Food – Queen of peppers

2010-05-15 11:48

Traditional folklore says that when a man in Cameroon is looking for a wife, he will select a woman from the region that ­specialises in his favourite dish.

Popular dishes are:
Ndolé, Mbongo tchobi and cassava

» Ndolé
A well-known dish of the Basa people of the coastal region of Cameroon. This dish is typically served on special occasions.

Ndolé is made from the bitter leaf plant and combines the bitter leaves with groundnuts, beef and crayfish for a tasty stew which can be served with rice, plantain, yam or manioc.

The bitter leaf plant also has medicinal detoxifying qualities that are known to calm stomach disorders.

» Cassava/Manioc
A staple root vegetable known in Cameroon as God’s gift because the entire plant can be used.

The leaves are used in sauces as a rich source of vitamins.

The root can be pounded into grains called gari and cooked in a similar way to pap. It can also be eaten dry. The root of the plant is used as firewood to cook.

» Mbongo Tchobi
Mbongo is a special selection of spices and special herbs found in Cameroon which are blended together with tomatoes and seasoning to make the tasty sauce for the dish.

Tchobi is the black river fish also known as machouron. A delicacy in some areas, tchobi is cooked with mbongo sauce.
Serve with rice or cassava/manioc.

Special preparations are made by the head chef, Judith Akwani from Cameroon.

Mama Clara is known as the queen of pepper sauce. A mother and chef for the past 10 years, she has created a legendary pepper sauce which is blended with 15 spices for good taste.

Resident at the Ambassade Restaurant, Mama Clara runs the grill offering a delicious selection of different Cameroonian style roast foods. Her specialities include:

» Roast fish
Usually kob, jackfish and karapa served with her famous chilli sauce, chips and mayonnaise

» Plantains
Large plants related to sweet fruit bananas. Plantains are fried when ripe and served with a pepper or tomato based gravy for a sweet piquant taste sensation.

Green plantains are peeled and boiled to a firm but soft consistency. Then rolled to make banana tappe – a favourite with roast fish.

» Beignet haricots/ puff puff & beans
A popular breakfast dish in Cameroon puff puff (beignets) are made from flour, yeast, sugar and salt, kneaded and deep-fried into balls of deliciousness.

The beans are mostly sugar beans (readily available in SA) which are cooked with onions, tomatoes, crayfish, leeks and spices and served with the puff puffs.

It is served with a porridge made of maize meal especially when the weather is cold.

» Sunday special: achu/coco yam and achu soup
The achu or coco yam is a root vegetable which is popular across Central and West Africa. It is similar to the madumbe found in South Africa. Achu is a dish from Bamenda Central in the North West region of ­Cameroon.

Preparation: the achu is boiled and pounded to make a thick mash

Achu soup combines 24 spices, pepper, large tripe and beef, cowskin and dry fish all mixed with the aromatic palm oil (from the palm tree)

>>Catch Mama Clara every night at the Ambassade Restaurant, 23 Rockey Street, Yeoville.  Achu is served on Sunday from 11am to 3pm.

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