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Yesterday morning I crossed off an item pretty high on my Rwanda Bucket List and spent three hours taking a cooking class with Aminatha. This was an experience made possible by Vayando, and I am SO happy that I got such a unique opportunity.

The morning started at 9am at the Nyamirambo Women’s Center, where our interpreter Claude met us before we walked to meet our chef. Aminatha came to Rwanda from Congo in 1998 as a refugee, and now supports herself and her children by working at the Nyamirambo Women’s Center and by offering cooking classes.

We chopped vegetables inside our little kitchen for the day, and cooked all six dishes outdoors on charcoal stoves. So cool! Or, shall I say, hot.

The menu:

  • Sweet Potato
  • Cassava
  • Dodo (amaranth) – dodo, 4 tomatoes, 3 small onions, 1 green pepper, 6 small garlic bubs, peanut flour (lots), 4 African eggplants (NOT the purple eggplants – the ones that look like eggs and you don’t have to peel), oil, salt, pepper, seasoning, bullion
  • Beansfresh beans, 2 small onions, 4 small tomatoes, celery leaves, 1 green pepper, carrots, lots of water, oil, salt, about 6 bullion cubes, small can tomato paste
  • Plantainsplantains, tomatoes, onions, green onions, celery leaves, oil, salt, pepper, bullion {we started the plantains first because they boiled for hours}
  • Ugali – maize flour and water

I don’t usually put photos of myself in this blog, but Claude used my camera to take a million photos (thanks Claude!!), so you’ll see pics of me as well as Claude, Aminatha, and Trevor (the other chef-in-training).

The raw ingredients before starting…

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Starting the charcoal stoves…

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This is where my mouth starts watering!

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Adding plantains…

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Let’s just say I pretty much need a mortar and pestle just like this…

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Mother and son taking a break to check out photos of our progress so far

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The secret to dodo? Lots and lots of peanut flour

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Also – two packets of this. It smelled like the flavor packets of chicken ramen so probably you could use that. We also added 6 bouillon cubes.

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The recipes involved lots of chopping…

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…and chatting! 🙂

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For the beans, brown the onions and celery leaves

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Add tomatoes, carrots and green pepper (and a small can of tomato paste, lots of water and 6 bullion cubes)

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Add the fresh beans and let simmer

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Is anyone curious about that guy in the green shirt? I was. Turns out he’s wearing the coolest shirt in Kigali.

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Anyway, Back to the Food

Beans!

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I came all the way to Rwanda to peel potatoes…

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LOTS of potatoes! Luckily I spent my entire childhood preparing for this task. It was a very Maine morning.

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Ugali is the last dish we cooked, and is prepared by cooking maize flour and water for a long time until it becomes a gelatinous-ish mass. I’m not sure how else to describe it, but I really liked it.

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Ugali requires superhuman strength to prepare. Aminatha made it look simple, but Trevor and I only lasted about 15 seconds when we tried to stir it.

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Fini!!

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After cooking, we had the opportunity to share the food with a large group of tourists who had taken the Nyamirambo Women’s Center walking tour (I took this tour a couple of months ago and highly recommend it).

I was really hungry and somehow didn’t take many photos of the final product. In the battle between photographic documentation and hunger, my stomach won. Friends, it usually does. But this photo will do the job:

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Clockwise from top left: sweet potatoes, dodo, beans, cassava, and plantains in the center. The ugali is not pictured here. Everything was so delicious, but the dodo and plantains were my favorite. Rwandese only cook one or two dishes at a time – a family would never prepare all of this food for one meal.

We seriously cooked for all of these people!

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PS Who else loves the color on these walls?

Women’s Center staff…

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Thanks Aminatha! Had a truly awesome time!

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