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Inventive recipes needed for aid worker stranded in Central Africa!!

  • m

So I just got to my new work station, which is the very north of Congo, in the bush. This is by far the bushiest of all places I have ever worked, if you'll pardon the term :) (Minus the wi-fi access and satellite tv in our guesthouse!) So, I was warned to bring food provisions with me because I wouldn't find much. This is what I'm working with:

Can find on-site:
- eggs
- tiny tomatoes
- cassava leaves (and cassava which I'm not crazy about)
- palm oil
- onions
- avocados
- hot chillies
- plantains and bananas

Brought with me:
- olive oil
- pasta
- canned tomatoes
- garlic
- Kalamata olives
- capers
- pickles
- mustard
- white wine vinegar
- some dry French sausage
- dry lentils
- canned chickpeas

So I am seeing a lot of variations on spaghetti marinara and puttanesca in my future. I was thinking lentil soup, but no carrots or celery! I look to you Chowhounds for some help! What creative things can I do with what I have access to? thanks!!


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  1. No access to meat or any seasonings? You can do a sausage & egg frittata; a lentil or chickpea stew with the sausage, onions & tomatoes; poached eggs in tomato sauce with chiles (if you like spicy); avocado, tomato and olive salad with a dressing made with your white wine vingear, mustard, garlic and olive oil and of course, roasted plantains/bananas in their skins...off the top of my head....

    1. Can you get access to any butter? If so, give this lentil soup recipe a whirl: http://culinspiration.wordpress.com/2...

      I imagine you could sub a little sausage for the bacon with OK results. You can skip the celery tops; they were not included in the original recipe from my cooking teacher.


      -deviled eggs (eggs, oil, pickles, mustard
      -eggs poached in tomato sauce
      -if you can access rice, you can make banana rice (basically banana sauteed in oil or butter, then cooked with white rice and water long enough to steam the rice).
      -stewed chickpeas with tomatoes (e.g., http://www.ehow.com/how_2131015_quick...


      What do locals cook at home?

      1. Chickpeas can be roasted by themselves with just some oil, salt and chilies, can me mashed into a simple hummus, or combined with eggs, a grain and seasoning of your choice into a patty

        Tomatoes, onions and chilies could yield a salsa-ish type condiment - make cassava or plantain chips to accompany it, plus you have avocados and garlic for guac

        I don't know if this would work but you could try subbing plantains for potatoes in a tortilla espanola (with oil, eggs and onions you are good to go)

        I know you said you don't care for cassava, but maybe in a cake...?
        Cassava cake (but you didn't list all ingredients required - if you happen upon these, this doesn't sound bad)

        One more cassava recipe (just in case you acquire a taste for them!

        This plantain recipe calls for butter, I have no idea how detrimental subbing butter would be to the taste/final product - it could be a low cost risk though if you have an abundance of plantains. This is commonly served with avocados, eggs and sausage - which you have :


        Good luck, I'll keep thinking/searching for more ideas - add any other ingredients you may have available :)

        1 Reply
        1. I am from cassava-land. Cassava can be really nice boiled then fried and served with a sauce. Brings back great memories.

          1. Google "Brazilian Recipes". They use palm oil, cassava (aka manioc), plantains, all your familiar stuff. You'll feel right at home.

            1. Ooh, how about some sort of variation on lentil tacos? You can actually make your own flour tortillas with a little flour, oil, water, and a rolling pin.


              If you can't get flour, try serving over white rice instead.

              1. These are all great ideas! No butter or dairy here, I think we can find powdered milk though. And I was very happy to find tomato paste! No fresh tomatoes. Not much meat, you can find goat from time to time but in huge pieces for grilling rather than cooking with, and chicken but it's rather stringy. No seasonings, other than what I brought with me (dry basil, curry powder, pepper, I think maybe I was smart enough to bring herbes de provence). Flour must be around, as you can get dry bread here.

                I totally thought of deviled eggs, that I will do for sure! I also like eating the deviled egg mixture on bread, that's a classic snack in the motherland (Cz Rep). The poached eggs are a good idea too, I have never tried that. I am down for lentil soup/stew, but as mentioned have no carrots or celery which I always consider fundamental to lentils, and to stew. I will definitely try a spin on that lentil soup recipe Christina, I won't have all the spices but I do have mustard and wine vinegar which might work!

                We eat fried plantains practically ever meal (we have staff preparing local food for us) which are fabulous! So yummy. Otherwise though it's boiled cassava and boiled cassava leaves, all the time. Which is old already and I've only been here 3 days!

                thanks a million for all these ideas, it will already add a lot of variety to our diet out here!

                1 Reply
                1. re: mp413

                  If the flour idea doesn't pan out, a flourless crepe or really thinned down omelette could work for either sweet (banana crepe) or savory (chickpea/veggie wrap) applications. :) Good luck!

                2. When I see your ingredients, I see pasta puttanesca (minus the anchovies, of course). I would also make pasta with chickpeas made with those fresh tomatoes, garlic and lots of black pepper.