Many staples of the Cameroonian diet came from the explorers of the New World (the Americas). The Portuguese arrived in Cameroon in 1472 and brought with them such foods as hot peppers, maize (corn), cassava (a root vegetable), and tomatoes.
Other Europeans settled on the Cameroon coast in the mid 1800s, with the British arriving first, followed by the French and Germans. The French influence is reflected in the presence of some foods, such as omelettes and French bread, as well as in the preparation of some dishes; however, for the most part, Cameroonians continue to prepare their own traditional foods.
The staple foods eaten by the people of Cameroon vary from region to region, depending on climate, and what is grown locally.
In the Centre and South provinces, plantain is considered as the staple food of the populations. maize is also very popular, while rice is consumed on special occasions. The Centre and South region is particularly characterized by certain dishes like Kwem (young cassava leaves with the juice from palm nuts), Nnam ngon (marrow paste cooked with plantain leaves), Nnam owondo and Ndomba tsit (meat cooked tied in plantain leaves). However the food most typical in the southern region of Cameroon is ndolé, which is made of boiled, shredded bitterleaf (a type of green), peanuts, and melon seeds. It is seasoned with spices and hot oil, and can be cooked with fish or meat. Bobolo, made of fermented cassava shaped in a loaf, is popular in both the south and central regions.
While tuber crops and plantains are staple foods in the southern part of Cameroon, cereals, millet are the staples in the northern parts. maize is consumed almost everywhere, especially in the western part of Adamawa. In the Nord, Extreme-Nord and Adamawa provinces, the most commonly eaten meat is Beef taken from the herds which make up the wealth of North Cameroon. In both north and south regions, the starchy foods are cooked, then pounded with a pestle (a hand-held tool, usually wooden) until they form a sticky mass called fufu (or foofoo), which is then formed into balls and dipped into tasty sauces. The sauces are made of ingredients such as cassava leaves, okra, and tomatoes.
In the cuisine of the Littoral Province the most important ingredients are cocoyams, cassava, beans, kolokaschia, leaves, grains and nuts. These vegetables are cultivated, but in some regions they grow spontaneously. There are many ethnic groups inhabiting this province, each with its own culture and traditional cuisine.
Fufu made using corn is the staple food of this province. Besides corn, other important ingredients in the West Province’s cuisine are tubers like yams, cocoyams, cassava and sweet potatoes. Tubers and banana are quite often cooked in a mixture with a variety of meats (goat, sheep, pork, beef, chicken and bush meat). These mixtures are called Kondre and they are served with corn fufu, pounded kolokashia or yellow Soup. There are many leaves used as vegetables in this cuisine. Some of them are kolokashia, cocoyam, cassava and beans leaves. The usual cooking method for these leaves is mixing them with palm oil and seasoning with salt and pepper. In some parts of the West Province (Bamboutos Division and parts of Menoua) people eat more exotic dishes.
Fresh fruit is plentiful in Cameroon. The native mangoes are especially enjoyed. Other fruits grown locally and sold in village marketplaces include oranges, papayas, bananas, pineapples, coconuts, grapefruit, and limes.
FOOD FOR RELIGIOUS AND HOLIDAY CELEBRATIONS
During the month long observance of the holiday of Ramadan, Cameroon's Muslims fast from dawn to dusk. This means they are forbidden to eat or drink during this time. The evening meal during Ramadan may include a rich soup. In most areas, a fete des mouton festival is celebrated two months after Ramadan to remember the willingness of Abraham to sacrifice a sheep from his flock. This celebration lasts for several days, during which it is customary for people to slaughter a sheep and then visit their friends and neighbours, giving them gifts of meat.
Most Cameroonians celebrate Christmas, even those who are not Christian. It is a time for visiting friends and family, and exchanging gifts. Holidays and events, such as coronations; saying goodbye to someone going abroad; weddings, and even funerals, are marked by feasts and meals at which friends and neighbours gather to eat local favourite dishes. It is traditional to slaughter and cook a sheep or goat at important occasions. Chicken dishes are also popular holiday fare.
SOME CAMEROONIAN RECIPES TO SAMPLE!
two to four cups of Black-eyed peas, Hariccots, Ibo beans or Koki beans
one or two sweet peppers to taste
Salt to taste
Palm oil to taste
Plantain leaves or (aluminum foil) and string
Clean the koki beans in water in a large pot. Cover them with water and soak them for at least 4 hours or overnight. After soaking them rub them together between your hands to remove the skin if need be. Rinse to wash away the skin and any other debris. Drain them in a colander.
Crush, grind, or mash the Koki beans into a thick paste. Put the crushed beans in a mortar and mix. Slowly stir in little water if needed to make the paste smooth. Grind or cream the Koki beans until it’s smooth and creaming. It is important to incorporate small air bubbles into the paste. Heat the oil for a few minutes, when warmed; add half the oil to the bean paste. Then add pepper and oil to the bean paste. Add salt to taste and mix well.
Warm the banana leaves for half a minute over hot flame or in a hot oven, or on a grill, or in a pot of boiling water. This makes them easier to fold. Remove the center rib of each leaf by cutting across it with a knife and pulling it off. Cut the ends off each leaf to form a large rectangle. Fold the Plantain leaves to completely enclose the ingredients in a packet two or three layer thick.
Place sticks or a wire basket on the bottom of a large pot. Carefully stack the packets on the sticks, add enough water to steam-cook them (the water level should be below the packets). Cover tightly and boil for one to three hours. Cooking time depends on the size of the packet. The finished Koki should be cooked to the center, like a cake.
Koki can be eaten hot or cold and it’s served with Koki Corn, Koki Plantain, boiled Yam, Plantain and Cocoyams.
By Isabel S Sangha Mateng (in Mbo meaning small nail) Bezeng
The Mbo tribes are a collection of Semi-Bantu ethnic groups most highly concentrated in the Central (Littoral) and the West Provinces of Cameroon. The Mbo dialect is also a spoken in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The Mbo traditional dance is called Ewane. The Mbo people are known for their traditional dish called Koki (Mbo Cake) and Tala Andre Marie even named his first album after the famous Mbo traditional dish Koki. There are three different types of Koki’s consisting of Koki beans made from Ekoki, Haricot beans, Ibo beans or Black eyed beans, Koki Corn this could be made using fresh or dry Corn and finally Koki Plantain made from plantain.
Palm oil or vegetable oil (for the health conscious)
Maggi (Meat or Chicken Broth)
Dry fish/meat/Cow skin/snails (or anything you want to in put)
Spinach or Waterleaf
Put the meat/cow skin, salt, etc into the pot you will cook the eru in and boil till half done. Then blend the crayfish and part of the pepper together and pour into meat pot add more salt and maggi. Let simmer for about 15mins and then add dry fish. While the pot is simmering put eru in a bowl and pour hot water into it and rinse (this kills part of the strong eru smell). After rinsing well put the squeezed eru into the pot, pour a small quantity of oil into the pot and stir. Cook on medium high for about 20mins and now add the cut spinach or waterleaf into the pot and add oil, stir everything together, then cover and let cook for about 15-20mins. Towards the end, blend a small quantity of pepper then add into the pot, add oil**stir and let simmer with the pot open for about 5mins.
** The idea here is to put enough oil until it is easily scouped out from the pot without scouping out the eru with it. It sounds really unhealthy but oil is part of eru and it is good! Don't forget to let it burn just a tad bit, slightly burnt eru taste better!
**Also beware of over cooking, because eru when over cooked does turn bitter so when you squeeze the eru and spinach or waterleaf do it well so that way you can easily control the amount of water as the cooking progresses. if you realise there is too much water in the pot, cook with the pot open, don't cover it.
You can eat this with any fufu or garri
By Phebe Etchu from Mamfe, South West Province
Ginger, garlic, pepper, salt, maggi
Boil the meat, blend the peanuts and add to the boiled meat (with broth from meat). Cook for about 20 mins until peanut is well cooked. Another alternative is to boil the peanuts first before adding to the meat. This means that you wouldn't have to cook it for as long as 20 mins. Add ginger, garlic, pepper, salt and maggi to taste. Also add the washed bitterleaf, stir and cook for another 10 mins.Taste for salt and maggi and then add the crayfish and leave to simmer for another 5-10 mins or so. In a separate pan heat vegetable oil and add sliced onions to it and fry for about 5 mins and then add this to the ndole when you are done and leave to simmer for about another 3 mins, taste for salt and maggi et voila! The Ndole is done!
Serve with plantains or miondo or bobolo or yams or even rice
By Wakuna Bernice Lima from Bali, North West Province
1/2 cup ground njangsa
4 country onion nuts
1 table spoon bee nuts (country black pepper)
1 dry roasted green plantain
1 Hot pepper salt to taste
3 maggi cubes
Fresh basil (small bunch)
1 whole red onion
2 tablespoons peanut oil
4 whole white fish cut into 4 inch steaks (you may use tilapia, catfish, snapper, sea bass)
Blend all the ingredients above and place over fish steaks. Place fish smothered with ingredients in aluminum foil (traditionally plantain leaves are used). Place these in a pot with about 3 inches of water and steam on low heat for about an hour. You will need to watch the water level and continually replenish the water as the steaming progresses. Alternately you could also use a steamer. Serve with plantains or yams.
By Liz Oton from Mamfe, South West Province
Ingredients (for 6):-
1 gros poulet de 2 kg
8 plantains mûres
2 gros oignons
3 tomates moyennes
2 cuillères à soupe d'huile
200 g de coulis de tomates
2 gros poivrons (1 rouge et 1 vert)
2 petits piments (facultatif)
4 grosses carottes
Gingembre en poudre
1 bouquet garni
Nettoyer le poulet et le découper en morceaux. Cuire le poulet pendant 10 minutes dans un grand volume d'eau avec du sel et du poivre. Une fois cuits, faites dorer les morceaux à la friteuse ou la poêle sur toutes les faces.
Eplucher 6 des 8 plantains. Les couper en deux dans le sens de la longueur, puis en petits cubes épais dans le sens de la largeur. Saler légèrement et faire frire dans une friteuse jusqu'à ce qu'ils soient bien bruns. Réserver. Préparer les légumes. Eplucher les carottes et les couper en diagonales pour obtenir des morceaux épais et esthétiques. Réserver.
Préparer les légumes. Eplucher les carottes et les couper en diagonales pour obtenir des morceaux épais et esthétiques. Réserver.
Emincer les oignons. Réserver.
Laver, évider et couper les poivrons en quartiers épais. Réserver.
Laver et détailler les tomates fruits en tous petits morceaux. Réserver.
Dans une grande casserole, faire sauter les oignons dans l'huile chaude. Dès qu'ils sont translucides, incorporer les autres légumes et les tomates. Couvrir et laisser cuire à feu moyen pendant 5 minutes. Incorporer ensuite le coulis de tomates, le bouquet garni et toutes les autres épices. Couvrir et laisser cuire 10 à 15 minutes (fonction du degré d'acidité de la tomate).
Ajouter les morceaux de poulet. Bien les mélanger à la sauce aux légumes. Incorporer enfin les cubes de plantains frits. Mélanger délicatement pour ne pas les émietter (2 minutes), puis éteindre le feu.
Eplucher et couper les deux plantains restants en diagonales, faire frire les morceaux et servir avec le poulet DG
By Soraya Sone (Bakossi / Ewondo) from South West / Central Provinces
HUCKLEBERRY STEW (otherwise known as "njama-njama")
N.B: Dried and preserved huckleberry is used.
200g of huckleberry
Palm oil (2-4 cooking spoons)
2 large fresh tomatoes (or 3 medium size tomatoes)
Maggi cubes (>3)
Salt (small amount)
1 large fresh red onion
¼ cup crayfish (“njanga”)
1 large African red pepper
Overnight soak the huckleberry in fresh cold water.This will help in substantially softening the huckleberry. Do this in a large pot as the huckleberry will rise doubling its original amount of 200g.
The next day, rinse out the huckleberry in fresh cold water(x4) using a strainer and put to boil. Once boiling hot, reduce heat and leave to simmer for 30 minutes.
Then drain water and leave to cool.
Next finely chop tomatoes. Also chop onions in medium chunks. Do not mix tomatoes and onions.
Blend the crayfish (“njanga”) using a blender or if bought ready blended, do not re-blend.
Depending on type of palm oil, “bleach” or heat palm oil. When palm oil sufficiently hot and well “bleached”, reduce heat.
Now add finely chopped tomatoes and fry until tomatoes are well “sautéed”
Then add onions. Fry for about 3-5 minutes. Be careful not to over fry onions. Sprinkle small amount of salt.
When the melange of onions and tomatoes are well fried, start adding the huckleberry in small amounts stirring well with a wooden spoon as you do so. Add the large African pepper as well.
When all huckleberry is added, add more salt and maggi cubes to required taste.
When required taste achieved, add blended crayfish (“njanga”) and stir well. Leave to cook for 10-15 minutes.
Serve piping hot with boiled ripe plantains or with corn fufu flour; otherwise known as “fufu corn” Yellow corn fufu is a healthier option. Remember to have more huckleberry vegetable on your plate than the corn fufu or plantain, as part of a healthy balanced diet.
By Mambo Forya (proud native of the Kingdom of Mankon and a Princess of the Fondom of Nkwen) from North West Province.
Hmmm, I am soooo salivating! Here are 6 recipes for you to try at home...go and get cooking!
Thanks to the sexy six who sent in their recipes...mucho love!
Hope you have enjoyed our week long Cameroon affairs, here on DC!
Today also marks the end of the Baka competition which we had on DC and we now have 2 winners...thanks to all that took part, watch out for more competition here on DC.
Thanks for visiting and checking the blog.