When my neighbor Jonathan told me he craves Kisamvu for weeks after his visits to Tanzania, I knew I had to try it. Kisamvu is just another word for cassava leaves, but Jonathan tells me he uses spinach whenever he’s in the states and the taste is a very good approximation.
Jonathan gave me the very recipe they use at the orphanage he visited in Tanzania, called the Janada Batchelor Foundation for Children. While there, he films documentary footage to help promote the good work they JBFC does with his production company called RTC Pictures…
What a fun gig!
Now about that recipe…
There are no exact measurements, although I did have the pleasure of watching the “Mamas” make a huge batch of kisamvu in his video footage (Mamas are the ladies in charge of the children). They do everything from build and stoke the kitchen fires (which are built under three large stones. The stones hold the pot). They also chop wood and cook the food.
And the food comes straight from their gardens, moments earlier. Nothing in the world fresher than that.
The flavor of Kisamvu is slightly nutty (more so if you add the full amount of peanut butter), with a creamy softness, thanks to the addition of coconut milk in the end (the coconut milk hints at the Indian influence that perseveres in Tanzania even today). It’d make a great side dish with chicken and rice.
1 pepper, sliced
3 carrots, chopped
1 red onion, sliced
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 bunches spinach, cleaned and sliced very thinly
1/4-1/2 cup natural peanut butter, to taste
1/4 cup coconut milk
salt & pepper
garnish with crushed peanuts, as desired
Going to Tanzania has never been easier. For starters, fry the pepper, carrot, and onion in vegetable oil until softened. (Meanwhile work on cleaning and slicing up that spinach!). Check a couple of those carrots and make sure they are tender before you proceed.
Next, stir in the peanut butter.
Mix until it coats the veggies evenly, then add on the spinach.
(Note, if you are actually using cassava leaves, they are much more fibrous than spinach; you’ll need to boil them first).
Cook down the spinach, then stir in the coconut milk, salt, and pepper.
You can continue cooking to dry it out somewhat (this would be more traditional), or serve it wet, as I have done.
… a sense of adventure?
Now then… how about a climb to Mount Kilimanjaro?