Friday, July 18, 2008


Also known as Kokor or npopo.

Patja is a soup that is well known by the Surinamese Bush negro population. To the rest of the Surinamees population this recipe is completely unknown and cannot be found in any of the Surinamees cookbooks.

The basis of Patja is a strong boullion which can be made with meat (red or white) or fish. Beef would be great but if you have fish available that would be great; red snapper tilapia anumara krobia kwikwi jarakaba etc. For those that don't have any of the afore mentioned tropical fish available you can try any other kind of fish. Keep in mind that salt water fish is not recommended for it will change the taste of the broth.

Patja is also delicious with any dried or smoked fish. The bouillon can also be brought up to taste with a bouillon cube or a dash of salt. Spices are not recommended except for half an onion. Another very important ingredient is grated cassava.

In Suriname they use the bitter cassava for this broth. The cassava is cleaned and washed and grated to a bitter mush. This is then put in a special long basket like container which we call a matapi. This basket is structured so that when you pull on the bottom it squeazes all of the cassava together. The liquid of the bitter cassava which is poisonous is getting squeazed out of the cassava* and a solid substance is left over. Outside of Suriname bitter cassava and matapi are usually hard to find. Sweet cassava fresh or frozen would be a good substitute even though the taste would be slightly different. If you are unable to use a matapi a clean strong dishcloth can also be used to squeeze the cassava. After five uses you might want to throw out the dishcloth. In the meantime use a centrifuge to dry the cassava. Separate the cassava in two equal parts in two clean dish cloths for balance in the centrifuge box and start spinning. You wont be able to get it as dry by squeezing it in a towel...dont forget to clean the centrifuge box before and after every use!

Once the grated cassava is dry take out the big rough pieces or put it through the grinder once more. Out of this make thick sturdy balls. If the cassava is too dry add a little bit of water. It is only supposed to have enough liquid so that it breaks apart easy enough (if it does not it is too wet) but if it starts crumbling too easily,(it is too dry); it is just a matter of trying. Out of these big balls make smaller balls about half a centimeter in diameter.

Once this is done take out the fish or meat out of the bouillon and set the flame to high. Then add the cassava balls to this. Carefull! Do not put all the balls in at once it will cool off the soup too fast. Also do not stir immediately because it will break apart the balls too fast because you will get a glazy looking soup that looks like hangovers vomit. Go to work with caution. Once all the balls have been added to the soup lower the flame and continue cooking. After two to three minutes you can start stirring and try getting the balls that have clumped together apart. Also add a pepper for taste preferrably an adyuma (habenero) cayenne pepper or madame janet pepper but if these are not available a spanish pepper will do.

Serve this up with a piece of pepper that can be used at the persons own discretion. So hot that you can just barely eat it. If you like you may also add a dash of vinegar which makes the soup absolutely delicious.

* What happens with the poisonous liquid from the bitter cassava? Throw it away? No absolutely not. This poisonous liquid can be used as an insecticide for lice in your vegetable garden. You can also boil it in a big pan and make a syrup like liquid called kasripo. The poison is hereby taken out and is no longer dangerous. If by any chance you should run out of soy sauce you may use this liquid as a marinade.

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