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from: Central Africa | cooking method: pan frying

Tomato Sauce

In Central Africa, most every small shop, in the city or the village, sells canned tomato paste. This African Tomato Sauce is served with grilled fish, meat, or chicken, and with boiled Rice, Plantains, Baton de Manioc, and Yams.

student in angola

What you need

What you do

A few okra or a small eggplant (aubergine) could also be included in this sauce. Minced garlic might also be added.


Laurens van der Post

a pagan and unrepentantly savage tomato

Generally it is believed that foods that are native to the Americas -- such as chile peppers, corn (maize), peanuts, and tomatoes -- were introduced to Africa by Europeans soon after Columbus sailed to the New World. Another theory holds that Africans sailed and established trade ties between Africa and the New World in ancient and medieval times. Evidence for the second theory includes mentions of these foods in Africa before Columbus. However, it is also possible that there are foods similar to the American species but native to Africa; these may have since been supplanted by their New World counterparts. One example of this is the African Bambara Groundnut which has mostly been abandoned for the New World Peanut. (see: Peanut Soup). In his book First Catch Your Eland (New York: William Morrow and Company, 1978) Laurens Van der Post describes a sort of African tomato.

If the Portuguese and other imperialists who followed them had taken the same interest in what primitive man [in Africa] gleaned from the land as they did in minerals, and had set about developing the indigenous cereals, pulses, and fruits, Africa would have made a substantial and startlingly original contribution to the world's food.

. . . on the Mozambique side of the Shire highlands, near the frontier with Malawi. There I found Africans harvesting from the bush, in mountain clefts and gorges, what I can only describe as a kind of tree tomato, It is shaped like an unwrinkled passion fruit. It is the same colour as passion fruit, but the skin is thicker. Yet the seeded orange-fruit inside tasted more like a tomato than anything else. It was, I would say, a pagan and unrepentantly savage tomato, fierce and vivid in its flavour; and my imagination was instantly excited by what could be done to ardent a vegetable with selective cultivation and judicious intergrafting. It might even rescue the tomato from the tame, woolly substance of faintly scented water flavoured with sawdust, which it is so often today. I say with some certainty because several of these tree tomatoes, scooped out into the enamel plate of bully beef [canned corned beef] I had for lunch that day, made even so hackneyed a dish quite memorable. Yet the official who was with me could not even give me its local, let alone botanical name. (The Portuguese World in Africa)


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