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Mtori Banana Soup from Tanzania

In Northern Tanzania the Green Banana or Plantain is eaten more than any other starch food and is, interestingly, the only staple food in the world that is not grain or a root vegetable. There are many variety of banana ? a plantation close to us has over thirty varieties. Many if my neighbors grow banana or plantain ? usually growing more than one variety.

I love the yellow soft Ugandan variety called Matoki. Unfortunately for me this is not preferred by the Chagga tribe, who are dominant here in Arusha. They prefer the firmer plantain called Mshali.The Banana Tree is not really a tree at all, it is a herb; in fact the worlds tallest herb. It is mainly water held together by sticky greenery. The tree takes about 18 months to grow and fruit and is simply chopped down with two or three swift chops from a sharp panga.

The tree or 'herb' produces a huge purple flower and then yields one very large crop of bananas on a single stem.The sticky white resin that bleeds from the tree and the severed stem must be avoided; should it get onto clothes it stains and does not come out. Removing the skins is an art. Many of my African friends make it look so easy, a skill gained with practice I suppose. Remember to put oil onto your hands before removing plantain skins as the resin stains your hands black and is hard work to remove.

Scrape all traces of back resin from the plantain before cooking.Mtori soup, made from plantain, is usually eaten for breakfast. Bellow is a recipe for this thick banana and meat stew.

This would usually be cooked over an open fire in a clay pot called a chungu ? all the ingredients would be cooked in the pot at the same time. Once the cooking has finished the meat would be removed, cut into small chunks [fat and gristle is not discarded] and then reheated in the soup.Mtori
1 kilo beef short ribs
2 teaspoons salt
10 Plantain [green banana] peeled and sliced
4 medium-sized (King Edward) potatoes - peeled
2 medium onions, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 Tbs. butter.Put the s ribs, enough cold water, and salt in a large casserole pot and bring to a boil over high heat. Skim the foam and scum as they rise to the surface.

Reduce the heat to low and simmer, partially covered, for 1-1/2 hours.Add the plantains, potatoes, and onions, and continue simmering for another 30 minutes, or until the meat is tender and the potatoes can be mashed.Remove the short ribs from the pot. Remove the meat from the bones and cut away the fat and gristle, and discard. Cut the meat into bite-size pieces.

Purée the soup and vegetables. Return the purée to the pot, add the meat, and stir in the butter. Adjust seasoning - Enjoy. Coconut milk is sometimes added toward the end of cooking to make the soup even richer.

.All profits from http://www.betheladventre.co.

uk go into the Patmos Community Initiative, which is a Non-Governmental Organization in Northern Tanzania - no. 11778. We are currently building a nursery school in Sokon One - Arusha. We offer and encourage voluntary positions vacations to our charitable projects. Swahili Language courses are available twice per year, in March and in November.

By: Ian Williamson

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