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A Congolese Feast

Madeso beans, rice and scallions, boiled green bananas, stewed goat, fried plantains, sombusas and orange-ginger drink.

As Constance Kabaziga and her daughter and friend, from Congo and Rwanda, taught Lindsay Sterling in Freeport, ME, Sept 2010

Feeds 20

Cooking time: 4 ½ hours (with 3 cooks!)

Note: If Constance and her daughter and friend taught me anything, it’s that I’d never cooked as they did: with family and friends. The cooking time here was with three experts working fluidly. I’m hoping to invite a couple friends over one Saturday to make this feast. On a regular weeknight when I’m solo, I’ll pick and choose for dinner: the goat and rice, or cassava leaves and rice, or beans and rice.

Where to Get Ingredients

In Portland, ME, we shopped at Mittapeap market for most ingredients and we got the goat a block down the street at a place called Hamdi. (both on Washington Ave. near Cumberland Ave). For readers not in Portland, please seek out an African market near you. And before you say you don’t have one, look and ask. I’m in Maine for crying out loud, and surprisingly I just discovered not 1, but 4. If you really are in the boonies, don’t despair. Make the beans and rice with boiled green bananas, and the ginger-orange drink: you can find all the ingredients at the supermarket.

Cassava Leaves

Stewy, creamy and profound.

1 lb frozen ground cassava leaves

1 head garlic, papers taken off

1 large eggplant

2 bunches scallions, sliced into thin rounds

½ lb goat meat, cut into bite sized chunks

10 oz. palm oil

1 cup raw peanuts

Fill a large lidded pot halfway with water. Add frozen shredded cassava leaves with all the garlic, and heat on medium high. When the pot looks like bright green pond scum, add chunks of peeled eggplant, scallions, and goat meat. Cook for a while, stirring every so often, lid on, until the color turns pea soup-y, about an hour. Add the palm oil, stir and cover for about another half hour. Blend raw peanuts in the blender, adding a little water if necessary to engage the blades, and add the peanut paste to the pot. Cover and cook, stirring every once in a while. It’s done when it’s as viscous as regular yogurt. Serve spooned on top of rice.

Rice with Scallions

A mild, fragrant companion to these other rich and intense foods.

½ bunch scallions

5 cups rice

olive oil


hot water

Soak, massage, and strain rice three times so the powdery milk in the water goes away.

Cover bottom of pot with olive oil, and saute rice, stirring, for about 5 minutes so toasting rice fragrance reaches your nose, but no browning happens, add hot water to cover the rice by half an inch, add about 1 Tbsp salt. Cover top of pot with plastic wrap, and then cover with lid, heat on low.

Stewed Goat

Chewy, rich, encouraging hand-held bone gnawing.

1 Green pepper, thin slices

2 Onions, thin slices

1-2 c. Vegetable oil

6 pounds bone-in goat chunks

Cover goat in bowl of water, massage, pour water off and rinse again. Fill a large lidded pot with water. Add goat pieces, and boil until meat pulls cleanly off of bone. Take goat pieces out, reserving broth. Cover the bottom of a large deep skillet generously with oil (vegetable or peanut). Sear goat pieces in batches so most sides are deep brown. While you’re doing this, ladle goat broth every so often on the meat (prepare for splattering!) to keep it moist. Once goat is done, put in a large lidded pot. Fry the onions and peppers in the remaining oil. Once they’re soft, add enough goat broth to fill the pan, scraping the bottom, incorporating all the flavor in the pan. Pour this sauce over goat in pot. Cover and simmer until ready to eat.

Boiled Green Bananas

Firm and hearty, like potatoes in stew

2 bunches green bananas

1 Green pepper

1 Onion

Tomato paste

4 bay leaves

Cover bunches of bananas in water in sink. Get large bowl filled with water nearby. With paring knife, peel the skins off the bananas, and scrape the sides of the white flesh. Put cleaned fruit in bowl of water to prevent browning. Cover the bottom of a large lidded pot with oil. Saute peppers and onions until soft. Add a can of tomato paste, and mix together, letting cook until the oil in the pan has assumed the tomatoes’ bright orange color. While that’s happening, slice each banana in half lengthwise, then crosswise, and add it to the pot. Once you have all the bananas in there, add enough water to make pleasing broth surrounding most of the bananas, but not so much that this becomes soup. Simmer with lid on until bananas are soft.

Ginger Orange Energy Drink

Cleanses and burns in a reviving way.

4 quarts of orange juice

5 large stalks of ginger

Sweetener, optional

Pineapple, optional

Peel and cut ginger into chunks and cover in a large mixing bowl with water. Toss together and strain. Blend ginger in blender adding water if necessary to make ginger puree. Squeeze masses of ginger purree over a fine mesh strainer over a bowl so you will have a bowl of fiber-free ginger juice. Put ginger fiber back in mixing bowl. Pour orange juice into the bowl. Massage ginger with orange juice. Strain ginger-orange juice just like you did the ginger the first time. Drink straight as a refreshing and healthy energy drink. Add sweetener or fresh pineapple juice if you wish.

Madeso Beans

Creamy, rich, stick to your ribs filling

1 pound bag red beans (any kind will work)

1/2 small red onion, sliced thinly

1/4 green pepper, sliced thinly

1/2 cup olive oil

1 Tbsp tomato paste

1/3 nutmeg nut

3 bay leaves

1 tsp garlic salt

The night before: look beans over for stones in a sheet pan. Soak beans for 8 hours or over night in water. Simmer covered in water until soft, about 40 min. Strain and cool in a medium saute pan. In another medium saute pan, fry onions in ¼ c. oil on medium high heat. When onions are translucent, add green pepper. After another minute, add tomato paste, stir and watch the oil turn red. Add enough water to make a sauce out of the thick stuff in the pan. Cook for about five minutes. Rub a nutmeg nut vigorously back and forth on a fine metal grater over the saucepan for 20 seconds. Add 1 tsp garlic salt. Add some more water so the sauce is not watery, but not thick either. When the vegetables have pretty much disappeared, pour it into the beans. Cook beans with sauce covered for about 15-minutes on medium low heat stirring every once in a while with bay leaves.

Serve with rice and hot sauce. Hers was this really hot Akabanga oil from Rwanda. 5 drops on my whole plate burned beautifully.

Beef Sambusas

4 lb ground beef

1 bunch scallions, sliced into chunks

3 tomatoes

1 can tomato paste

Maggi cube (beef bullion cube)

1 green peppers, diced

1 yellow onion, diced

3 Tbsp pepper

2 tsp Adobo seasoning (salt, tumeric, oregano)

2 packages large white flour tortillas

¼ cup white flour



Saute meat in a big pot. While it’s cooking, soak 4 tomatoes in a bowl of hot water. Cut in half, and scoop out seeds and liquid. (She says they become bitter when they cook). Cut tomato flesh into large bite size chunks and add to meat. Add crushed bullion cube, diced green pepper, onion, and tomato paste and cook until veggies are soft. Add a generous sprinkling of Adobo seasoning (2 tsp maybe) and about 3 times more black pepper than seems sane (about 3 Tbps). And salt to taste. Turn off heat and set aside.

Cut tortillas into quarters and make a stack of them. Mix flour with enough water in a small bowl to make a paste that will serve as the glue that holds the your tortilla stuffed with ground beef sealed shut. You’re going to take one piece of tortilla, make a cone shape, fill this with 1-2 tsp ground beef, and seal it closed, making a triangular packet. Repeat this about 40 times. Then deep fry the packets so they’re golden brown. Cool on platter lined with paper towel. See photos of making the packets here.

Fried Plantains

Like bites of sweet, hot pudding

8 yellow, firm plantains with a few black spots

1 inch of frying oil in a large skillet

Peel skins off plantains and slice crosswise and diagonally to make ovals about a half-inch thick with slanted sides. In the same oil you used to fry the sambusas, fry the plantains. Tongs are really handy here for placing pieces in the oil, turning them over and pulling them out when the outsides have turned a little brown and the general yellow color throughout has deepened to gold. Let cool on platter covered with paper towels.

I’d love to hear from you! Please email me with suggestions, confusions, stories, anything really about these recipes! lindsay@lindsaysterling.com

Copyright Lindsay Sterling 2010