Monday, May 3, 2010


Much of our time is spent on food…planning meals, walking to town to go to the market, cooking, eating…thinking about the food we have, day dreaming about the food we don’t.

Supplies in the market are limited and getting enough protein is a constant struggle. Our comparative wealth allows us the luxury of buying eggs…and the occasional chicken…but most people in Ribáuè subsist, for the most part, on mandioca [also called cassava or manioc, depending where you are]. Originally native to Brazil, this plant grows just about anywhere. Its greens are pretty tasty, not bitter at all, and the roots are vaguely potato-ish, but with a slightly chewier, denser consistency. Mandioca root can be dried, ground, and boiled to make a vaguely-polenta-like carb dish called caracata. Sometimes you see people eating the roots raw, which I didn’t feel the need to sample given that uncooked mandioca roots contain arsenic. Apparently, the common process is to nibble at the root in search of the less bitter parts which are, presumably, less toxic. No thanks.

Recipe for Matapa Zambeziano

[i.e. Mandioca greens with coconut milk]

½ kilo cassava leaves

2 L boiling water

½ kilo green papaya

milk of 1 coconut

2 onions

3 tomatoes

peanuts, crushed [“pilared”]

Boil all ingredients except coconut milk over fire. When water is almost boiled off, add coconut milk. Let simmer one hour.


Other staple dishes include beans and caracata:

Boiled Mandioca root:

Despite the limited range of ingredients, Scotty and I managed to make some pretty excellent meals. We figured out a way to make bruschetta, a curried egg frittata, and even a chocolate cake with a ridiculously good frosting made from fresh grated coconut and sweetened condensed milk.

1 comment:

  1. Good article. Matapa is usually found in sub-Saharan Africa. It looks like the Mozambican version of the cassava leaf stews. As you shared its recipe, if you wish to look for more, then you can look for a website like Even I have read the good reviews of this recipe on Boris Wolfman’s website , who has thoroughly shared his own experience about this recipe too.