from: Central Africa | cooking method: boiling-simmering
Mbika with Meat
In Western and Central Africa the seeds of various species of Cucurbitaceae (which includes gourds, melons, pumpkins, and squashes) are ground into a flour and used to thicken soups and stews, thus adding protein and flavor (especially important when meat is scarce -- this recipe can also be made with little or no meat by increasing the amounts of the other ingredients). In Western Africa these plants, seeds, soups, and stews are all called Egusi, and this is the name most commonly used outside of Africa. In Central Africa's Congo River region, the word Mbika is used. In this recipe, mbika and meat are cooked in a banana-leaf packet. Chicken or fish can also be cooked this way.
What you need
- oil (palm oil is most authentic) and/or water
- one to two pounds stew meat (or any meat), ground or cut into very small pieces (optional)
- two or three chile peppers, chopped
- one or two onions, chopped
- two to four cups mbika, egusi, pumpkin seeds, or pepitas (shells or hulls removed)
- Maggi® cube or Maggi® sauce
- salt, pepper (to taste)
- banana leaves or aluminum foil
What you do
- Roast and shell the egusi or mbika seeds (or their substitute) if they are not already roasted and shelled. Crush or grind them into a flour.
- Fry the meat, onion, and chile pepper in an oiled skillet, until the meat is well browned.
- In a large bowl combine all other ingredients, stirring until they are throughly mixed.
- Add a little oil to the mixture (if desired). Add water as necessary until a thick paste is obtained. Add cooked meat, onion, and chile pepper. Mix well.
- Make serving-sized packets by wrapping the mixture in banana leaves or aluminum foil. (Hint: if using banana leaves, warm them for a minute in a hot oven or over the grill to make them more flexible. Remove the center ribs of each leaf by cutting across it with a knife and pulling it off. Cut the ends off each leaf to form a large rectangle.) Cook in a hot oven or on an outdoor grill for thirty minutes (or more), until hot all the way through and meat is done -- or -- steam on a rack in a large covered pot of boiling water.
- Serve with Baton de Manioc (also called Chikwangue), or Fufu, or Rice. May be served hot or cold.
Look for egusi in African or International grocery stores. Pumpkin seeds can be substituted, as can pepitas which are available in Latin American grocery stores. Sesame seeds might also be used with some success. Frozen banana leaves may be found in Asian and Latin American stores. Banana leaves should be briefly heated before being used to wrap the mbika-meat mixture.
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