The Dry Season in Burundi – Time to Celebrate! II of III (Rural Notables – An Engagement)

Revised 4 July 2014

When Yvonne, the daughter of my cook/paravet,  became engaged to one of our staff, a huge celebration was organized in the compound.  During this ceremony a dowry is given to the future bride’s family by the future groom’s family and if accepted, then the marriage can be planned.

Below are photos and descriptions of the event, together with the following recipe, which is given at the bottom of the blog. >

Sombé – Manioc Leaves & Goat Meat in a Hot Sauce

Evonne, on left, with her father behind her and future father-in-law standing at the extreme right. Her sister, brothers and a cousin are next to her.

Yvonne, on left, with her father behind her and future father-in-law standing at the extreme right. Her sister, brothers and a cousin are next to her.

About thirty family members from upcountry came down a few days before the event to help with preparations of the feast that would take place.  Since Omer, Yvonne’s father, is a cook, he supervised the cooking and organized the kitchen work according to different tasks.

Preparing green bananas for matoke, which is a vegetable stew

Preparing green bananas for matoke, which is a vegetable stew

The salad table, where plates and plates of fresh salads are being prepared

The salad table, where plates and plates of fresh salads are being prepared

Vegetable preparation table

Vegetable preparation table

I contributed several goats to the celebration; the following two photos are not from the engagement preparation, but show how goats are hung and then butchered.

Evonne's brother and cousin hang a goat for Christmas.

Yvonne’s brother and cousin hang a goat

Butchering, village style, by a couple of the staff

Butchering, village style, by a couple of the staff

In the middle is the 'kitchen' for beans, rice, plantains, & greens. Dishes that have cooked are on the table to the right.

In the middle is the ‘kitchen’ for beans, rice, plantains, & greens. Dishes that have cooked are on the table to the left.

Getting ready for the event are Omer, father of Evonne (r) and Deo, father of the groom-to-be (l), with a mutural friend

Getting ready for the event are Omer, father of Yvonne (r – still in cooking apron) and Deo, father of the groom-to-be (l), with a mutual friend between them.

So, now it’s time for the celebration to begin!  And that calls for bringing in the drummers from the nearby village.  They are young boys who are trained in traditional drumming techniques by a volunteer drummer.  It’s like kids going off to practice in a band, but here there is also singing and dancing involved.  It is very physical!

Acrobatics

Acrobatics in the compound.

Several of these boys were killed in rebel attacks near us, soon after this event

Several of these boys were killed in rebel attacks near us, soon after this event took place.

The preparations for the engagement are as much fun as the event itself; here is the main dish that was prepared >

Sombé – Manioc Leaves & Goat Meat in a Hot Sauce (Burundi; Rwanda; Eastern Congo)

Manioc – known also as cassava or yucca – originated in South America – probably Brazil – and due to its exceptionally hardy nature and ability to grow in poor soils and with little care, spread throughout the tropics and eventually on to the South Pacific – and then to all of tropical Africa. Both the tubers and leaves are eaten.

Sombé, the dish explained here, is popular in central Africa. It contains the young, green leaves of manioc (cassava; yucca – Manihot esculenta). The leaves have high amounts of Vitamins A and C; ½ a cup of cooked sombé provides half of the daily Vitamin A requirements of a young child. Manioc leaves also contain iron, calcium, magnesium and potassium – all very important minerals in central Africa because very little meat is eaten.

The tubers of manioc are also an important source of carbohydrates and moderate protein and are the 3rd most important staple food in Burundi, after bananas and sweet potatoes.

After cleaning, the coarse leaves are either chopped fine or – as here in Burundi – are pounded in a large, wooden mortar with a long pestle.

The following recipe for sombé is a bit time consuming and elaborate, and is therefore usually made for a celebration.

Ingredients

  • 1 kg Young [less than 2 months] manioc leaves (can use mustard or another coarse green), coarsely chopped
  • ½ kg goat meat, bone-in and chopped into small pieces
  • 2 lg onions, coarsely chopped
  • 2 green pepper, coarsely chopped
  • ½ kg intoré (indigenous eggplants), coarsely chopped – or use ‘domestic’ eggplants
  • 1 leek, coarsely chopped
  • 1-2 red (hot) peppers – whole
  • ½ c finely ground dry peanuts – skins off
  • 3 T palm oil
  • salt & pepper, to taste

Method

  • Clean manioc leaves & remove from stocks
  • Pound manioc leaves, leek & onion in a mortar until completely broken down [can use a food processor]
  • Put in a large casserole & cover with water
  • Cook about 40 minutes
  • Add meat, oil, eggplant pieces, green pepper & red (hot) pepper
  • Add more water to cover, if necessary
  • Continue cooking about 1 hour or until meat is tender
  • Add ground peanuts
  • Cook for 2 minutes only
  • Add salt and pepper to taste

To Serve

The traditional method of serving and eating is as follows:

  • Mound rice or manioc pate on a very large tray
  • Put little mounds of sombé greens around this
  • Place meat chunks all around
  • Pour sauce from the casserole over the top
  • Place tray in the middle of a table
  • Invite guests to sit, giving each a large spoon
  • Guests eat out of the common dish, selecting what they wish
  • Have a large bowl of clean water beside, for people to wash their hands as necessary
  • Follow the meal with millet beer, banana beer or banana wine and fruit

Rice, manioc pate, beans cooked in a tomato sauce with eggplants, and hot sauce are common accompaniments; fried plantains and fried manioc may be prepared as side dishes.

Part I of this series of blogs can be found here >

The Dry Season in Burundi – Time to Celebrate! I of III (The Poor)

Go on to this link, for the ceremony and what followed – The Dry Season in Burundi – Time to Celebrate! II of III (Rural Notables – An Engagement, Pt.ii)

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About dianabuja

With a group of BaTwa (pygmy) women potters, with whom we've worked to enhance production and sales of their wonderful pots - fantastic for cooking and serving. To see the 2 blogs on this work enter 'batwa pots' into the search engine located just above this picture. Blog entries throughout this site are about Africa, as well as about the Middle East and life in general - reflecting over 35 years of work and research in Africa and the Middle East – Come and join me!
This entry was posted in Africa-Central, Africa-General, Ceremony, Cuisine, Food, Goats, Living here, Social Life and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to The Dry Season in Burundi – Time to Celebrate! II of III (Rural Notables – An Engagement)

  1. dianabuja says:

    Reblogged this on DIANABUJA'S BLOG: Africa, The Middle East, Agriculture, History and Culture and commented:

    Second of the series about dry weather celebrations, this entry about preparations for a large engagement. A recipe for the main dish is also included.

    Like

  2. Pingback: The Dry Season in Burundi – Time to Celebrate! III of III (Urban Elite – Marriages, Pt.i) « Dianabuja's Blog

  3. Pingback: The Dry Season in Burundi – Time to Celebrate! II of III (Rural Notables – An Engagement, Pt.ii) « Dianabuja's Blog

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