Congolese Food Festival: A gastronomical delight

The fascinating symphony of food and music, at the recently organized Congolese food festival, made the pleasant Delhi evening truly special. Hosted by the Embassy of Democratic Republic of Congo in India, it was a wonderful opportunity to discover, appreciate and explore different aspects of the Congolese culture through its food, music and dance. Food from several provinces of the Democratic Republic of Congo was served in the festival. This included Kinshasa, Kwilu, Kongo Central, Equateur, Kasaï-Oriental, Kivu, Katanga, and several others. Traditional recipes from different regions provided an eclectic range of cuisine to food lovers.

Inaugurating the wonderful evening, H.E. Mossi Nyamale Rosette, Ambassador of Democratic Republic of Congo in her speech said, “This kind of event testifies the existence of excellent relations of friendship and cooperation that unite different peoples around the world. It is an opportunity that allows us to come closer to benefit each other, by a better knowledge and mutual understanding of our different cultures.” She also conveyed the Congolese government’s gratitude to the Republic of India for the excellent bilateral relationship with Democratic Republic of Congo.

In the Democratic Republic of Congo, food is totally organic consisting of fish, meat, caterpillars that are rich in protein and vegetables, accompanied by the fufu, plantains, chikwange and rice. Congolese meals often consist of a starchy ingredient, cassava or corn flour called fufu or ugali along with vegetables and meat in the form of a stew like cassava leaves, tshitekutaku (a spinach-like plant), okra and mushrooms. A wide range of crops are grown in Congo, including maize, rice, cassava, sweet potatoes, yam, taro, plantain, tomatoes, pumpkin etc and together with other regional food items create an interesting and eclectic variety of cuisine.

Food items that were generously served to the invited guests in the festival included smoked fish with pumpkin seed, cassava and maize flour, roselle leaves, missile, sweet potatoes, beans, rice, wild spinach stew, butterfly larvae, mutton head and intestine, caterpillar, fingerlings, mashed bananas, braised chicken and several other traditional Congo food items.

Renowned culinary historian, Ashish Chopra, whose favourite dishes in the festival were caterpillar and pork troters said, “Congo cuisine has traces of french Arabic and Asian influence. The food looks good and is delicious. As there are different ethnic communities in DR Congo, their cuisine is equally diverse. Congolese cuisine is dominated by farmland products together with meat and fish that makes it extremely nutritive. For example, edible caterpillars, which are quite popular, have high levels of protein and micronutrients like iron and zinc.”

The festival was attended several ambassadors, seasoned diplomats, senior officials and Congolese people here in India.

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