Hi! Today I want to show you another dish I made that is very popular in the Central African Republic: Kanda. I made this dish when I made the Fufu, so I’d have something to dip it into.
Pumpkin seeds is one of the key ingredients in Kanda. I was very intrigued by this as I though that pumpkins were originally from North America. But I was wrong! It turns out that that pumpkins and squash come from a family called “Cucurbitaceous” and it has over 700 different varieties! And so there are some of these that are native to Africa! One example of these is what is called the “kiffy Squash” a sort of greenish looking pumpkin:
This is poster with some types of pumpkins found here in America. Sadly I could not find a poster with the African varieties:
A was curious to see where pumpkins were grown the most… I thought it was here because of Halloween but to my surprise it was China! This is a graph from a 2021 research paper called “Pumpkin (Cucurbita spp.): A Crop to Mitigate Food and Nutritional Challenges” from Malaysia. You can find the whole paper HERE. (You will probably need to sign up to get access to see it for free.)
Yeah… fascinating huh? Well it is recipe time! I wanted to say that these are the most tasty meatballs I’ve ever had! The pumpkin seeds replace the need for bread crumbs and the okra with its natural sticky juices binds the whole thing together… perfectly! I adapted a recipe from Tara found HERE.
- 2 cups pumpkin seeds shelled and lightly toasted
- 1 pound of ground beef
- 3 pieces of scallions chopped
- 4 garlic cloves chopped
- 6 small okra chopped (all included but stem)
- 1 jar of your favorite basic tomato pasta sauce (I would say keep away form strong ones like 4 cheese or spicy Italian sausage to maintain the flavor of the pumpkin seeds and okra.). You could also make your own tomato sauce from scratch of course!
- Cut the scallions and okra in smaller pieces.
- Peel the garlic cloves and cut in half.
3. Place them with the pumpkin seeds in a food processor or blender. ( I added the garlic at the end.)
4. Mix it with the ground beef.
5. Add seasoning… salt and pepper to taste.
6. Place tomato sauce in a deep pan and bring to boiling point. Place the meatballs in it. Cook throughly.
7. Serve with Fufu! If you don’t know what Fufu see previous post. You can also eat them with rice.
Wondering what the drink is? It is cold hibiscus tea! It is a popular cold drink in various countries in Africa.
I really loved the flavor of these and the way the okra binds it all together because of its sticky texture. The pumpkin seeds are a healthier option than bread crumbs too and has a very particular crunchiness to it.