Spicy Njangsang Sauce
Cooking alongside my mother as a young gal and cooking with mother as a woman. Cooking for a big family of ten or more, cooking for four. Years apart but the memories will last a lifetime. A couple of weeks ago, the parents visited Milwaukee for the first time since we got married. Not ashamed to say I was trying to impress my mother with my cooking but I know I don’t stand a chance when it comes to our traditional African dishes. All I can do is watch closely, take notes, recreate and sometimes put my own twist to the dish.
Husband and father were catching up while enjoying his home brewed American Wheat; from grains to glass. I was spending some well needed time with my mother, whipping up her delectable Djangsang Sauce with Tilapia.
Growing up my mom cooked for my dad, …… always. Every single meal. She still does that today and LOVES doing it.
Like her, I absolutely love cooking for my family but nothing stops my husband from making his mean chili or signature breakfast for dinner waffles when I need a break. I chuckled when I remembered our conversation before the parents visited. Apparently my father told my husband his place wasn’t in the kitchen. Won’t delve into roles today but lets just say this is a new era and we’ll leave it at that.
So back to my mother’s Djangsa Sauce. Djangsa seeds are round oily seeds typically used in west African cooking. They are not only used for their distinct aroma but also as a thickener for stews and soups. A trip to a Cameroonian , Nigerian, Ghanaian or other west African grocery stores will be your best bet for finding this exotic seed and more traditional spices used in some of my other uniquely African dishes. This recipe has been passed down from generation to generation and some of its originality lost down the road. I take a look at my ingredient list, then my mother’s , then my grandma’s in the village and I ponder how and why it grows longer and longer with every generation. My grandma could create a 5 ingredient recipe with so much ease. Why couldn’t we do the same? Curiosity, creativity, the quest for something new, something different. I definitely mean no disrespect to my mother or grandma when I put my own twist to their unique creations. It’s all about playing with new flavors.
This is my mother’s recipe. I did my best to stay true to it. Spicy, savory, flavorful, uniquely African. If there is one African dish from my tribe I would encourage anyone to try, it would be this sauce. Here, tilapia is cooked with African spices, fresh herbs, ginger and more to create those flavors that would awaken any palate regardless of where you come from. With much love from Camerooon, let me introduce to you, Djangsang sauce. Usually served with plantains, cocoyams or rice like we did here .
Spicy Djangsang sauce with rice
- 1 pound tilapia fillet
- 1/4 cup Djansang Seeds
- 1 Tablespoon ground country onion
- 1 teaspoon mbongo spice
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1/2 inch cube ginger
- 2 sprigs parsley
- 1 medium red onions ( half sliced, half to be blended)
- 1 habanero
- 1 roma tomato
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 Maggie cube
- 1 teaspoon white pepper
- 1/3 cup water
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- Slice tilapia fillets into 4 pieces. Transfer into a medium skillet or saucepan and season with salt, Maggie, white pepper, mbongo spice and country onions.
- Blend all remaining ingredients with 1/3 cup of water and add into skillet. Thoroughly mix to incorporate spices with fish.
- Bring to boil, reduce heat to a gentle simmer and cook for about 15-20 minutes.
- Meanwhile, heat oil in a small fry pan. Fry the sliced onions until they are just about brown. Pour contents of fry pan into skillet with Djangang sauce. Stir gently and let simmer for another 5 minutes.
- Serve with rice or plantains.