After many hours standing in the kitchen, I have finally learned how to prepare a meal from start to finish! The meal is kaldou, a tomato-based dish that comes from the southern Manding and Diola people (the Casamance region). Today’s lesson began when Nene surprisingly let me xuuli (peel the vegetables) with the paka (knife). I’ve written down the recipe as best I can—all measurements, obviously, are to be eyeballed, like anything else here.
- Vegetables: eggplants, cassava, carrots, tomatoes, lots of onions, potatoes, sweet potatoes, green pepper
- Spices: Pepper, black peppercorns, salt, garlic, little dried red peppers, sugar, seasoning packets (my family likes Doli and Jongué brand)
- Vegetable oil
- Lemon juice
- White rice
- Make the white rice. Set aside.
- Cut eggplants, cassava, carrots, potatoes and sweet potatoes into slices or chunks. Set aside.
- Dice onions (lots of them) and set aside.
- In the mortar, grind up black peppercorns, little red peppers, and garlic cloves. Add sliced-up green peppers and a seasoning packet and continue to pound until it turns into a sludgy paste.
- Add diced onions to the mortar. Continue to pound until the onions are evenly coated. Add pepper and mix in. Remove mixture from mortar and set aside in a bowl.
- Prepare fish by simply making long cuts on their sides.
- Heat up vegetable oil in the pot. Fry the fish, then remove the fish and set aside. Keep oil hot in the pot.
- Pound tomatoes in the mortar.
- Add pounded tomatoes and onion mixture to the oil and stir. Add lemon juice and other vegetables.
- Bring back to a boil and stir. Add more seasoning packets, salt, and sugar to taste. If needed, add water.
- Let simmer/bring back to a boil for half an hour. Stir occasionally. Add the fish.
- Let simmer for at least another half an hour.
- Serve by ladling the sauce, fish, and vegetables over the rice.