International Cooking: Food from Central African Republic

It was difficult to find ideas for representing the food from Central African Republic. I only got one reply on my Reddit post and it was from someone who did not live in the country (though it was still appreciated). Because of this, it was a rather short week.


As you can probably guess, the Central African Republic is located in Central Africa. The land has been inhabited for thousands of years by indigenous people.

During the late 19th century, France ruled the country as a colony and French is still an official language today. In 1960, Central African Republic became independent and was ruled by a series of autocratic leaders.

There has been a lot of unrest in the years since, and there has been a civil war ongoing since 2012. Central African Republic is rich in mineral deposits and other resources, yet is one of the poorest countries in the world, which is probably not helped by the civil unrest.

What Do People Eat in Central African Republic?

Like many poor countries in the area, Central African cuisine relies heavily on indigenous foods such as millet, sorghum, bananas, yams, okra, onion, garlic, spinach, rice, and palm oil. Corn, cassava, peanuts, chilies, sweet potatoes, and tomatoes are common imported ingredients.

Meat isn’t very common, but when it’s used it is usually chicken, goat, or wild game. Fish can be found in many dishes and insects such as cicadas, grasshoppers, crickets, and termites are often used as sources of protein.

What I Made

Maboké de Capitaine (Steamed Fish)

Maboke de capitaine

This fish dish is usually made with Nile perch and steamed in banana leaves, but I used cod and parchment paper. Onion, garlic, tomato, chili, and parsley are steamed with the fish. This is often served with rice and fried plantains, which is how I ate it. This was alright; I like cooking fish in parchment because it’s an easy way to keep it moist, but I think I used a little too much chili!

I used the recipe from International Cuisine.

Fried Plantains

Fried Plantains

Fried plantains are a common side dish all over Africa, and since I was low on dishes I decided to finally make them to accompany my maboké de capitaine. I didn’t use a recipe; I just sliced some nearly ripe plantain and shallow fried until golden on both sides. To finish, I added a little salt. I think they turned out alright but I found out afterwards that it may be better to use ripe plantain, so I will try that next time. I’m sure I’ll end up making this again at some point, considering all the countries I still have left that enjoy plantains.

Shrimp and Sweet Potato

Shrimp with sweet potato

This is a dish I saw frequently mentioned as being common in the Central African Republic but I couldn’t find a recipe or any further detail than ‘shrimp, served with boiled yams or sweet potato’. I was low on dishes this week so I decided to just attempt to create this dish.

I mashed some boiled sweet potato with a little cream and butter (probably not so authentic) and a touch of cayenne pepper. The shrimp are sautéed with garlic, onion, and chili flakes, and tossed with parsley. I don’t know how close this comes to what is served in the Central African Republic, but I can say it was delicious!

Kanda (Beef and Pumpkin Seed Meatballs)

Kanda

Kanda seems to be one of the more popular Central African dishes. It consists of meatballs made with beef, onion, garlic, and ground pumpkin seeds, cooked in a sauce consisting mainly of onion, tomato, and chili, with parsley added at the end. This is commonly served with rice, which is how I ate it.

I thought this was a pretty good dish; nothing super amazing, but I liked it. The recipe I used is from Tara’s Multicultural Table. I used a little less pumpkin seeds because I had not realized how much the recipe needed and didn’t buy enough!

Final Thoughts

This week was alright but I wish I could have found more food from Central African Republic to try. My favorite was the shrimp with sweet potato but since I kind of made it up, I’ll choose kanda as my favorite authentic Central African dish.

Next week, I’ll be cooking food from Chad.

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