(Democratic Republic of Congo)
LIBOKE YA MBIKA
(Chicken with Pumpkin Seed Flour)
¾ pound boneless chicken parts
1 garlic clove
1 small onion
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 bay leaf
2 cups vegetable stock
1 cup pumpkin-seed flour* or almond or all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ginger
½ teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon parsley
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
½ pound fresh banana leaves**
* = Finding pumpkin-seed flour in stores can be difficult. It can be ordered on line.
** = Finding fresh banana leaves is impossible whether you live Fargo, North Dakota or even in my fair city, Poway, California. In this case, buy the frozen banana leaves from specialty markets. If that too is impossible, use tin foil instead. Life can be hard, sorry.
aluminum foil, about 10 square feet
Serves 4. Takes 2 hours 20 minutes.
Cut chicken into ½” cubes. Mince garlic clove and onion. Add olive oil, chicken, garlic, onion, and bay leaf to 1st large pot. Sauté for 5 minutes at medium-high heat or until garlic and onion soften. Stir frequently. Add 2 cups vegetable stock or enough to covered ingredients in pot. Bring to boil using high heat. Stir occasionally. Remove chicken. Shred or crumble chicken. Reserve broth with garlic and onion. Discard bay leaf.
While vegetable stock boils, add pumpkin-seed flour, ginger, nutmeg, parsley, and red pepper flakes to mixing bowl. Gradually ladle stock from pot to mixing bowl. Mix with hands. Keep adding water until you a firm but pliable dough. Add chicken. Knead dough once more.
Cut banana leaves into 6″ squares. (Use aluminum foil as a substitute.) Add 1½ tablespoons of the chicken/onion dough to each square. Close banana leaves around dough to make a banana-leaf ball. (If banana leaves don’t close well, wrap banana leaves with foil.)
Preheat oven to 225 degrees. Add enough water to pot to cover the banana-leaf balls you will be making. Bring to boil using high heat. Add banana-leaf balls to pot. Let boil using high heat for 45 minutes. (Add water as necessary to cover banana-leaf balls.) Remove banana-leaf balls. Place these balls on cookie sheet. Bake in oven at 225 degrees for 15 minutes to remove moisture from the dough inside the banana leaves.
Serve to appreciative guests. If they give you any guff at all about this magnificent creation of yours, zap them with your sonic obliterator. You don’t need that kind of negativity in your life.
1) As a chef, you stimulate your creative forces by creating one dazzling dish after another.
2) Cooking is also immensely therapeutic. It simply gives you no time to dwell on all the woes in your life. Those moments where you failed at something and those times where strife entered your life all melt away when you assemble your latest culinary masterpiece. You will lift your face to the heavens and thunder, “Yes. Cooking is good. Life is good. Yes, yes, yes.”
3) Then there are those other culinary moments, the time things go wrong, when guests complain, when the red mist descends upon you. You must disintegrate that stew that accidentally got two cups of salt instead of 2 teaspoons. Or even those cases where you want to off uncouth guests who complained you didn’t use pumpkin flour or fresh banana leaves in your Liboke Ya Mbika.
4) But murder is wrong. You’ve known that most of your life. That’s a major reason why you became a cook. All your murderous impulses sublimate themselves in the pounding of the bread dough, in the slicing of the onion, in and the grating of the cheese brick.
5) But yet some guest will carp over the tin foil you used. You yearn to do him in. Of course, the police will find the guest’s’ body. Unless the officer on the spot is also a cook and knows what you went through, it’s best not to leave a body behind
6) This downward spiral explains why all kitchens carry a sonic obliterator. The sonic obliterator, well, completely obliterates the offending oaf. No body. No jail time. Easy peasy.
7) But in your heart of hearts, you really don’t want to obliterate rude guests. No! Simply obliterate that glass of wine they’re holding. That’ll get their attention. I guarantee they’ll stop complaining. Serenity will return to your kitchen. The now quiet guests will tuck into your Liboke Ya Mbika and, lo and behold, notice how absolutely tasty it really is. “Why, this is the food of the gods,” they’ll say. You will become their best friend. They will become your pals. Together, you will solve all the problems of the world. Life is good. Life is good. And we will all owe it to your judicious use of a sonic obliterator. Now you know.
Paul De Lancey, The Comic Chef, Ph.D.
My cookbook, Following Good Food Around the World, with its 180 wonderful recipes, my newest novel, Do Lutheran Hunks Eat Mushrooms, a hilarious apocalyptic thriller, and all my other books, are available on amazon.com.