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excerpts from The Official Peace Corps C.A.R. Cookbook

Peace Corps C.A.R.

Since 1961 the Peace Corps has been working in Africa to achieve its three goals: (1) To help the people of interested countries meet their needs for trained workers; (2) To help promote a better understanding of Americans in countries where Volunteers serve; and (3) To help promote a better understanding of people of other nations on the part of Americans. As part of its work, the Peace Corps sometimes publishes cookbooks to help American volunteers adapt to unfamiliar foods and cooking techniques.

These excerpts are from The Official Peace Corps C.A.R. Cookbook, published sometime in the 1980s (?) by the Peace Corps office in the Central African Republic. Typical of writings of English-speakers in French-speaking Africa, the cookbook includes many words from French and also Sango, the language of the Central African Republic. Text in [square brackets] is not in the original cookbook.


The Official Peace Corps C.A.R. Cookbook

African Specialties



  • 1 bunch of manioc leaves per 2 people
  • garlic
  • onions
  • piment peppers to taste
  • beef (optional)
  • oil
  • peanut butter

Separate leaves and stems. Wash leaves in cold water. Heat frying pan until very hot. Add leaves and turn them with hand, pressing down until leaves are fairly limp. (This process is often painful. For those less ngangu [strong or tough] types, have a dish of cool water on the side to dip your hands into before pressing down on the leaves each time.)

Remove leaves from heat and allow to cool slightly. When cool, pound leaves in mortar together with chopped garlic, onions, and piment peppers. Brown chunks of beef in peanut or palm oil. Add pounded greens and cook until limp. Just before serving, stir in sufficient brown peanut butter to make a tasty sauce. Serve over rice or with gozo [pounded cassava tuber].

Fast Food Ngunja

Buy ngunja sticks (kanda ti ngunja) from the marché [market]. Sauté onions in a little bit of oil. Mash up the ngunja sticks and toss in a pot with water, onions, garlic, piment, and peanut butter to taste.


Shred washed koko leaves into fine grass-like blades or buy already shredded from marché. If koko has been dried, soak in water for 24 hours before preparing. Allow 1 bunch per person. Brown chunks of beef in peanut oil along with chopped garlic, onions, and piment peppers [hot chile peppers]. Add peanut butter to make a thick sauce. Just before serving, stir in shredded koko leaves. Serve with boiled or fried plantains, rice, yams, or manioc boule [ball of pounded manioc tuber] or mangbéré [stick of gozo wrapped in a leaf].

Many other indigenous greens may be prepared with this peanut sauce.

African Vegetable Leaves and Yams

  • ngago leaves
  • 1 large onion
  • oil
  • 1 lb peeled yams (ignames)
  • 1/3 lb peanut butter (about 1 cup)

Cut onions into large pieces and sauté lightly. Wash and shred ngago leaves and add to pot. Cut yams into large chunks; rinse thoroughly. Add them to the pot with 8 cups water and a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil. Roll the peanut butter into teaspoon-sized balls, then pinch flat and add to the soup. Turn down the heat and allow to simmer lightly for at least 1/2 an hour.

Beef and Mushroom in Peanut Sauce

  • 1/4 cup palm oil (or vegetable oil)
  • 1 lb beef or other meat
  • 2 to 3 sliced tomatoes
  • 1/2 to 1 cup peanut butter
  • 1 cup mushrooms
  • I chopped onion
  • 2 or 3 mashed garlic cloves
  • ginger to taste
  • water
  • salt & piment to taste

Melt oil in pot, cook onions and garlic until limp. Add meat and brown. Add tomatoes and ginger. Cook over low heat for about an hour. Use hot sauce [from onion, meat, and tomato mixture] to dilute peanut butter. Add to meat and continue cooking for about 15 minutes.

Karakandji Sauce

Sauté 1 large onion and a head of garlic in oil. Add 1/2 kilo meat, cut into small pieces. Brown, then add 1 small can tomato paste. Cover with water, and cook until meat is done. Take about a handful of brown karakandji flowers that have been washed several times, and add to the sauce. Add 1/2 to 1 cup peanut butter that has been thinned down with water. Simmer for about 15 minutes. Serve over rice or with boule.

Kanda ti Nyama

Mix together:

  • ground beef
  • chopped onions
  • 1 or 2 eggs
  • piment pepper
  • garlic
  • 2 tbsp peanut of palm oil

and then form into balls. It may be necessary to tie them with strong blades of grass (kamba) so they don't fall apart during cooking.

Slice okra (gumbo -- véké) into rondelles. Brown chopped onions in oil. Add the meatballs and okra to this sauce and cook until meatballs are thoroughly cooked and okra is tender. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve with manioc boule.

West African Stew

  • 3 tbsp peanut oil
  • 1/2 to 1 kilo beef cubes
  • 4 medium sliced onions
  • 3/4 cup tomato paste
  • chopped piment peppers
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 6 cups water
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter

In heavy saucepan, heat oil. Add beef and brown along with nutmeg, salt and pepper. When meat is browned, add onions, garlic, tomato paste, water and piment. Simmer until meat is tender and add peanut butter. Serve on rice or manioc.

Add spinach, carrots, mushrooms, or okra for variety.


Skewered Goat

  • 1 kilo goat meat, cubed
  • 6 green peppers, quartered
  • 6 tomatoes, quartered
  • 6 large onions, quartered
  • 1 cup oil
  • 1/2 cup vinegar
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp piment

Alternate meat and vegetables on wooden or metal skewers. Brush with mixture of oil, vinegar, and seasonings. Grill over hot fire, turning often.

Groundnut Stew

  • 1 kilo stew meat, cubed
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 large tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 fresh piment
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup peanuts, pounded
  • 6 eggs, hard-boiled

Brown meat in heavy pot. Add 1 tsp salt, half the onions, tomatoes, piment and water. Cover and simmer 30 minutes. Mix peanut butter with a cupful of stew sauce and stir to a smooth paste. Ad to stew. Add rest of onions, tomatoes, and seasonings. Cover and simmer another 30 minutes, until meat is tender. Serve a whole egg with each bowlful of stew. Good with gozo!

Yassa Poulet

Senegalese Lemon Chicken

  • 1 frying chicken, cut up
  • 8 tbsp lemon juice
  • 8 tbsp vinegar
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 3 large onions, sliced
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1 fresh piment

Put chicken, chopped piment, salt, pepper, lemon juice, vinegar, and 2 tbsp oil in bowl and marinate for 30 minutes. Heat remaining oil in skillet and sauté chicken until brown. Remove and set aside. Sauté onion until yellow. Add marinade, chicken, and 1/2 cup water. Cover and cook until tender.

Ghanaian Ignames and Omelettes

Peel several large ignames [yams] and slice into 1-inch rounds. Boil in lightly salted water until tender, about 20 minutes. Meanwhile, sauté chopped onions and tomatoes in a little oil. Beat slightly several eggs (one per person). Add a pinch of salt, a pinch of flour and sautéed onions and tomatoes. Fry each omelette separately in a lightly oiled pan. Slide a slice of cooked igname into each cooked omelette. Fold over and slide onto serving plate.

Fish Pie

Tarte aux Poissons

  • 1/2 finely chopped onion
  • 2 finely chopped tomatoes
  • 2 cans mackerel or other fish
  • yams
  • salt and pepper
  • bread crumbs

Gently fry the onion and tomatoes with the canned fish for 5 minutes. Transfer to a greased pie or casserole dish. Peel the yams and cover the fish with paper-thin slices of them. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and cover with bread crumbs. Garnish with thin slices of tomato and bake until the yam is cooked.

Rats in the Mood

Deku Delight

Place a dozen smoked rats (the small field-rat type) in fresh water and soak for 30 minutes. Prepare a sauce of tomato, onion, piment and palm oil in a large skillet. Drain the rats and remove skin and other inedible portions. (?) Fry for about 20 minutes, turning occasionally until well-cooked. A true connoisseur eats them piping hot, bone and all!!!

Serving tips: Usually offered as an hors-d'ouvre, they also are delightful arranged on a platter of carrots, lettuce, and cauliflower. Or just slide them on a hot dog bun . . .

** This recipe comes from the Zaire cookbook "Where There is No McDonald's" . . .

Pan-Fried Grubs

. . .

Wash grubs. Sizzle them in very hot oil until grubs have turned golden. Add salt or piment to taste. Good as snacks or as an accent to vegetable dishes. . . .

Nigerian Bean Stew

  • 1 cup black-eyed peas (or white beans)
  • 1 large green pepper, chopped
  • water
  • oil
  • 1 kilo beef
  • chopped onion
  • salt and pepper

Soak the peas for about 6 hours. Rinse and mash them. Cube beef and brown in a little oil. Brown the pepper and onion in oil and combine with meat and mashed peas, adding cold water. Add salt and pepper to taste. Simmer in covered pot for 15 minutes. Add oil or butter and continue to simmer until well cooked. Serve with yams.

Gambo's Fulani Boullie

  • 1 cup white peanut butter
  • 2 to 3 cups boiled filtered water
  • 2 cups rice
  • 1 to 2 cups rice or millet flour
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup lemon juice

Knead peanut butter into the water until it reaches an even consistency. Add about 2 cups of rice (prewashed) and cook until tender. Add the flour, according to desired consistency, and then simmer. Add sugar to taste and Mbororo milk [milk of Mbororo cattle], if desired. Add lemon juice and serve hot.

Rice and Bean Croquettes

  • 1 cup beans
  • chopped onions
  • salt and pepper
  • oil
  • 1 cup uncooked rice
  • 2 chopped tomatoes
  • eggs

Wash and soak beans for several hours. Boil until tender. Boil rice until very soft then mash together with beans. Add onion, tomatoes, salt and pepper to taste. Turn onto a floured surface and form into cakes. Dip in beaten egg and fry in hot oil or fat. Serve hot, garnished with slices of hard-boiled egg and tomatoes.

Sweet Potato Babalo Croquettes

  • 1 cup hot mashed sweet potatoes
  • 1 tbsp margarine
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 beaten egg
  • crushed peanuts

Mix sweet potatoes, margarine, salt and egg. Moisten, if necessary, with a little milk. Shape into little patties and roll in flour or a mixture of beaten egg and finely crushed peanuts. Deep fry until golden.

Nutritious Yam Balls

  • 4 tbsp grated fish, meat or chicken
  • 4 slices of yam
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 egg, separated
  • 1 chopped onion

Cook and mash the yam through a sieve. Mix meat, yam, egg yolk, onion, salt and pepper, until it is a soft consistency. Shape into finger-sized rolls. Coat in egg white, and fry in hot oil. Serve hot or cold.

Scalloped Yam or Manioc

  • yams
  • chopped onion
  • milk
  • flour
  • margarine
  • salt and pepper

Grease a baking dish. Thinly slice uncooked yam. Place a layer of chopped onion in the bottom of the dish, followed by a layer of sliced yam, and another layer of chopped onion. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and flour, then dot with margarine. Continue layering until dish is filled. Moisten with milk. Cover and bake in medium onion for about an onion. Uncover and bake until the yam is cooked and browned on top.

Sengé   Peanut Sauce

Sauté 1 large onion and a head of garlic in oil. Add 1/2 kilo of meat or chicken cut into small pieces. Brown, then add 1 small can tomato paste, bay leaf, bouillon cube, a handful of dried shrimp or any dried fish, any vegetables you want, leaves, or anything else you feel like. Cover completely with water. Add salt and piment [hot pepper]. Cook covered until meat is tender. Then add the peanut butter. Best done by thinning peanut butter with water so that it blends easily when added to the pot. Taste it; add more water or peanut butter. Cook until oil from peanut butter floats on top, over a low flame. Cover over rice.

Palm Chop

Wash palm nuts in hot water. Put in cold water, then boil. Cook until tender. Don't drain. Pour into mortar, water and all. Beat to separate pulp from seeds, then heat pulp to a mush. Strain first to get strings out. Season to taste. Add chicken or beef and serve over rice.

The Rare Recipes pages contain African and African-inspired recipes from antique and out-of-print cookbooks.

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