Thursday, November 10, 2005

Recipe of the Week: Fufu mais (corn cous-cous) et choux (cabbage)

Fufu is the absolute staple food here – bland and therefore very compatible, quick to make, a little messy to eat, and filling. You will find fufu tasting pretty much the same from modest village kitchens to fancy metropolitan restaurants, though prep methods differ vastly. Chez Thérese, the process is day-long and laborious: corn grinding, flour sifting, and multiple stages of boiling. Chez Habiba, the process is quite simple and takes place nearly every night; we ate fufu mais with okra or other leaf (and meat) sauces nearly every night duing Ramadan, as a filling second dinner. The final product is smooth and dough-like, a little dry but slightly sticky still…diners scoop bit-size pieces of fufu from their fufu rolls between right hand thumb and fingers, then dip in sauce and consume. Here is Habiba's method:

1. sift corn flour, i'm guessing about 1 cup per person
2. gently boil corn flour while adding water, stirring constantly, to mushy but smooth (well-mixed) consistency
3. stop adding water, but keep on heat, while stirring becomes more vigorous…this will become difficult, but keep mixing the fufu until sticky (like cookie dough)
4. scoop out a large fist-size serving, and plop into flexible plastic bowl with wet interior (dip bowl in water immediately before putting fufu, to stop dough from sticking to sides)
5. with bowl cradled in both hands, shake the fufu around so the dough rolls along the edges of the bowl, and becomes a smooth roll
6. dump rolled fufu « boule » into container, cover, and repeat steps 4 through 6 for rest of fufu. one boule per person is usually enough. boules can be stored together; they will not stick too much.

Chou is the thickest of many sauces I have seen eaten with fufu. I prefer this to the liquid okra and other green leaf sauces, because it is solid and less messy. You can also get more chou than sauce in your hand with each scoop of fufu, which makes each bite more interesting in flavor. This dish was given to me in Sabga – delicious, and vegetarian! Two large green cabbages makes enough for about 10 people, I'm guessing again…

1. remove cabbage outer (dirty) leaves, then mince inside cabbage
2. boil in water til soft, then remove, drain, and rinse
3. in the bottom of a large round pot, sauté tomatoes, onions, garlic, and 1 or 2 Maggi vegetable stock cubes in about 2 or 3 cups of oil
4. dump in cooked cabbage, no added water, and stir. add salt to taste. should be delicious.

Serve one boule and scoop or two of cabbage to each diner. Most Cameroonians take about one scoop of cabbage to one boule, and are satisfied; I take three or four scoops of cabbage to half a boule, and I am full.


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