Cameroon is called “Africa in miniature” because everything you can find in the African continent is found here. It’s diversity in landscapes represent the whole continent’s major climatic zones. Natural features such as white beaches, mountainous areas, tropical rainforests, marshland mangrooves, savannah grasslands and sparse deserts can all be found in this Central African country. This variety in geographical features is also reflected in the variety of peoples and cultures that dwell in the different regions. Hence, the variety spills over into the delicious foods you will come to enjoy in Cameroon
Cameroonian cuisine (French: cuisine camerounaise) is also one of the most varied in Africa due to its location. The country lies at the crossroads between the North, West, and Center of the African continent. Resulting in a diversity in ethnicity with different cultures ranging from Bantus, Semi-bantus and Shua-Arabs. Enhanced by the influence of German colonialisation and later the French and English annexation of different parts of the country.
Cameroon food is also influenced by it’s Geography, with distinct differences between it’s North and South regions. Cameroon is made up of over 250 ethnic groups and cuisine differs greatly between ethnic group and also by region.
What do they eat in Cameroon?
Generally speaking, some staple in Cameroon include cassava, yams, rice, plantains, potatoes, sweet potatoes, maize, beans, millet, a wide variety of coco-yams, many vegetables and fruits. Cameroon is home to an active volcanic mountain called Mount Fako. The mountain’s most recent eruption occurred in February 12, 2012. This and other factors like the fact that we are located along the Atlantic coast contribute to fertile soils. The soil of most of the country is very fertile.
Typically, staple foods eaten in the Northern part of the country are maize/corn, millet, and peanuts. In the South, people eat more root vegetables like yams, cassava and plantains. Mainly, everybody eats everything 🙂
What is Cameroon famous for?
Cameroon is famous for it’s mineral rich soils. The soils are enriched by natural resources like oil, timber, hydroelectric power, natural gas, cobalt, nickel, iron ore and uranium. These mineral rich soils are favorable in the production of coffee, cocoa, rubber, cotton, bananas and oilseeds. These are just a few of Cameroon’s famous cash crops. Cameroon has the tallest mountain in West Africa, Mt Cameroon. Mt Cameroon is also called mt Fako because it is located in Fako division of the SW province. A wide variety of vegetables, herbs, spices and fruits, both domestic and imported species, are grown. These include:
- hot peppers
The French introduced French bread which is widely consumed and a breakfast staple in the Francophone/French-speaking parts of Cameroon. while in the Anglophone/English-speaking parts, British plain pan-loafs, locally called “Kumba bread,” less rich form of dinner rolls are common. The main source of protein for most inhabitants is fish since it is located on the coast of the Atlantic ocean. Poultry and beef are also eaten.
- What is the national dish of Cameroon.
Ndolé (Ndoleh) or bitterleaf stew is one of the national dishes of Cameroon. It is indigenous to the Douala people of the Littoral province where I was born and raised. This rich vegetable dish consists of stewed nuts (peanuts or egusi/pumpkin seeds), bitterleaf indigenous to West Africa and fish or beef. It is traditionally eaten with plantain, bobolo (a Cameroonian dish made of fermented ground manioc/cassava and wrapped in plantain leaves), rice or fufu. I was not intending to put any recipes on this post but I’m looking at this plate of ndolé. Well it’s starring back at me like…”come on, really,” I love good food and I know you do too so here’s a good one for the brave at heart. Other variations will include oxtail and other ingredients as well. It’s your kitchen, let your creative juices flow. You get the idea.
Ndolé Recipe Ingredients
- dried bitter leaf (substitute spinach)
- stockfish (dried fish or bunga)
- 20 oz dried or thawed frozen bitterleaf
- 2 cups raw peanuts
- 1lb beef stew meat (slightly bigger cuts)
- 1/2lb stockfish (dried fish/bunga)
- 1 large onion
- 6 garlic cloves
- 2 cubes 1″ ginger
- 2 sprigs parsley
- salt to taste
Method of Preparation
Wash ripe plantains, cut the tips off and slice into halves. Then submerge in water in a large pot to cook until plantains are soft and some of the skins split. Transfer into a cold water bath and peel off the skin once cool. Using a knife, carefully slice chip size layers of cooked ripe plantains to enjoy with your delicious ndolé.
Blend 1/4 of the onion, parsley, 1 garlic clove and a ginger cube. Rinse beef stew meat, fish stock, transfer into a sauce pot, season with salt and add in blended spices. Bring to a quick boil and simmer for 10 minutes. Add in 1 1/2cup of water, reduce heat and simmer for 20-25 minutes until beef is tender.
In a sauce pot, boil bitter leaf for 10 minutes. Let cool or transfer into a cold water bath. Wash, by rubbing bitter leaf between your palms gently but vigorously. Rinse and squeeze out water. Repeat twice, this helps wash away some of the characteristic bitter taste of bitterleaf. All the other yummy ingredients will perfectly turn this bitter into a succulent delight. Squeeze out as much water as you can after the final rinse. Set bitter leaf aside.
Boil peanuts for 10-15 minutes. Blend peanuts with 1/2 onion, remaining ginger and garlic into a paste. ( Not too smooth, just a little grainy).
Slice the remaining 1/4 onion. In a large skillet, heat a tablespoon of peanut oil. Saute onions for 3 minutes. Add in peanut blend, 1/2 cup of beef broth and bring to a gentle simmer. Cook for about 15 minutes stirring occasionally to keep the sauce from burning.
Add salt to peanut sauce to taste. Then add bitter leaf and another 1/2cup of beef broth. Stir well and simmer for about 15 minutes
Serving NdoléServe with boiled ripe plantains, rice or your fufu of choice. Ndolé can also be served by itself as a dip, an appetizer or a main dish. In Cameroon, the Douala people mostly serve it with myondo/bubuluh (tapioca pearls) which are boiled tubers of fermented pounded cassava paste wrapped and cooked in plantain leaves.
Nutritional Information on Ndolé
Ndolé has 511.4 calories per serving. It is a good source of Vitamin A and C.
So now I’ve worked myself up into a frantic ndolé crave…my my, I can almost smell it.
Some other cameroonian delicacies and favourites are:
- Water fufu and eru
- kuki (seasoned pureed blackeyed peas with red palm oil wrapped cooked in plantain or banana leaves)
- feuille manioc (coco leaves
- Groundnut soup (peanut stew)
- Fried sweet potatoes
- Banana bread
- Fufu corn and njama njama (huckleberry leaves)
- soya/brochettes (spicybeef or goat kebab)
- Sanga (a mixture of maize, cassava leaf, and palm nut juice)
- Mbanga soup (palm nut soup) and Kwacoco (pounded seasoned coco-yams wrapped in plantain or banana leaves)
- Achu or taro (cocoyam fufu with an orange/yellow red palm oil soup)
- Mbongo tchobi (a spicy black fish stew made with native herbs and spices)
- Egusi soup (ground pumpkin seeds often cooked with dark leafy greens or okra)
- Kondreh (stewed unripe plantains with herbs and spices, usually cooked with goat meat)
- Nangtare (coco-yam or plantain with bitterleaf, palm oil, bunga/stock/dried fish, goat or beef)
- Curries, soups and fish dishes abound, as well as meats on skewers.
- Menguin (Green grasshoppers are a seasonal delicacy when they migrate through the whole country towards the end of the rainy season. They are delicious as kabobs lightly salted wings and limbs on or off. I prefer the crunch with the wings and limbs on…yum)
- Insects are eaten in some parts of the country (particularly the forested regions).Once my father went to tap palm wine (process of falling an old unproductive palm tree and shaving the bottom to drain or tap the sap). He came back with some bug looking white fluffy palm things which he sauteed and ate. I just could not do it. Maybe if I did not see them alive I might have tried but…I don’t even know what they are calledWhat do they drink in Cameroon?
- Beer from sorghum, maize/corn or millet is produced in many households called bil-bil.
- Ginger Beer is a home-made non-alcoholic drink. Shopkeepers often sell their homemade ginger drinks, sometimes in recycled vegetable-oil bottles. Ginger beer can be enjoyed chilled over ice, or diluted with cold water.
- Palm wine (sweet nectar from palm tree, ferments into an alcoholic beverage)
- Afofo (liquor distilled from palm sap)
- imported beers
- imported wines
- Rumemail me if I forgot something or just share a comment about some of your favorites. Don’t forget to like and subscribe for updates. Thank you for sharing this moment in time with me. I truly appreciate it.