CAMEROON- Ndole

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‘Old age is when you begin to say, I’ve never felt so young.’
Jules Renard

1990, and with the World Cup finals in Italy looming, the Cameroon national side were in trouble. Divisions between the Russian manager, Valeri Nepomniachi, and first team squad led to a dismal series of results, to such a degree that President of Cameroon, Paul Biya, made a call to former national hero, the 38 year old Roger Milla, pleading with him to come out of retirement and answer his country’s call. He couldn’t refuse.

Cameroon, with Milla, were the real shock troops at the tournament, defeating defending champions Argentina, and much fancied Columbia on their way to a quarter final encounter with England, where they led by a single goal until 7 minutes from time, when two Gary Lineker penalties were just enough to see them head home.

One of the most iconic scenes of any World Cup was delivered by the Indomitable Lions’ Roger Milla, as he danced the ‘Makossa’ around the corner flag following each of his four goals at Italia ’90.

Ndole is the Cameroonian national dish- a spicy stew-come-soup made with a pretty unusual ingredient- bitter-leaves- which I managed to pick up at Solly’s African Supermarket on Great Western Road. It has a strong tea-like scent and adds a distinct bitter taste, that is offset by peanuts. Definitely something different!

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INGREDIENTS (serves 2)
400g steak sliced into strips (can also be made with prawns, or other meats)
1 cup of dried bitterleaf (needs to be presoaked for a couple of hours)
2 cups collard greens chopped into strips
1 large onion, chopped
2 tbsp peanut butter- crunchy preferably
2 tablespoons freshly grated ginger
2 cloves of crushed garlic
1 can tomatoes
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 cup of water
Salt and pepper to taste

INSTRUCTIONS
1. Soak the bitterleaf for at least a couple of hours.
2. Boil the chopped collard greens for around for five minutes.
3. Brown off the steak in a pan with some of the oil over a medium heat, do not over cook as it will go tough. Set aside when done.
3. Saute the garlic, chopped onions, and grated ginger with the oil in a large pan over a medium heat.
4. Add the tomatoes, and water, then cook for a while on low heat for three minutes.
5. Add the steak, collards and cook for another five minutes.
6. Then, add the peanut butter it’s good to soften up by stirring first) and give a good stir to get everthing coated.
8. Add the bitterleaf in small quantities
9. Cook for about 20 minutes to reduce to a stew.

I’m serving the Ndole with white rice, but fried plantain chips are a good traditional accompaniment to have too.

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