By: Christian Bamatembera
Manioc, also known as cassava, is originated in South America. Due to its amazingly enduring nature and ability to grow in poor soils, and with little care, it spread all over the tropics, and then to all of tropical Africa. The sombé is a traditional African vegetable. It is made from manioc (cassava) leaves, and is commonly eaten in Burundi, Rwanda, Congo (RDC), and other African countries too.
The leaves have high amounts of Vitamins A and C; half a cup of cooked sombé provides half of the daily Vitamin A requirements of a young child. Manioc leaves also contain iron, calcium, magnesium and potassium.
There are several ways to cook sombé. Some African countries put meat in it, and others don’t. Since it takes time to cook sombé, most Africans cook it during special occasions. In my family, we cook it very often: at least once a week. To cook sombé, you have to first pound the cassava leaves. To do so, there is a traditional way and a “modern” way. With the traditional way, you pound fresh leaves in a wooden mortar. With the modern way, you use a food processor, or you buy cassava leaves, which are already pounded and frozen. Sombé is typically served with rice and beef, chicken, or goat meat.
- 1 kg young (less than 2 months) manioc leaves coarsely chopped
- 10 oz of spinach (1 of the spinach bags found in the grocery stores)
- 2 branches of celery
- 2 leeks, coarsely chopped
- ½ cup finely ground dry peanuts – optional (you can use peanut butter instead)
- 3 T palm oil
- salt & pepper, to taste
1. Clean manioc leaves and remove them from the stocks.
2. Pound manioc leaves and leek in a mortar until completely broken down (can use a food processor).
3. Put in a large casserole & cover with water.
4. Cook for about 40 minutes.
5. Add oil.
6. Add more water to cover, if necessary.
7. Continue cooking for about 1 hour.
8. Add peanut.
9. Cook for about 2 minutes then turn off the oven.
10. Add salt and pepper to taste.