A Taste of Liberia
By EB Moore, KF12
To help wrap up food month at Kiva, I wanted to share some of what I’ve learned about Liberian food. Liberia I’ve been here for a month now and have gotten the opportunity to try a number of different local dishes. I wasn’t sure what to expect before my departure, but I’ve been pleasantly surprised!
Liberian cuisine consists of a lot of rice and various forms of cassava (fufu, dumboy, etc.) as a base with a vegetable and meat sauce or soup served along side. Some popular vegetable sauces include palm butter, palava sauce, and potato greens. Pepper soup, goat soup, and groundnut (peanut) soup are also widely available. An interesting aspect of Liberian food is that due to Liberia’s heritage from former American slaves, much of the food has an almost “Southern” influence. It’s possible to find fried chicken, collard greens, and an array of baked goods.
One dish I’ve had that has stood out to me is potato greens, made from the leaves of the sweet potato plant. I was lucky enough to be offered a home-cooked version that was wonderful! Potato greens also contain a lot of great nutrients and vitamins, which made me feel less guilty about devouring the entire dish. I’ve adapted a recipe below:
Liberian Potato Greens (Prep time: 20 minutes, Cooking time: 1 hour, Serves 4)
4 C (3 bunches) fresh potato greens (de-stemmed and cleaned)
2 medium onion (chopped)
1 C cooking oil
2 tsp seasoned salt
1 1/2 tsp black pepper
Meat of your choice (cooked – fried chicken, fish, or shrimp would work well)
1 or 2 hot peppers (optional)
Cooked plain rice
1. In a pan or bowl of water, add the potato greens and a bit of baking soda. Rub the leaves as if you were washing clothes – the water may turn green. Wring the leaves and transfer to a dry area. (This process breaks the greens apart and allows them to cook more easily.)
2. Heat the oil in a deep, large cooking pan on medium. Add a little baking soda, potato greens (carefully – if they’re still a little wet the oil may pop), onion, peppers, pepper and seasoned salt and stir. Cook for 20 minutes, stirring to prevent burning.
3. Reduce the heat to medium-low and stir frequently for another 20 minutes. Add meat (pre-cooked and seasoned to your liking) and simmer for another 15 minutes.
4. Taste the greens and flavor with salt and pepper, as needed. Remove excess oil if desired. Serve hot over cooked rice and enjoy!
EB Moore is a Kiva Fellow currently working with Local Enterprise Assistance Program (LEAP) in Liberia. She is a huge foodie and loves experimenting with new dishes!