AFRICAN CORN AND PEANUT PATTIES
A Cook's Guide to Grains
by Jenni Muir
Africans use a wide variety of dark greens in the manner of spinach. Morogo and 'African spinach' are terms that cover a group of leaves that may include those cut from pumpkin and sweet potato plants, as well as silverbeet and edible wild greens such as buffalo-thorn. Peanuts, or groundnuts, are technically not nuts at all but the seeds of a legume similar to soy. They are characteristic of West African cuisine, having been taken there from their native South America by the Portuguese. Ironically, it was the Africans who took them to the USA.
• 50g/1/4 cup samp or hominy
• 75g/1/3 cup coarse cornmeal
• 150g/5oz spinach leaves, shredded
• 1/4 tsp ground turmeric
• 1/4 tsp salt
• a sprinkle of chilli flakes
• 275ml/1 1/4 cups boiling water
• 25g/1/4 cup chopped masted and salted peanuts
• a little butter and olive or vegetable oil, for frying
Soak the samp or hominy in a bowl of cold water overnight or for at least 4 hours. Drain and rinse.
In a large, heavy saucepan, combine the soaked corn, the cornmeal, spinach, turmeric, salt and chilli flakes. Stir in the boiling water and place the saucepan over a low heat. Cook, stirring frequently, for 20-30 minutes, adding more hot water to the pan as necessary.
When the mixture is very thick, remove it from the heat. Stir in the peanuts and pepper to taste. Set aside until the mixture is cool enough to handle. Shape it into patties using floured hands, then fry in a little butter and oil until browned on both sides.
• Instead of shaping the mixture into patties, you could leave it soft and serve it as a textured alternative to cornmeal dishes such as polenta.
• The corn and nuts complement each other to form a complete protein dish, so this recipe can be used as the base of a vegetarian meal.
• Serve with a bright-tasting, chilli-laden tomato sauce or relish, with or without some barbecued meats and poultry.