INFORMATION SHEET 3
RECIPES FOR NUTRITIOUS DISHES
In most parts of Africa, family meals consist of one main dish that is eaten with an accompaniment. Main dishes are made from cereals, roots and tubers, green bananas or plantain. The accompaniment, which is known as the relish, sauce or soup, depending on the part of Africa, may consist of a vegetable dish (often green leafy vegetables) or a dish made from legumes and meat or fish, when available.
Main dishes are also made from a combination of cereal and legume grains or seeds. For example, maize can be eaten with bambara groundnuts, groundnuts, cowpeas or beans; rice can be eaten with cowpeas, beans or melon seeds (egusi). Such a combination is often the "complete" family meal. Few population groups add green leafy vegetables to cereal-legume dishes.
In the humid regions of East and central Africa, the abundant green bananas and plantain are used as the base of the main dish. Other fruits are consumed when in season, but they are not customarily part of regular family meals.
When families eat a main dish (the staple) with a relish made from pumpkin, cowpea or cassava leaves, with the addition of groundnut sauce or red palm oil, they get the right mixture of nutrients for maintaining good health. The nutritional value of a meal made from a cereal and legume mixture can be improved by adding seasonal fruits, particularly fruits that are good sources of vitamins A and C (see Table 2.5, "Home garden crops rich in key nutrients", in Session 2). The "Family mixed meal guide" (Figure 1) gives an example of how different foods can be combined to prepare nutritionally sound meals.
Family mixed meal guide
Based on the information provided in the "Family mixed meal guide", trainers and field workers can discuss the nutritional adequacy of the meals commonly consumed locally with community and household members. They can review and discuss ways to improve traditional meals by adding fat or oil, vegetables, legumes, meat, eggs or fish, provided that households can either produce these at home or buy them at affordable prices. The field workers should also encourage the consumption of fruits (cultivated or wild) as part of the family meal. Fruits add variety and nutritional value (essential vitamins) to the diet and enhance the body's utilization of iron contained in plant foods.
The following recipes are for dishes prepared from home garden produce and commonly eaten in different parts of Africa.
1 kg yam, cocoyam, cassava or plantain, washed, peeled and cut into small pieces
3-4 cups water
1. Boil yam (or other starchy staple) in salted water for 30-45 minutes. Drain water.
2. Pound cooked yam with a pestle. Add some water and pound until the yam is smooth and consistent.
3. Form into balls and serve with a spicy vegetable sauce.
4 cups water
2 cups maize meal
1. Bring salted water to a boil and sprinkle in maize meal.
2. Cook for about 20 minutes, stirring constantly, until mixture is thick and smooth.
3. Cover and leave over a low heat for another 10-15 minutes.
4. Serve with a sauce.
Cassava and cowpea stew
1 cup cowpeas
1 sweet cassava tuber, peeled, washed and cut into cubes
Red palm oil
1. Wash and boil cowpeas.
2. Boil cassava and mix with boiled cowpeas.
3. Season with onion, salt, pepper and red palm oil.
Mashed pumpkin with peanut butter 6
1 medium pumpkin or bitter melon, peeled, seeded and cut into cubes
3 cups maize meal
1½ cups peanuts or 3 tablespoons peanut butter
½ teaspoon salt
Sugar to taste (for bitter melon)
1. Boil pumpkin or bitter melon in salted water until soft.
2. Mash until smooth and liquid.
3. Add maize meal and cook for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
4. Add peanuts or peanut butter and salt.
RELISH OR ACCOMPANIMENTS
Green leaves7 with peanut sauce
750 g leaves of amaranth, taro, pumpkin, bean or any other local leafy vegetable,
washed and cut or shredded
1-1½ cups peanuts or 2 tablespoons peanut butter
Salt to taste
1. Sort leaves (pumpkin leaf stalks should be peeled) and steam them in a tightly covered pot until tender.
2. Roast peanuts and grind into paste.
3. Cook onion and tomato in vegetable oil.
4. Add steamed leaves and more water. Add salt to taste.
5. Serve with peanut paste.
6 tender okra, sliced
Red palm oil
250 g amaranth leaves, washed and shredded
150 g water leaf
1. Boil or fry okra.
2. Sauté onion and tomato in red palm oil.
3. Add the leaves, okra, chillies and salt.
4. Cook for another 10 minutes.
Cassava leaves with coconut milk
2 bunches cassava leaves, sorted and washed
2 cups water
1 cup thick coconut cream
1. Pound cassava leaves until fine. Boil them in salted water for about 40 minutes.
2. Sauté onion and tomato in a little vegetable oil.
3. Add cooked cassava leaves and the coconut cream. Cook for another 5 minutes.
1 bunch jute leaves, washed and finely chopped (or dried powder)
1 bunch pumpkin leaves, washed and finely chopped
5 bitter eggplants, washed and finely chopped
1. Mix all ingredients together.
2. Boil for 10 minutes in covered pot. Cook until done, stirring occasionally.
Cassava leaves with groundnuts
2 bunches cassava leaves, washed and pounded
1. Boil cassava leaves for 40 minutes in salted water.
2. Pound groundnuts. Add them to the boiled leaves and cook for another 10 minutes.
3. Salt to taste.
Chickpea flour cakes
2 cups onion, chopped
1½ cups vegetable oil
2 cups chickpea flour
1. Sauté onion in vegetable oil until soft. Add some water.
2. Add hot pepper and more oil.
3. Add flour to pan of onions, water and pepper and form mixture into small cakes, adding more oil as needed.
4. Bake or fry the cakes.
5. Season cakes with cardamom, ginger, garlic and salt and continue cooking them for another 15 minutes.
SNACKS AND SAUCES
Plantain, peeled and sliced lengthwise
Red palm oil
1. Fry plantain in red palm oil until golden brown.
2. Season with salt.
Stewed sweet potatoes
1 kg peeled whole sweet potatoes (if large, cut in half)
1 spoonful flour
1. Place sweet potatoes in a pan with water.
2. Combine flour, sugar and salt. Sprinkle over sweet potatoes.
3. Simmer potatoes in pan until soft.
4. Season with nutmeg or other spices.
Stewed green bananas
10 green bananas, whole
1. Heat vegetable oil. Sauté onion until golden. Add salt.
2. Add tomato and pepper and cook for another 3 minutes.
3. Add bananas and some water.
5. Cover and cook over low heat until water is nearly gone and the bananas are soft.
6. Mash and serve.
Roasted African garden eggs (bitter tomatoes)
6 garden eggs, washed
1. Roast garden eggs.
2. Peel and add salt.
Nettle and barley sauce
500 g young nettle leaves, chopped
1 cup barley flour
Onion or garlic, minced
1. Cook leaves and press through a sieve.
2. Mix with barley flour. Add a little warm water and sauté.
3. Add onion or garlic and cook for another 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
4. Add salt.
1 cup cottonseed
2 cups onion, chopped
1 cup split peas
1. Put cottonseed in pot of cold water and bring to a boil. Drain.
2. When cottonseed has cooled, pound it.
3. Sauté onion and add spices.
4. Separately boil the peas. Drain them.
5. Mix together cottonseed, onion mixture and peas. Season.
6. Serve hot.
5 The same dish is known as nshima, mealie pap, sadza or tuwo in other parts of Africa.
6 Peanut, the popular name for groundnut, has been retained as indicated in original recipes.
7 Leaves of black jack, wild lettuce, kale, cowpea and many others can be prepared in similar manner.