Cameroon: Ndole 🇨🇲

Every so often, I come across a dish I dread.

It usually involves a leafy green.

I’ve had one-too-many incidents of stomach trouble after eating cooked spinach. My esophagus cringes when I smell broccoli. I straight up laugh at most kale, unless it’s fried.

Leafy greens just ain’t for me. But, still, I try – which is why I went to Mama Pauline’s African Market and picked up some frozen ndole.

The leaves sat in my freezer for months, before I had the courage to move forward. They sat in my fridge, defrosting, and I dreaded them. They looked so… spinachy.

Not helping things: the recipe I found for Cameroon’s national dish called for soaking the leaves in baking soda and water for a day.

My stomach turned again. I soaked them for two.

But I also bought the ingredients I needed, and I couldn’t let them go to waste. I drove to Beaverton to get crawfish. I bought a half-pound of shrimp. I even found Maggi, the ubiquitous flavoring sauce from much of the not-American world.

I didn’t get sick. And, in fact, I didn’t hate ndole. The meal was incredibly rich, and I couldn’t eat too much without worrying about what was going to happen to my digestion – but nothing did. The leaves had a unique, not-spinachy taste, and the seafood was tasty and hearty without being overpowering.

Recipe sourced from African Bites.

Ndole

 

  • 1 cup shelled and peeled peanuts
  • 1 can seafood stock
  • 1/2 # shrimp
  • 3/4 # crawfish
  • 1/2 # chicken (or beef)
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1 large onion, chopped, divided
  • 2 Tb Maggi
  • 1 # ndole leaves
  1. Place ndole in a bowl with water, rub leaves together, rinse. Soak overnight with a ts baking soda.
  2. Fry half the onions until translucent, then add the meat.
  3. Boil the peanuts with seafood stock and 1 Tb Maggi for about 10 minutes. Cool.
  4. Drain the peanuts, reserving the stock. Put the peanuts in a food processor and pulse to a paste, adding stock to get the right consistency.
  5. Blend half the onion and 3 cloves garlic into a fine paste and add to the mixture of peanuts and meat.
  6. Pour in the crawfish and let it simmer for 10 minutes stirring frequently to prevent burns. Season with salt and Maggi.
  7. Add the ndole leaves, and simmer for 10 more minutes.
  8. Meanwhile, heat oil in a pan, add 1 clove crushed garlic, then add shrimp, stirring constantly until pink.
  9. Serve ndole on a plate with boiled plantains or cassava fufu, and put shrimp on top.

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