Thanksgiving Memories along Lake Tanganyika

Reposted for Thanksgiving 2012:
Several years ago, when still living in the big house by Lake Tanganyika, I organized a Thanksgiving celebration especially for members of the Burundian military who were so very helpful for us during those fighting years, together with a few friends who live here.

Beach house (6-sided) where I lived for 7 years until the place was sold; now I’m about a 5 min. walk away.  The dog on the right – Hindy – is a typical indigenous breed.  He’s still with us.

Putting the ingredients together was a bit of a challenge.  There are no turkeys here, so I organized to secure a bunch of wild Guinea Fowl from the nearby Rusizi Wetlands:

Guinea Fowl in the Rusizi Wetlands, about a 15 min drive down towards the Congo

The appropriate spices for turkey stuffing and for pumpkin pie do not exist, and so I made a stuffing that I learned in Kenya from my Kenyan colonial friends.  And for dessert, made a cornbread.  Burundians are not big sweets eaters, preferring fresh fruit, so we got lots of that, too.

I thought Southern-made yams with pineapple, etc, would be good, too.  But the Burundians found them too sweet!

Can’t remember what else – probably rice and lenga-lenga (amaranth) as a vegetable.

The guinea fowl were very tough but very tasty – folks here are used to tough fowl and rather like the chewing of them.

For entertainment I invited over from the village the boys drumming group – a great youth group that was organised and taught by a villager on a volunteer basis.  After their performance we gave them dinner and soda.

Boys’ drumming group from the village entertained us

Preparation, of course, took most of the day and, as usual, Omer was keen to learn new recipes

Omer preparing goodies in the Kitchen (the house has 3 split-levels)

We ate and ate and ate – and drank and drank local banana beer that was brought by one of the guests, in addition to Belgian beer.  Folks were wild about the cornbread and so Omer gave them the recipe, which is also below.

We were well guarded; the ranking officer had organized guards on the beach (in front of us) and elsewhere.  Afterwards, the guards all got something to eat and some beer.

One guard patrolled on the beach in front of the compound.

Here are all of the recipes we used that day.  It was great fun!

Colonial Kenyan Stuffed Chicken

  • 700 gm Sausage provinciale (in Bujumbura, from Boucherie Nouvelle)
  • 2 Medium Onions – finely chopped
  • 1 bn Celery – finely chopped
  • 1/3 cup Butter
  • 1 tsp Sage [dry]
  • 2 slices Brown bread
  • 4 slices White bread
  • Soften Onion & Celery in the butter
  • Remove sausage from its casing and crumble into the onion/celery – brown
  • Add Sage
  • Remove crusts from the bread
  • Cut bread into small squares
  • Put all ingredients into a bowl & mix lightly
Roast Chicken
  • 3½ kg Chicken (In Bujumbura, from Mutoyi Missionaries)
  • Stuffing (above)
  •  Wash chicken very well inside and out
  • Lightly spoon stuffing into body of the chicken – do not push! The stuffing will expand
  • Sew chicken closed – or use pins to close firmly
  • Stuff Brest, spooning stuffing lightly in
  • Sew breast closed or use pins
  • Rub all over with lard or unsalted butter
  • Pin or tie legs and wings to the body
  • Cover – without closing – with a piece of foil
  • Place in an over at 220C for 30 minutes
  • Then reduce heat to 170C for 2.5-3 hours
  • Baste constantly throughout cooking!
  • When done, remove chicken to a platter and let it rest at least half an hour before cutting and removing stuffing
  • Now, you can make the gravy, using the drippings left in the baking pan:
  • liver, gizzard, heart, neck, feet & head of the chicken
  • 2 med onions – sliced
  • 6 cloves
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 small red pepper, whole (don’t cut!)
  • 4 T parsley
  • 3-4 cups Water
  • Salt & pepper, to taste
  • Remove liver, gizzard, heart, neck, feet & head – wash
  • Put meat into a pot with approximately 1 liter of water
  • Add all of the remaining ingredients except the liver; put the liver to one side
  • Bring to boil; reduce heat & simmer until tender – 1- 1½ hours
  • Add more water, as/if needed
  • Add liver for the last 5-10 minutes
  • Remove meat from the neck and chop
  • Give the head and feet to the dogs
  • Throw away the red pepper
 Once chicken is removed from roasting pan:
  • Remove drippings, retaining about ½ cup in the roasting pan
  • Add about 2 T. flour to the oil, and cook while stirring all the while
  • When thick – add chicken broth very slowly, stirring all the while to avoid lumps
  • Remove to a small casserole and simmer, adding more liquid if necessary
Niki’s Yum-Yum Cornbread
Wet Ingredients
  • 3-4 eggs
  • ½ cup butter
  • 3 cups milk
  • 3 Tbsp vinegar
Dry Ingredients
  • 3 cups cornmeal
  • 1 cup white flour
  • 4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 2 tsp. sugar
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. chili powder
Added Ingredients
  • 1½ cups fresh sweet corn
  • 1 green pepper
  • leeks (or a medium red onion)
  • ½ – 1 cup grated, sharp cheese
  • ¼ cup chopped parsley
  • Heat oven to 450
  • Sift & mix dry ingredients in one bowl
  • Melt butter
  • Beat eggs in a second bowl
  • Add the other wet ingredients, including melted butter
  • If using fresh corn: boil ears of corn in unsalted water until tender
  • Cut corn from the cob
  • Chop green pepper into very small pieces & lightly sauté in a little oil – add to the corn
  • Chop leeks into very small pieces – add to the corn-green pepper mixture
  • Combine dry and wet ingredients just until mixed – don’t over-mix!
  • Fold the corn-green pepper-leek mixture into the batter
  • Lightly grease a pan that is 21 x 29 cm – a preheated, cast iron frying pan/etc. is excellent
  • Pour in mixture
  • Bake in middle of the oven until golden brown – about ½ hour
While still HOT in the pan:
  • Sprinkle with grated cheese mixed with a little chopped parsley, if desired
  • Allow cornbread to cool a few minutes & cut into squares
Candied Sweet Potatoes – Southern Style
  • 2 kg Sweet Potatoes
  • 1 med Fresh pineapple
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 6 Tbsp Butter
  • Salt
  • Pepper
1.Clean but do not peel sweet potatoes
2.Boil until soft
3.Peel, chop & put back into casserole
4.Cut pineapple into bite-size pieces – add to sweet potatoes
5.Add brown sugar
6.Add salt & pepper to taste
7.Mix altogether
8.Add a little water and/or more butter if too dry

Some of the guests – military, friends and neighbours.  Boys’ drummer group from the village performs in the background.

November is usually the best month to see the Congo – since it is the rainy season, the air and sky are much clearer:

From the compound’s lookout – Uvira, a lake-side town in the Congo, is straight ahead; the Rusizi Wetlands is to the right

Bujumbura at twilight

Bujumbura at twilight, photo taken in front of the compound (Credit: Michael Foley Photography)

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, Burundi, Cuisine, Food, Indigenous crops & medicinal plants, Living here, Recipes, War Games and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Thanksgiving Memories along Lake Tanganyika

  1. paoyo says:

    stuff chicken really completes the thanksgiving all over the word 🙂 it is also use i mh country as lechon business


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  5. Heidi says:

    Thank you in advance!!! 🙂


    • dianabuja says:

      Heidi, I am putting up a blog with the recipe in it and some other information on lenga-lenga. Should finish it over the weekend. Thanks for your interest!


      • Heidi says:

        Ooooo YAY, thank you SO much!!! I will definitely look for it!

        In my previous internet searching I read someone say not to re-heat it, because the nitrates turn into nitrites and can upset the stomach? Have you heard that?


  6. Heidi says:

    Hello! 🙂

    I was wondering if you would pretty please share a recipe for lengalenga (and which kale you would suggest to duplicate here in the US?) My wonderful MIL in Bukavu would make it lick-the-bowl yummy, but I only know that she used bouillon. I would SO appreciate it!!! 🙂


  7. yolanda says:

    i love when you put burundi-possible recipes!


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