Monday, January 3, 2011

Foods: Using the Fruit of the Palms

Among the coastal and tropical regions of Angola, palm trees can be found in abundance.  Often locally called the Molala, these trees grow between 5 to 7 meters (15 -21 feet), but sometimes up to 15 meters (45 feet) in height.

Beyond the aesthetic views, rural Angolans value the tree for its fruit.  The fruits are small, oval and somewhat pear-shaped, ripening from green through orange to glossy dark brown. A thin layer of sweet-tasting, ginger-flavoured, spongy, fibrous pulp surrounds the seed. Fruits are produced in large quantities, up to 2000 per tree, each taking two years to mature and up to two further years to fall. 

A local and national dish called 'muamba' is made from the fruit. The palm nuts are boiled, pounded, mixed with water, sieved again and then boiled to become a 'sauce-like' consistency. It is usually served with funge, a manioc puree and is often served with fish on occasions.

Additionally, the fruit and sap of the palm tree is used to make wine and locally home-brewed beer, often called 'cuca'.

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