Sunday, April 6, 2008

Sautéed Ndagala (Whitebait) in Tomato Sauce

Ndagala are small fish that are unique to Lake Tanganyika and are a favorite ingredient in Burundian cuisine. They are 2-3" long, and are sold either fresh and dried. The most popular way of eating them is simply by frying – whole – in a little oil and eating with a little lemon juice or hot sauce. As a main dish, they are most commonly cooked in a tomato sauce and eaten with 'pâte' – a thick porridge made of manioc (cassava) flour.


2 T Palm oil
250 g Ndagala (left whole)
2 Onions (chopped)
4 Garlic (chopped) – not used in rural areas
3 Large tomatoes (chopped)
1 Hot pepper (whole)
½ L Water
Salt to taste

  • Heat palm oil over high heat, to allow sediments to burn off *
  • Add ndagala and sautée until well browned – reserve in another pan
  • Sautee onions & garlic, then add tomatoes and cook until a nice sauce is formed
  • Add ½ L of water & the whole hot pepper
  • Cook sauce down until it is of the thickness you want
  • Add salt to taste
  • Add sautéed ndagala,
  • Cook until well mixed
* Palm oil is made in hand presses in the villages and contains quite a bit of sediment, which must be cooked off prior to adding ingredients.

To Serve:
  • Make a pot of 'pâte' – a stiff porridge made of manioc flour (method described in pictures, below)
  • Mound the pâte in the middle of a round tray
  • Pour ndagala sauce over and around the pâte
  • Place tray in the middle of a small table
  • Everyone sits around the table and eats with a large spoon from the dish
  • Any leftovers are for breakfast the next morning
  • Some villagers use banana leaves as the tray – the leaf then being fed to the animals
  • Voila! No dirty dishes!

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