from: Central Africa | cooking method: boiling-simmering
Gnetum africanum is a popular variety of greens (edible vegetable leaves) found throughout tropical Africa -- literally "found" because it grows wild in the forest and is usually not cultivated. It is a natural "forest product" that is gathered by rural people and sold in markets in cities big and small. It is even available in some African grocery stores in Europe. In English, Gnetum africanum is usually called "wild spinach" (though other plants are also called the same).
In the Kikongo language of the Congo region Gnetum africanum is called Mfumbwa or Fumbwa (in Angola, M'Fumbua or Fumbua). It is used to make Pondu na Fumbwa, which is also called Saka-Saka, or this recipe,
another of many African greens and peanut dishes: Fumbwa elambani na Mafuta ya Nguba -- Fumbwa with palm oil and peanut.
What you need
- one to two pounds (or more) of mfumbwa (fumbwa), or substitute any other greens: cassava leaves, collards, kale, turnip greens or similar; or spinach; cleaned, stems removed; and shredded, finely cut, or pounded in a mortar with a pestle
- one cup peanuts (or peanut butter)
- one or two ripe tomatoes, peeled and chopped (or canned tomato paste, or canned tomato)
- one leek (or one onion), finely chopped
- one piece of dried, salted, or smoked fish (the size of your hand), bones and skin removed, cleaned, soaked in water, and rinsed
- one cup red palm oil
What you do
- Place the greens in a large pot. Add enough water to partially cover. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, (do not cover), and simmer until greens begin to become tender. (Cooking time varies considerably depending on type of greens used.) Add water if pot becomes dry.
- Grind, chop, or pound peanuts into a fine paste. (Or you can start with natural, sugar-free peanut butter.)
- When greens are mostly tender and liquid is reduced, add tomatoes (or tomato paste), leek (or onion), and dried fish. Continue to simmer, on low heat, stirring occasionally. Simmer until everything is tender and ready to eat.
- Remove a cup of the pot liquid and combine it with the peanut paste in a bowl. Stir to obtain a smooth sauce. Stir the peanut sauce into the greens, and reduce heat to as low as possible. Top with red palm oil and simmer for a few more minutes.
- Serve with boiled Yams or sweet potatoes and/or Chikwangue or Rice.
The red palm oil, added like a pat of butter or a drizzle of olive oil in a European dish, gives the greens a distinctive flavor and color. Homemade red palm oil and palm butter, made from the fruit of the African oil palm (Elaesis guineensis) are features of tropical African cooking. See Poulet Moambé / Poulet Nyembwe.
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