Hey guys, let me tell you this, you know how some people eagerly wait for summer for the produce, vacations and warm weather.
Yes, that’s me. It is not the same with hubby; all he looks forward to is these leafy greens. Yep. He was raised on Njama Njama and fufu corn and guess what? He has been eating these greens almost everyday for the past two weeks. You think he would be sick of it by now but Nooooo…. He wants more. Someone help! Anyone???
Njama Njama (that’s how it is referred to in Cameroon) is one of the most popular vegetables in Cameroon especially in the North West Region and to a lesser extent in Nigeria and Kenya- sometimes referred to as African nightshade and huckleberry. Its scientific name is Solanum scabrum.
Here, in the United States, Huckleberry leaves are seasonal, they blossom this time of the year. So now is the best time to enjoy or get your hands on it. A good place to start would be the farmers market, ask the Asian farmers they sometimes do carry it.
Your best bet would be to grow it – it is highly nutritious and you can eat the stems and leaves too. They have a pleasant flavor and slightly bitter to taste. One farmer, in the farmers market mentioned that they drink the water from the boiled leaves for medicinal purposes in East and South East Asia.
If you cannot lay your hands on nightshade, these are good substitutes: Swiss chard they are UH-mazing – love it! Kale, or even spinach, to be honest, this is what I use most of the time.
There are several ways of making this vegetable stew- all you need is a few ingredients; onion, tomatoes, oil, and bouillon cubes (powder). If you want to make it more fancy you can add crayfish, smoked chicken, more seasonings or even egusi. I made it very simple without all the other embellishments because that is how hubby likes it – rustic.
This exotic African stir fry is usually paired with fufu corn (polenta) or some would refer to it as ugali a really bland yet filling starchy accompaniment to the vegetable. I included my version of making fu fu corn – there are several ways of making it. Let me know if there is a better alternative (this is my weakness).
- 1 medium onion sliced
- 5-6 fresh tomatoes chopped
- ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 5 pounds Nightshade, kale, water crest or 3 pounds frozen kale or spinach.
- ½ -1 cup canola oil (palm oil)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1-teaspoon paprika
- ½ pound chopped smoked turkey/fish
- 1-teaspoon paprika (optional)
- 1-tablespoon bouillon powder or Maggie cube (optional)
- 1-2 scotch bonnet or habanera pepper
- 1 pound finely ground corn flour
- 4-5 cups water.
- 2 teaspoon salt (optional)
- Blanche vegetables in hot water for until wilted – about 2-3 minutes. Remove and place in cold water to prevent the leaves from cooking further. Drain and squeeze out water from the vegetables. Set aside
- Heat palm oil or canola oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat until hot.
- Add onions, lightly sauté onions until it is wilted about 2-3 minutes. Add tomatoes, scotch bonnet pepper and bouillon, continue cooking
- Scraping any browned bits off the bottom of the pot. You may add these optional ingredients now, paprika, smoked turkey, cray fish or smoked fish and proceed with cooking, occasionally stirring for about 10 minutes.
- Finally add vegetable , cook for about 2-3 minutes. Adjust seasonings and turn off the heat.
- Salt lightly
- Fufu corn
- Add about 4 cups of water to a heavy large saucepan. Add 2 teaspoons of salt. Gradually whisk in the cornmeal and keep stirring with a wooden spoon until it comes to a boil.
- Reduce the heat to low and cook until the mixture thickens and the cornmeal is tender, stirring often, about 10-15 minutes . You may add some more water if desired. Turn off the heat. Scoop out balls with a small bowl – shake and form a ball by roll it around. Or place on a saran wrap plastic( I have been told several times not to do this – health wise so be mindful of it)