WEEK 14 – Democratic Republic of the Congo
So this week I got Congo out of the box and decided I really wanted to make something a bit different – what about a soup? I’ll give it a try!
Formerly known as Zaire, Congo is the 11th largest country in the world and the 2nd largest country in Africa.
Its capital city, Kinshasa, was originally called Léopoldville in honour of King Leopold II of Belgium who controlled the Congo in the 1800’s, is the second largest French speaking city (after Paris) in the world. All schools, newspapers, government, television, magazines and street signs are in French. The city is located on the southern side of the Congo river directly opposite to the capital of the Republic of Congo, Brazzaville. It is the only place in the world, where two countries capital cities, face each other and can see one another on opposite sides of a river.
The Congo has five World Heritage Sites within its borders, four being National Parks and the other a Wildlife Reserve. Stretching over most of the country is a tropical rainforest known as the Congo Rainforest, it is the second largest rainforest in the world after the Amazon.
The Congolese cuisine heavily reflects the indigenous people of the country. Cassava is the staple food often cooked and eaten with other side dishes. . Meals typically consist of a starchy ingredient; cassava, sweet potato, taro, maize and plantain and rice, along with vegetables and meat in the form of a stew. Chicken with a Moambe sauce is considered the national dish of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. With less than 2% of the land able to be used for faming, Congo does not produce very much food on its home turf but imports quite a lot. The two most important crops for export are coffee and palm oil.
What I Made:
Having a look through some different recipes from the Congo I noticed we weren’t going to be able to get a lot of the ingredients needed to make some of the most commonly eaten dishes out so I looked further and found a recipe that sounded quite nice. Congolese Peanut Soup. At first I was going to serve it with the traditional bread staple Fu-Fu but decided to serve it with a nice dry-fried flat bread which Mimsey made. Recipe was sourced here: www.congocookbook.com
Recipe: Peanut Soup
- 2-3 cups chicken stock
- 3 tablespoons of oil
- 1 small onion, chopped finely
- 1 small green pepper/capsicum, chopped finely
- 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
- salt, black pepper & cayenne pepper, to taste
- 1 hot chilli, sliced thinly
- 1 carrot, chopped fine
- 1-2 tomatoes, chopped or 1 canned tomatoes
- ¼ to ½ cup peanut butter (depends on how peanutty you want your soup)
- Fry onion and garlic in oil on a medium heat for a few minutes until soft and fragrant, then add chilli cook for another few minutes.
- Add capsicum and carrot, cook with lid on for 5 minutes until carrot is soft.
- Add tomatoes, seasoning and stock and stir to combine, cook with lid off for 15 minutes.
- Stir in peanut butter, at this point my soup was quite thick so I added another cup of chicken stock and stirred to combine.
- Place ¾ of soup in blender and blend until smooth, add to the rest of the soup, stir and serve immediately in warmed bowls.
Recipe: Spiced Wholemeal Flat Bread Makes 8
- 1 cup plain flour
- 1 cup wholemeal flour
- 1 tsp salt + ½ tsp extra
- 1 tb ghee/butter
- ⅔ cup warm water
- 1 tsp cumin seeds, freshly crushed in mortar if possible, or ground
- 1 tsp chilli flakes
- 2 tb oil warmed up with 1 clove garlic, crushed
- Place flours and salt in a food processor or mixer with a dough hook attached, and process 10 seconds to mix.
- While processing, add butter/ghee and process 10 seconds to mix, then pour water in slowly and mix until forms a ball, about a minute.
- Let rest covered for 10-15 minutes.
- Divide into 8 portions, roll each portion out on a floured bench into a 20cm/8″ circle. Cover to keep from drying out.
- Lightly grease a large, heavy frypan, heat on medium, fry chapati on one side, brushing the top with the garlic oil and sprinkling with extra salt & the spices before flipping to cook other side.
- Gently pat chapati around with an oily paper towel to encourage it to puff up, press high bubbles down gently.
- Keep warm while making rest. Serve warm and fresh.
This is a classic chapati recipe based on one from food.com/recipe/chapati-east-african-bread
Chapatis made fresh, as they always were, are so delicious! Particularly loved the thick Millet Chapatis we ate smeared with honey in a village out in the Thar Desert. Namaste!
The soup was interesting it had a tomatoey, peanutty flavour and was really nice with the flat bread. It scored a 6/10 from the family.