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from: Central Africa | cooking method: boiling-simmering

Beef in Wild Mango Kernel Sauce

This recipe is called Boeuf aux Mangues Sauvages in French-speaking central Africa. That might make one think of a sauce made from mango fruit. Indeed, mango fruit is used in Eastern Africa (and especially India) to make various chutneys and pickles. This recipe makes use of the kernel, or the inner part of the seed, of the mangue sauvage or wild mango fruit. The African manguier sauvage or wild mango tree (Irvingia gabonensis or Irvingia wombolu) is a tree species similar, but unrelated, to the true mango, Mangifera indica. True mangos, which also grow in Africa, are evidently not used in this way. After the mango seeds are cracked open, the inner kernels are collected, cooked, crushed, and shaped into loaves which are called odika, dika, or etima. These are used as a flavoring and thickener in soups and stews. Freshly made odika can be used immediately or stored for future use. The wild mango tree grows throughout equatorial central Africa and western Africa, especially along the Gulf of Guinea. In Nigeria, the wild mango kernels are called ogbono or apon. Packaged ogbono or apon (whole or crushed) is available in import grocery stores outside of Africa. (See: Ogbono Soup.)

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Richard Francis Burton

the relish or sauce of which the Gaboon people are so fond

In the late 1850's Richard Francis Burton explored Zanzibar and the nearby Eastern Africa mainland. In this excerpt from Zanzibar; City, Island, and Coast (London: Tinsley Brothers, 18, Catherine St. Strand; 1872) he describes the mangoes in Zanzibar and notes that in Zanzibar the kernels are not pounded and used in a sauce as is done in "Gaboon" (Gabon). (The quotation from Ibn Batutah containing the reference to mango pickles is reproduced on the Plantains in Coconut Milk page.)

The Arabs spoil its [the mango's] taste by using steel knives : with the unripe fruit they make, however, excellent jams, and pickles* eaten in broths of fowl or meat. The pounded kernels are administered in dysenteries, but the relish or sauce of which the Gaboon people are so fond is unknown here [in Zanzibar] and even in India.
* The mango pickles of Makdishu are described by Ibn Batutah in A.D. 1331
(Chapter 5 Geographical and Physiological: Section 5: Notes on the Flora of Zanzibar)

Other African gastronomical excerpts

Mary Henrietta Kingsley

Odeaka cheese ... is made from the kernal of the wild mango

In 1897, after traveling along the Atlantic coast region of Central Africa, Mary Kingsley wrote about odika (odeaka) in Travels in West Africa (Everyman, J. M. Dent, London; Charles E. Tuttle, Vermont, 1993). This quotation is continued on the Liboké de Poisson recipe page.

. . . not forgetting that delicacy Odeaka cheese; this is not an exclusive inspiration of theirs [the Igalwa people], for the M'pongwe and the Benga use it as well.

It is made from the kernel of the wild mango, a singularly beautiful tree of great size and stately spread of foliage. In due season (August) it is covered -- not ostentatiously like the real mango, with great spikes of bloom, looking each like the head of a gigantic mignonette -- but with small yellow-green flowers tucked away under the leaves, filling the air with soft sweet perfume, and then falling on to the bare shaded ground beneath to make a deep-piled carpet. I do not know whether it is a mango tree at all, for I am no botanist: but anyhow the fruit is rather like that of the mango in external appearance, and in internal still more so, for it has a disproportionately large stone.

These stones are cracked, and the kernel taken out. The kernels are spread a short time in the shade to dry; then they are beaten up into a pulp with a wooden pestle, and the pulp put into a basket lined carefully with plantain leaves and placed in the sun, which melts it up into a stiff mass. The basket is then removed from the sun and stood aside to cool. When cool, the cheese can be turned out in shape, and can be kept a long time if it is wrapped round with leaves and a cloth, and hung up inside the house. Its appearance is that of almond rock, and it is cut easily with a knife; but at any period of its existence, if it is left in the sun it melts again rapidly into an oily mass.

The natives use [Odeaka cheese] as a seasoning in their cookery, stuffing fish and plantains with it and so on, using it also in the preparation of a sort of sea-pie they make with meat and fish . . .

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