In honour of Black History Month, today I am sharing with you a dish that is near and dear to my heart: Saka Saka.
I was born and grew up in the Republic of Congo until the age of 8 and as far back as I can remember, this dish had a very special place in my childhood culinary memories. Although I would not have it often, every time I did, I would basically lick the plate clean – it was just THAT good.
Made of cassava leaves and spinach and left to simmer for hours, this dish is the kind of meal which flavours unravel exponentially with time. As you let the greens, the garlic, the peppers, the onions and the peanut butter all cook down together, it is like a rainbow of flavours starts appearing.
I have to admit, when I was first approached by a group of ladies who wanted to host an Instagram challenge for Black History Month, where we would share dishes from our country of origin, I was a little scared. I have never really attempted recreating dishes from Congo, just because I never thought it was something that my skills would allow me to do. PLUS: many of the delicious African dishes I grew up eating were not vegan.
Saka Saka, for example, is traditionally made with fish and since I do not eat fish, I really did not think I could manage to make it work. Lo and behold… I managed!
After doing a bit of research on the web, I found a site called International Vegetarian Union and it featured a vegetarian Saka Saka recipe. I was beyond excited! This recipe would be the starting point of my recipe development.
Because the measures were not as precise as I personally like, I kind of improvised some of the quantities and added some tweaks to the recipe based on my personal preferences.
The result: a creamy, rich, flavour packed stew that got my boyfriend more excited than I had seen him in a while….
I know this recipe might seem a little intimidating to some of you mainly because of the cassava leaves that are not as easily accessible as all the other ingredients, but honestly, apart from that, there is no way you can mess this recipe up. The most important thing is to really be patient with the cooking and let all the flavours bloom. This is not a quick dinner type of dish. It is a dish that requires time and love, but trust me, the result will be magnificent.
On that note, this will be the last recipe of February and I am so glad that I made it one about my heritage and one that celebrates a very important month, Black History Month.
If you guys decide to attempt this recipe, I would love to know your thoughts and feel free to share your result on Instagram and tag me (@muriellebanackissa).
Have a lovely day!
Discover more of my childhood classics: