This was a difficult week because I had a hard time finding authentic recipes for food from Cameroon. My Reddit post must have been rejected by the moderators (the first time this has happened during this challenge) so I didn’t get any input from anyone from Cameroon.
Cameroon is located in west-central Africa, with the Gulf of Guinea to its west. It’s often considered as being part of both Central and West Africa.
The early inhabitants of the region include the Sao and Baka people. Portuguese explorers discovered Cameroon in the 15th century, but it was Germany who colonized the country in 1884.
After World War I, Cameroon was divided between France and the United Kingdom. The country attempted independence a few times, but the French fought back. Finally, the French-administered part of Cameroon became independent in 1960, and the British part joined them in 1961.
What Do People Eat in Cameroon?
Many Cameroonians grow their own food, so a lot of Cameroonian dishes are heavily based on what can be grown within the country. This includes cassava, plantain, peanuts, peppers, corn, tomato, eggplant, and okra, among other things.
Fish and beef are common, and some areas of Cameroon eat insects too. Brochettes are a popular meat dish throughout many African countries including Cameroon; they are a kind of barbecued kebab that can be made from chicken, beef, or goat meat.
What I Made
- Chicken Kati Kati
- Poulet DG (Chicken, Plantains, and Vegetables)
- Ndole (Bitterleaf and Peanut Stew)
- Fish Rolls
Scroll down to read about other popular Cameroonian dishes I didn’t make!
Chicken Kati Kati
This is a very simple dish consisting of chicken pieces seasoned with onion powder, garlic powder, white pepper, and cayenne pepper. The chicken is grilled and then finished in a tomato sauce. I thought it would taste good and it was also something my husband would eat, so I decided to make it.
I followed the recipe from African Bites, but I used boneless skinless chicken thighs because that was what I had and my husband prefers boneless chicken. I also used canned tomato sauce rather than fresh tomatoes, and I didn’t use any water.
While this tasted alright, it definitely wasn’t anything amazing. Yes, I did make some changes to the recipe, but I think it was the flavor of the spices and sauce itself that I wasn’t really a fan of. I think using real garlic and onion rather than powder would have made a big difference, but I’d have to do more research to know if that would somehow make it really inauthentic.
Poulet DG (Chicken, Plantains, and Vegetables)
Poulet DG means ‘chicken for the director general’ and is usually served on special occasions. This made me feel pretty confident it would be good, because of course you’d want to serve the best food to the director general.
Chicken thighs are marinated in cilantro, celery, habanero, shallots, ginger, and white pepper. Then you fry some plantains. The chicken gets cooked with carrots, bell peppers, and onions, and fresh tomatoes are blended to make a sauce. The fried plantains go into the dish to cook for a few minutes before serving.
I liked everything that was in this, but I can’t say I loved the end result. I thought it was going to be a bit more stew-like, but as you can see, it wasn’t at all. The only part I did differently from the recipe was to brown the chicken in a skillet, rather than broil (it was really hot that day and I didn’t want to use the oven if not strictly necessary). I guess I just didn’t really love how the flavors went together in the end.
This was my first time trying plantains in this way (previously I had only tried them mashed for Belize week). Honestly, they tasted a lot like potato! And to me, that was a very good thing.
If you want to try this, the recipe I used is from Yummy Medley.
Ndole (Bitterleaf and Peanut Stew)
Ndole is a stew made of bitterleaf and peanuts, usually with beef and shrimp as well. Bitterleaf is an African plant, a bit like spinach or kale. As the name suggests, it’s rather bitter. I saw spinach suggested as a substitute, so that’s what I used. I think the peanuts were meant to be raw, and then boiled and blended. I used roasted peanuts and they seemed to work fine–at least, the paste they made looked the same as that in the recipe. I used dried shrimp leftover from Cambodia week instead of trying to find ground crayfish. I also halved the recipe.
One problem I had was that I didn’t have as much spinach as I was supposed to because, although I often have bags of baby spinach open in my fridge for a few weeks with no issues, my two unopened bags weren’t in the best condition and I had to throw some of it out. So this stew should have been much more green!
I was really apprehensive about this dish, because it seemed like there were a lot of things going on that I wasn’t sure would work together. I found this actually tasted alright. I wouldn’t call it my most favorite dish or anything and I’m not sure I would make it again, but it really wasn’t bad at all.
I got the recipe from African Bites.
Fish rolls are a pastry filled with fish, chili, and tomato sauce. They are typically fried, so that’s how I cooked them. The recipe I used called for sardines, which I had never eaten before, and I was happy to finally try them.
I actually already had a can of sardines at home. This is because a while ago I rediscovered my love for canned mackerel (it’s really good on buttered toast) but my supermarket does not seem to sell it anymore. However, there were approximately 934525 varieties of sardines, so I decided to try them. But the can had just been sitting there since I hadn’t had the opportunity to try them. I saw this as my chance!
My sardines were in olive oil, so I added some tomato sauce and chili flakes as the recipe called for sardines in chili tomato sauce. Otherwise, apart from reducing the recipe, I didn’t change anything.
I found that I had too much filling, and I also found the fish rolls were browning too quickly even though I followed the directions concerning the oil temperature. They didn’t end up looking that pretty either, as you can see. But they did taste pretty good, and I do think I like sardines, though probably not as much as mackerel!
This recipe was from African Bites.
Other Popular Cameroonian Dishes
- Potato hotpot – a stew made from potatoes, various vegetables, and chicken or other meat. It’s usually flavored with garlic, ginger, and herbs.
- Koki corn – a mixture of corn, onion, and chili blended into a chunky paste, wrapped in banana leaves, and steamed. This is a Cameroonian version of tamales!
To be honest, I didn’t love most of the food from Cameroon. If I had to choose a favorite, it would be the fish rolls. They didn’t look pretty but they tasted good.
Next week, I’ll be cooking food from Canada.