epinards aux arachides, a stew of spinach and peanut butter that worked out nicely, the butter part forming a rich sauce around the spinach, cut through with chili and tomato.

IMG_3932Then came Steve’s Kanda, meatballs in a tomato chilli sauce, but no ordinary meatballs. These were formed of almost as much ground pumpkin seed as meat, which created a surprisingly light and moist consistency. Normally they would be served with fufu, but we saw no reason to ruin it.

IMG_3935Finally, Sophie deep-fried her delicate banana fritters in a lime-tinged batter, which were light and crisp outside with meltingly sweet interiors.

An impressive performance across the board. We should be slower to judge (and avoid fufu if at all possible).

Scores

Food: 3.5/5

Recipes

Ragout d’epinards aux arachides

400g spinach
1 onion, chopped
1 green pepper
1 red chili, chopped
1 tbsp peanut butter
80ml water
1 medium tomato
salt and pepper

Fry onion on low heat for 5 mins. Add pepper & tomato & fry for 1 minute. Add chili & spinach. Cover to wilt. Add water and peanut butter and mix into sauce. Cover and simmer for 15 mins until thick.

Kanda

350g steak mince
350ml pumpkin seeds
1 onion, 1/2 chopped and 1/2 sliced
3.5 cloves of garlic, mashed
2 large fresh tomatoes, peeled, seeded and diced
1 red chili
1 small bunch of parsley
50ml iced water for the meatballs
175ml water for the sauce
50ml groundnut oil
salt & pepper

Slightly roast pumpkin seeds in a pan, then grind to a powder. Put mince into a food processor and add pumpkin seed, garlic and chopped onion and mix up. Season with salt and pepper.

Stir in the iced water and knead well for 3 minutes. Refrigerate for 30 mins.

Fry onion slices in oil for 2 minutes over medium heat in a large pot. Add the tomatoes and chili and cook for 5 minutes.

Pour in rest of water and bring to a boil, then simmer. Meanwhile, make meatballs, each about the size of a golf ball. Turn up the heat and place each meatball in the sauce very carefully.

Cook over high heat for 10 minutes, then on medium heat for 20 minutes, and finally simmer for 30 minutes. Serve with plain rice.

Beignets de banane

3 ripe bananas
6 tbsp plain flour
1 tbsp sugar
pinch of salt
1 egg, separated
finely-grated zest of 1 lime
100ml milk
1 tsp water
1l oil, for frying
icing sugar, for dusting
Sift together the flour, sugar and salt into a large bowl. Form a well in the centre and add the egg yolk. Stir to combine then add the milk and water. Beat until the batter is smooth. Add the egg white to a clean and dry bowl, then beat until stiff. Gently fold into the batter along with the lime zest. Cover and set aside to rest in a cool place for at least 60 minutes.
Peel the bananas and cut into slices. Heat the oil in a pan and when hot, dip the banana slices in the batter and immediately drop into the hot oil. Fry until nicely browned and heated through. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper as you cook the next batch. Serve hot, dusted with icing sugar.
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