Still leery from the unappealing Burundi meal, I reluctantly made another African meal, this time a Cameroonian one, on Thursday, July 15 for Andy and my parents. In researching what to make, I was disappointed to find that wikipedia is in the process of taking down their list of national dishes because it does "not meet the relevant criteria for content of the encyclopedia." I will have to find another list. Anyway, there are two dishes that are named as national dishes: ndolé and kondre. As ndolé is meat and bitter greens in a peanut sauce, and I detested the similar Burundi meal, I opted to make kondre, which is a beef and plantain stew. The result was a thick, hearty, sweet, peppery and hot stew. We enjoyed it, especially after adding some salt.
The recipe I followed was not specific on how to deal with the plantains. Having never cooked with them before, I learned a couple of things by trial and error. First of all, to peel them, cut off both ends, and make two vertical slits through the peel on opposite sides of the plantain. Then, cut the plantain in half. This makes getting the reedy peel off much easier. Also, the recipe did not say to cut up the plantains, so, dutifully, I did not. However, I believe that the plantains were meant to break down completely as they simmered; this is what thickens the stew. Mine broke down somewhat, but there remained chunks. If I were to make this recipe again, I would slice the plantains before cooking.
Ingredients: -1 lb. beef -1/2 lb. tomatoes -3 T. chopped, fresh basil (I might use more than this) -1/2 c. chopped celery -wild peppercorns -4 cloves garlic -2 T. grated ginger -1/3 c. parsley -2 habañeros, or other spicy pepper, seeded -2 onions -1 T. palm oil (or peanut oil, seasoned with 1 tsp. paprika and a pinch of turmeric) -5-6 lbs. plantains -2" fresh ginger, sliced into thin sheets
Directions: 1) Puree tomatoes, parsley, basil, celery, peppers, garlic, ginger, one onion and peppercorns in a food processor. 2) Peel the plantains, slice and place in a large water basin. 3) Cut the meat in small cubes, then wash and drain. 4) Chop remaining onion and sauté in palm oil in a large pot. Season to taste. 5) Add all ingredients, cover with water, and let simmer for 1 1/2 hours. 6) Serve hot.