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from: Central Africa | cooking method: boiling-simmering

Mbika with Meat

In Western and Central Africa the seeds of various species of Cucurbitaceae (which includes gourds, melons, pumpkins, and squashes) are ground into a flour and used to thicken soups and stews, thus adding protein and flavor (especially important when meat is scarce -- this recipe can also be made with little or no meat by increasing the amounts of the other ingredients). In Western Africa these plants, seeds, soups, and stews are all called Egusi, and this is the name most commonly used outside of Africa. In Central Africa's Congo River region, the word Mbika is used. In this recipe, mbika and meat are cooked in a banana-leaf packet. Chicken or fish can also be cooked this way.

woman from central african republic.

What you need

What you do

Look for egusi in African or International grocery stores. Pumpkin seeds can be substituted, as can pepitas which are available in Latin American grocery stores. Sesame seeds might also be used with some success. Frozen banana leaves may be found in Asian and Latin American stores. Banana leaves should be briefly heated before being used to wrap the mbika-meat mixture.

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