All posts filed under “STEW

comment 0

REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Muamba Nsusu and Fufu (Chicken and Peanut soup + Yams)

REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Muamba Nsusu and Fufu (Chicken and Peanut soup + Yams)


Here’s what we learned about Congo in  our research this week:

  •  Gorillas!
  • Pygmies!
  • Lonely Planet ranked Republic of Congo #6 in it’s 2015 countries to visit!
  • Republic of Congo is also called Congo Republic and Congo Brazzaville.
  • Brazzaville is the capital of Republic of Congo and sits directly across the Congo River from Kinshasa, the capital of Democratic Republic of Congo (formerly Zaire).

This video is good for a sampling of what life is like in Brazzaville. You can even hear the singers talking about Fufu at one point!

Muamba Nsusu and Fufu (Chicken and Peanut soup + Yams)

soop_congo_nov14-22I’ll admit it.  Beckett chose this recipe because he thought Muamba Nsusu was fun to say.  Well, first he actually picked fufu and ran around the house for several minutes shouting FUFUFUFUFUFFUFUFUFUFUFUFUUUUUUU before I could settle him down to pick what ELSE we should make seeing as how fufu is actually a starchy side sort of akin to our mashed potatoes.  He was set on having something as fun to say as FUFUFUFUFUFFUFUFUFUFUFUFUUUUUUU and therefore picked NSUSUNSUSUNSUSUNSUSUNSUSUNSUSUUUUUUU!

As luck would have it, it Nsusu a good pick.  I described it to our friends’ boys who weren’t so sure about the stew as “peanut butter soup”.  That pretty much nailed it.  Very common all over Sub-Saharan Africa, peanuts (called groundnuts in Africa) are used very commonly in various stews combining chicken and tomatoes.  This version uses red palm oil, another staple of Sub-Saharan Africa, which some argue is the best type of fat (better than olive oil, coconut oil, and avocados) you can ingest due to its high level of Vitamins A and E.

While the soup Nsusu was a culinary success in our meal, the fufu was, well, let’s call it an acquired taste.  Fufu is Sub-Saharan Africa’s answer to our mashed potatoes.  It is made many different ways using many different starches, but in Western Africa it is usually made from yams, sometimes combined with plantains.  We chose to get half traditional and make it with yams and one plantain, but used the food processor instead of the more traditional way to make fufu (as seen in the video below).  I’m not including a recipe for fufu in this post simply because there seem to be a gigazillion different ways to make it, so I’m going to encourage you to get out there and blaze your own fufu path should you feel like running around the house yelling FUFUFUFUFUFFUFUFUFUFUFUFUUUUUUU!!!!

Ahem.  Now then.  Traditionally, our fun to say stew would be eaten with your hands – more specifically your right hand.  Eaters would take a bit of fufu and some stew and quickly slurp it all up by sticking fingers directly into mouths.  Had we gone this route, I’m sure the boys would have been thrilled, but we opted for spoons this time.

Would we make it again?  Sorry Congo, but the fufu was not a hit.  The soup on the other, hand, while much too heavy for me was a hit with the kids… even Dracula.




Muamba Nsusu
Serves 8


    • 1.5 pounds skinless/boneless chicken thighs
    • 2 tablespoons red palm oil, divided
    • 1 large onion, chopped
    • 1 large carrot, chopped
    • 2 jalapeños, minced
    • 1 cup natural peanut butter (peanuts and salt only- no other ingredients)
    • 1 can tomato paste (6 ounces)
    • 1 teaspoon cumin
    • 1 can chopped tomatoes (14.5 ounces)
    • zest of one small lemon
    • 6 cups chicken stock
    • 1/4 cup peanuts


  1. Generously salt and pepper chicken thighs.  In large heavy soup pot, add 1 tablespoon red palm oil, then cook chicken thighs over medium heat until chicken is no longer pink and the juices run clear. This should take 8 to 12 minutes. As the chicken cooks, turn it occasionally so it browns evenly. Once chicken has cooked and browned, remove it from pot and set aside to cool.soop_congo_nov14-14
  2. Add palm oil to pot and melt over medium-low heat. Sauteé onions, carrots and chilies (scraping up any browned bits from the chicken) until well caramelized.soop_congo_nov14-15soop_congo_nov14-16
  3.   Meanwhile, in a small bowl combine peanut butter, tomato paste and cumin with 1 cup of the chicken broth and stir to combine well.soop_congo_nov14-13
  4.  Add peanut/tomato mixture to the pot along with the tomatoes, lemon zest, cooking for a few moments until fragrant.  soop_congo_nov14-17
  5. Add  chicken stock and bring to a simmer. Shred or chop chicken thighs and return to the soup. Add peanuts.  Simmer until soup has thickened.
  6. Check for seasonings – adding salt, pepper, lemon, sugar, or cumin as needed.
  7. Serve with fufu

Cook’s Notes

Red Palm oil is available at Whole Foods and online.

Also, yams are kind of hard to peel – says Beckett.soop_congo_nov14-18


comment 0

HUNGARY: Sertéspörkölt (pork goulash)

HUNGARY: Sertéspörkölt  (pork goulash)


Here’s what we learned  in  our research/kitchen time this week:

  •  There are actually 3 Hungarian stews made from onions, meat and paprika: gulyás, pörkölt and paprikás.
  • The dish called pörkölt (pronounced PURR-colt) is what we Americans call “goulash” (thick meaty stew).  Gulyás is a soup and paprikás is similar to pörkölt, but only made with chicken.
  • When chopping onions, if you chew gum at the same time, you will not cry.
  • Speaking of onions, do not be scared off by the amount of onion in this recipe.  Rather than making the stew bracing, they actually caramelize down to bring a wonderful sweetness to the stew.
  • The Rubik’s cube was invented in Hungary (and none of us can solve it).
  • This dish matches the colors of the Hungarian flag: red, white, & green.

If you’re curious to hear how Hungarian sounds as sertéspörkölt is being made, here you go!  He makes his a little differently from how I make mine, but the recipe is fairly similar.


Calvin researched Hungarian soups for about 4 seconds before pointing at a photo of Pörkölt and saying, “that’s it!  Let’s make that!”  Okay kid.

It took me a few tries to get this recipe right – it was good the first night, but kind of a pain to make, so I retooled the recipe and made it again the next night.  Everyone agreed that not only was the stew better, but it was WAY easier and produced many fewer dishes!

Calvin was eager to help my chop all the onions required for this dish because I’d told him about a theory that chewing gum keeps you from crying while chopping onions.
The verdict: it works!

The big issue with this meal was my attempt to make a gluten-free version of traditional Hungarian nokedli which are basically spaetzle.  My first several attempts were actually laughably bad, but the last version (a modified version of THIS recipe) actually worked okaaaay, but I didn’t think it was good enough yet.  We all liked the pörkölt better with the pasta, but just to prove that I made my own nokedli (no matter how bland they were) here is photo proof!


Okay, so side aside, this is a TOTAL keeper recipe.  Even after eating it for dinner two nights in a row, everyone agreed that this should go into regular rotation.  Even my soup-reluctant husband said I should make it again.  This is the PERFECT fall/winter dish that will simply simmer all afternoon and make you feel all warm and cozy when you eat it.  Next time, completely divergent from traditional pörkölt, we will make a gremolata (chopped parsley, fresh garlic, and lemon zest) to bring a little zing to the finished product.  Oh, and the pepper relish from Comoros (poutou) was pretty stellar with this dish too.  Hungarian/Comoran fusion cooking…. coming soon to a kitchen near you!

Finally, though this would have been stellar with a red wine, the only Hungarian wine we could find this Irsai Oliverweekend was a fantastic white from the foot of the Mátra mountains.  This description from the importer nails it:

Originally crossed in 1930, the parents of this native grape are Gewürztraminer and Muscat Ottonel. Not surprisingly, it’s incredibly perfumed and floral. That said, its not fat and weighty on the palette like Gewürztraminer can often be and has there’s no detectable residual sugar either. The finish has a mineral, almost saline quality that balances out the Muscat heavy aromatics. And while the style is decidedly reductive, it opens up right away and jumps out of the glass even when chilled. While it can easily stand alone as an aperitif, it pairs beautifully when fruit and salt play off of each other. Prosciutto and melon is a classic, but we’ve also found that Indian food (especially chutneys) pairs extremely well.

You can get  wines from along the Danube from these guys including the Irsai Oliver we loved this weekend.


Sertéspörkölt (Hungarian Pork Stew)
Serves 8


  • 2 tablespoons bacon fat or lard
  • 2 large onions, diced
  • 2 pounds pork butt shoulder, trimmed of bones and fat and cut into 1 cubes
  • 2 medium banana peppers*, cut into 1/2″ dice
  • 1 large tomato*, chopped or one 14 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 3 teaspoons sweet Hungarian* paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon hot Hungarian paprika or 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon whole caraway seeds, ground
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • chopped parsley for garnish (optional)


  1. Heat large dutch oven or soup pot over medium low heat.  Add bacon fat or lard to pot and render.  Add onions and cook slowly, stirring frequently, until onions are beginning to caramelize and have changed from white, past opaque, to deep tan.  Go slowly so onions don’t burn – this is the most important part of the whole meal.  This step should take at least 30 minutes.
  2. Add garlic and pork, increase heat to medium and stir constantly until pork is cooked on all sides and beginning to release its juices.soop_hungary_oct14-7
  3. Add chopped pepper and tomato.  Combine well.  Add 6 cups water paprika, caraway and marjoram, stirring gently to combine.  Simmer, uncovered,  until most of the liquid has boiled down and sauce is a thick gravy (approximately 1.5 hours though you could go all day so long as you make sure there is enough water in the pot).soop_hungary_oct14-8
  4. Check pork for tenderness.  If it is not quite tender, add another cup of water and simmer longer until sauce is desired consistency.  Once pork is tender enough to be cut easily with a fork, add salt and season with pepper to taste and serve over a bed of pasta.soop_hungary_oct14-9

Cook’s Notes

* If you can’t find a banana pepper, yellow gypsy peppers or yellow, green or red bell peppers would work.  We used red pepper and chopped it small to hide it from our boys who think they don’t like peppers.

* Unless you are in the middle of tomato season, use canned tomatoes as they will have much more flavor that the flavorless winter tomatoes.  We used dry farmed tomatoes which are possibly the most delicious thing on the face of the planet.

* Hungarian paprika is very different from the standard paprika you can find at the grocery store.  It is not expensive and totally worth seeking out.  It comes in “sweet” and “hot”.  Here’s more about paprika.

Traditionally, this would be served with a spaetzle-like pasta called nokedli.  I tried 4 different times to perfect a gluten-free version of nokedli and finally gave up and served it over Jovial’s gluten free egg tagliatelle.


comment 0

COMOROS: Sweet Pea Soup & Le Me Tsolola: Goat + Plantain Stew

COMOROS: Le Me Tsolola: Goat + Plantain Stew

soop_Comoros_oct14-55Here’s what we learned about Comoros in  our research this week:

  • Comoros exists.
  • It is pronounced  KOHM-uh-rohs
  • It is a group of 3 (or 4 depending on who you ask) main islands in the channel between Mozambique and Madagascar.  The 4th island is Mayotte which voted to stay a part of France in 1975, but many Comorans still claim it as one of theirs.
  • It gained its independence from France in in 1975 and has had over 20 coups since then.
  • It is one of the poorest countries in the world where the average daily wage is just over $1.
  • Each island has it’s own cuisine.
  • There is very, very little to be found online about the food of Comoros, but what can be found suggests African, Arab, Indian, and French influences.
  • It is proper to say “bismillah” (thanks to Allah) before eating.
  • Though there is no legal drinking age in Comoros, alcohol is not considered proper according to Islam (the dominating religion), but it is served in most European restaurants.  (Note: If I ever go to Comoros, you’ll know where to find me.)

Here’s a fun video showing Comoros from a tourist’s perspective.  Check out that rain!



When we drew Comoros from the cup, I asked my Facebook community for a suggestion and my friend Joanne, a native South African now living in Australia, recommended Sweet Pea as a traditional Comoran soup (I hope I have represented it well Joanne!), but my research (what little of it there is to see) kept mentioning a stew called Le Me Tsolola (or Leme Tsolola).  As I’ve mentioned, James thinks of soup as an appetizer instead of a meal, so for Comoros, that’s exactly what he got… a soup appetizer and a stew meal.  SOOP-o-rama.

Our friends braved the bridge to join us, but not before I sent them on a wild goose chase for jackfruit on Clement street in San Francisco.  I had read that jackfruit was commonly eaten in Comoros and thought it would be fun for the kids to experience eating something that looks so, well, terrifying for dessert.  I had hunted all over the east bay – Oakland Chinatown, Koreana Plaza, Berkeley Bowl, 99 Ranch – without luck, so I sent our friends to scour San Francisco.  When their search left them empty-handed, we learned that jackfruit goes out of season in September.  Oh well.   To the right is what it would have looked like had we found it fresh (keep in mind that this is the size of a large watermelon covered with spikes.

Instead, our jackfruit looked like the below:soop_Comoros_oct14-53

Since it was a hot October (summer in San Francisco) night and we had TWO hot soups to eat, we cranked up the Nawal (the voice of Comoros) and hit the deck (not literally, of course).   I was quite nervous for this meal because not only was it utterly unlike anything I’d ever made before, but also our friends who joined us are outstanding cooks and I didn’t want to look like a fool in front of them.  I’d only found a couple of recipes on which to base my creation and I worried that it simply wouldn’t work.

I should not have worried.  This was FANTASTIC!  The pea soup had a nice refreshing gingery flavor and was a great foil to the coconut richness of the goat.   The only change I would make (noted in the recipe) is that the goat was a bit grisly, so next time (and there WILL) be a next time, I will grind the goat in my cuisinart to make it easier for everyone to eat.  Of course, this will be completely nontraditional, but it will taste very good.  soop_Comoros_oct14-58

Oh – do not make this without making the Poutou (chili relish) and do not fret when you make it that it is too spicy because the spice will mellow out considerably after a couple of days .  It really completes the flavors of the meal – the kick and the acid in the sauce take it over the edge into pure divine.  I can also happily report that the relish is fantastic on eggs, tossed in with quinoa and arugula as a fun side dish, and over pan-fried fish.  Say hello to your new little friend Poutou.

This was rich, flavorful, zesty, complex and just overall delightful.  I wasn’t sure about the cayenne pepper for the kids, but they all at it like crazy.  There may have even been some bowl licking….


…. which was a good thing because just as the sun went down, the lights went out and we cleaned up the kitchen in candle light.  The plates that were licked were a lot easier to clean.


I forgot to take any photos of the Coconut Punch (probably because of the Coconut Punch), so I can’t show you how pretty it was, but imagine a nice glass of eggnog that with a bright yellow rim and a stick of vanilla in it.  At first sip, our friends shouted out “Tropical Eggnog!”,  I may make this at Christmas this year instead of traditional eggnog.  It is quite thick and very sweet, so it was maybe not the best drink for a hot night, but regardless, nary a drop was left by the end or our 90 degree day.  8 thumbs up.

soop_Comoros_oct14-32Sweet Pea Soup
Serves 8 as a small appetizer


    • 4 tbsp olive oil
    • 1 small yellow onion, minced
    • 4 cloves garlic, minced
    • 1 pound frozen peas (thawed)
    • 1/2 pound tomatoes chopped
    • 3 teaspoons ginger, finely minced
    • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
    • 2 teaspoons salt
    • 1 can light coconut milk, 3 tablespoons reserved for garnish
    • 4 cups water
    • thinly sliced lime wheels for serving


  1. Remove peas from the freezer and place on a plate on the counter to thaw while you do your chopping.
  2. Meanwhile, over medium-low heat, heat olive oil in a large pot a 4 quart saucepan and add the onion and garlic. Gently cook for 5 minutes, stirring often, until onions have softened.soop_Comoros_oct14-33 soop_Comoros_oct14-38
  3. Add the rest of the ingredients (except the coconut milk) and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer.  Cover and simmer for 25 minutes.  soop_Comoros_oct14-39 soop_Comoros_oct14-40soop_Comoros_oct14-41
  4. Using an immersion blender (or a regular blender), blend soup until smooth.soop_Comoros_oct14-52
  5. Add the coconut milk,raise to a simmer just to warm coconut milk.  Do not allow it to boil.


    Calvin – today’s sous sous chef.

  6. Serve by drizzling reserved coconut milk over the top in a spiral pattern and adding a lime wheel. (Or you can use a small medicine syringe to make intricate patterns and decorate with basil leaves and flowers torn from the garden.)soop_Comoros_oct14-57

Le Me Tsolola: Goat & Banana Stew
Serves 4


    • 2 teaspoons canola oil
    • 1 1/2 lb goat stew meat, cut into 1″ pieces (next time I would grind it in a food processor as it was fairly grisly)
    • Salt
    • Cayenne pepper
    • 2 onions, finely chopped
    • 4 tomatoes, chopped
    • 2 medium green plantains, peeled cut into 1″ pieces
    • 1 can coconut milk + 1 can full of water
    • salt, black pepper and cayenne pepper to taste
    • 1 lime, cut into wedges for serving


  1. Season goat with salt and cayenne pepper to taste.  Heat pan to medium high and fry the goat in a little oil until well browned on all sides.  Remove from the pan and set aside.soop_Comoros_oct14-46 soop_Comoros_oct14-43
  2. Add the plantains, onions and tomatoes to pan and stir until softened.soop_Comoros_oct14-48
  3. Return meat to pot. Pour-in the coconut milk and bring to a simmer.soop_Comoros_oct14-49soop_Comoros_oct14-50
  4. Cover and allow to simmer for an hour (add a little water or more coconut milk if it becomes too dry).soop_Comoros_oct14-51
  5. Season to taste with additional salt or cayenne pepper.
  6. Serve immediately on a bed of white rice with pepper sauce (recipe below) and lime wedges on the side.


Poutou (Comoran Pepper Relish)
Makes approximately 3 cups
Recipe adapted from The World Cookbook: The Greatest Recipes from Around the Globe, Revised Edition
By Michael Ashkenazi
    (Dear Santa, this book, a vitamix blender and world peace is all I want this year!)soop_Comoros_oct14-30


    • 1 small fresh red chili (habañero is traditional – I used a red jalapeño), roughly chopped
    • 3 medium tomatoes, quartered
    • 1 organic* lemon, quartered
    • 1 medium yellow onion, quartered
    • 2 large cloves garlic, peeled, halved
    • 2 tablespoons salt


  1. Place all ingredients (including the peel and pith of the lemon) in a blender or food processor and blend until ingredients form a chunky salsa.
  2. Refrigerate at least 24 hours to allow flavors to blend.  Fear not, the spice will mellow out considerably after a few days.

*An organic lemon is important becaue you will put the peel into the relish.  Standard lemons are often coated with wax and pesticides.soop_Comoros_oct14-31


Comoran Coconut Punch (Punch Coco)…. Tropical Eggnog
Serves 4 
(Again, alcohol is not allowed according the the laws of Islam, so this would most likely be served sans alcohol in Comoros.  Feel free to use the rum or not according to your own desires. Also – apologies… I completely forgot to take any photos of this, but it was very pretty and very delicious)


    • 2 cans light coconut milk
    • 1 small can (5.8 oz) condensed milk
    • juice and grated zest of 2 large limes, rinds saved
    • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon powder
    • 1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
    • 3 tablespoons honey
    • 1 pod vanilla, seeds scraped out and reserved, then split lengthwise into four long sticks
    • 1 package Trader Joes dried jackfruit, ground to a powder in a spice grinder or food processor, divided (2 Tablespoons goes in the punch, the rest goes on the rim)
    • 4 ounces dark rum, optional


  1. Place all ingredients (including the vanilla seeds, but excluding the vanilla sticks)  except the rum in a blender.  Blend well until smooth.
  2. Meanwhile, run emptied lime rinds along rim of 4 glasses to wet rim and dip rim in Jackfruit powder
  3. Pour punch into glasses. Top with a float of 1 oz rum (or more if you’d like)  in each cup (if using) and garnish with vanilla sticks and a sprinkling of cinnamon