The secret of Angolan cauliflower or They are not leaves like leaves
* This time I supplemented my story with an excellent recipe :-) You will find it at the end of the article :-)
Last night, my husband and I were sitting in front of the TV watching a movie that we were both looking forward to. While watching the action scenes of the film in silence, the advertising that distracted us sparked a heated debate.
I don't know if the ad was of Portuguese, Brazilian or Angolan origin. The main heroine of the spot was a white woman who demonstrated the production of a delicious smootie from cauliflower leaves. She commented on the whole production process with notes about how healthy this drink is, what benefits the cauliflower leaf has and how much the benefit of consuming a drink has on your health and fitness.
I had to laugh and it made my husband laugh too. It seemed funny to us to learn the truth that was several hundred years old. It brought us, but for further discussion.
For guinea pigs? No, for the husband
Already when we lived together in Prague, I sometimes went to vegetables and looked for the mentioned cauliflower leaves, which I cooked with other ingredients as a side dish according to my husband's recipe (which you will find below).
Sometimes I was successful and the staff showed me a box where I could choose and take away as many sheets as I wanted. Once the saleswoman looked at me in astonishment and thoughtfulness, and after a while she added with a smile, "You have that for guinea pigs, don't you?" But she was even more astonished when I said, "No, for my husband." She probably thought of something in the sense of poor husband ... :-)
Impatience will not bring cauliflower
While we in the Czech Republic are waiting for the cauliflower to grow and the fleshy flower we love so much will be large enough, the Angolans do not wait and cut the leaves before the cauliflower can bloom. It took me a while to find out that their "couve" are actually cauliflower leaves, which you can buy here in our familiar form only in the supermarket and from imports, who knows where.
We started debating how we use vegetables and how the Angolans used it. We discussed individual species, such as beans, for which we use either pods or beans in Europe. While in Angola they do not know the pods, but again they cook bean leaves (jimboa). There are dozens of bean species here and it is one of the main and necessary side dishes. The leaves of sweet potatoes (rama de batata) are used to cook sauces or to prepare salads, while we only cook tubers. I don't consider potatoes - whether sweet or classic - to be a full-fledged side dish. That's why you will always find rice on the plate in addition to potatoes.
They don't know kohlrabi or radish here. Likewise, celery is a vegetable that has no chance to grow. Their favorite "salsinha", which is part of many dishes, is our celery, which we also use with the bulb in the ground, unlike the Angolans, who again use only the aboveground parts.
Delicacy or poison?
We discussed this for a few tens of minutes before I thought about how they actually found out that they could consume sweet potato leaves, which is very tasty unlike normal potato leaves, which are poisonous and life-threatening to eat.
My husband started telling me what his mother told him, her grandmother told her and her grandmother's grandmother ... You know, they are the wisdom that is passed down from generation to generation. Each community always had designated so-called tasters, who always tasted the food they found first. And sometimes it worked and sometimes the end was tragic. As in Africa, it was probably the same before. I never thought about how we actually know what we can and can't eat. In any case, what we indulge in today without any risk has been redeemed by many lives around the world.
Jindungu or Jinguba (peanut)?
Lots of food here was completely unknown to me and I didn't know what to do with it. Sometimes it was difficult to pronounce the name, let alone process it. Slowly, under the guidance of my husband and peeking out of our housekeeper, I gradually dealt with Angolan cuisine. I learned to cook from cassava leaves (kisaka), beans and potatoes, I use peanut butter (muamba) for thickening, from which I also often make my favorite "Nugget. Instead of pepper, I use dried papaya seeds and dried fish is no longer a problem. Angolans love chili and beans, their food is very varied and their dining is very rich, they never cook just for the people they are at home, they always cook something extra, they never bring you a serving on a plate. Everyone can load as much as they want.The lined bowls have no tradition here and you won't be thrilled by the visit.Although Angola has one of the best robust in the world, drinking coffee is not a habit, unlike beer, which is very popular here.
Supermarket or market?
In the first months, I went shopping at the supermarket because it was more convenient due to the language barrier and ignorance of the local cuisine. But it didn't take long and I set out for the local market full of determination. Wooden counters, where one woman stood right next to each other and with goods stacked in neat piles.
Right from the first purchase of tomatoes, I understood that I had to I know if I want red tomatoes for cooking, or a mix with green tomatoes - unripe, for salad. I found out that I wouldn't buy anything per kilo, that the only measure of weight is monte (mountain) or balde (bucket). I admired the beautiful eggplants and peppers. At the next counter, next door I had the opportunity to buy fresh meat, here I saw a great advantage for myself, because with every pile of meat, the head of a poor animal was always exposed. So I was sure I knew if I was buying beef or pork.
In the next alley I could admire an incredible number of fish, both fresh and dried. Unfortunately, at that time, I only knew Bacalhau (cod) safely. Another part of the market were tables, around which were bags of flour, the unit of measure of which was a can of palm oil. Among the many vegetables, I chose the mentioned leaves of everything. Fortunately, the local women are very nice and friendly and they were happy to tell me how to deal with the leaves.
I liked to walk among the fruit counters. In the season when the mango ripens, it is a feast for the eyes. Manga of different sizes and colors attracted me. Today I have my favorites and I know that buying a good mango is not just that. : D So if you want to enjoy and do not want to spend time pulling mango fibers from your teeth. Baobab also amazed me, its wide use and interesting taste forced me to make jam, juice, but also powder, which I use to replace flour when I bake cakes.
The market we have in our Sequele housing estate is huge and offers not only fruit, vegetables and meat, but also all other foods, such as milk, sausages, cheese or yoghurt. It is not a problem to buy toothpaste, a bag of cement and artificial hair here. You can also use the services of a seamstress, manicurist or hairdresser, who have their temporary salons under the trees around the market. What is most interesting, however, is the fact that all the goods stay on the shelves of sellers all night. No one would dare steal even one potato.
And now promised
Recipe for side dish from cauliflower leaves
You need onions, tomatoes, garlic, cauliflower leaves and peanut butter.
stew the sliced onion with sliced tomatoes and garlic on hot oil,
add finely chopped cauliflower leaves, add salt and pepper and pour water,
we cook for 30 to 40 minutes,
add peanut butter, which we stir in lukewarm water beforehand,
cook for another 10 minutes and stir occasionally.
Peanut butter thickens the sauce beautifully and adds a specific taste. This side dish is served with pasta, potatoes, rice or typical African fufa. Suitable for all types of meat, including fish.