The Slowcook at Spydog Farm The Slowcook at Spydog Farm

Kids Make Ndole

October 30th, 2009 · No Comments · Posted in Ethnic, kids, Recipes

Grinding vegetables for our ndole

Grinding vegetables for our ndole

Fresh ginger? Dried fish flakes? Peanut butter?

These are not ingredients we normally think of together, but they all play an important role in a traditional stew from the West African nation of Cameroon called ndole.

Ndole is the local name for bitterleaf, a popular green. Lots of fresh greens, tomatoes, protein and healthful fats make this dish not only delicious in a way you may not have experienced before, but, as the kids in my food appreciation classes discovered, also very good for you.

This recipe gives the kids plenty to do. There’s chopping onions and garlic, grating ginger, and pounding all of these together with a mortar and pestle. There’s pulling leaves of fresh greens off the stems and cutting tofu. And all that’s before you get to the actual cooking.

We don’t have bitterleaf. But I do have a plot full of big, bushy broccoli rape plants in my garden, so that’s what we used for the greens. You could also substitute spinach or kale or collards, whatever is most easily available. You don’t have to use a mortar and pestle–a blender will do. But we like to make things by hand in our classes, and I thought that pounding the onions, ginger and garlic together was probably more authentic to this dish’s origins.

Begin by making a paste of 1 onion, chopped, 3 cloves garlic, minced, and 2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger. You can do this with a large mortar and pestle (we used my Mexican molcajete) or a blender. Add to the paste 1 14-ounce can diced or crushed tomatoes.

Meanwhile, stem, clean and tear into pieces the leaves of 12 ounces greens such as broccoli rape, turnip greens, collards, kale or spinach. (If you can find bitterleaf, so much the better.) Cook the greens in a pot of salted water until tender.

Heat 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (or palm oil) in skillet and lightly brown one block of tofu that has been well-drained and cut into bite-size pieces. When the tofu is browned, stir in the vegetable paste, cover and cook over moderate heat for 10 minutes. (Tofu is not exactly traditional, but you can substitute shrimp or chicken or beef.)

Drain the cooked greens and stir them into the stew. Then stir in 1/2 cup dried fish flakes (we used Japanes bonito flakes from Whole Foods), and 1/3 cup peanut butter.

Some of the children in our classes are allergic to peanuts, so we served them a version without the peanut butter and took precautions to make sure they were not otherwise exposed to it. Thorough hand washing is required to remove all traces of the peanut protein.

When the stew is finished, serve it hot. It is a bit dull looking on the plate, so you might try dressing it up with a drizzle of olive oil or palm oil. This will put a smile on your ndole, as well as the faces of everyone at the table.

For more great stories about how we are taking back our food system, check Fight Back Friday.

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