As an old Natal boy, madumbe is well known to me. On its own, peeled and boiled in salt water, madumbe has the texture and most of the taste of a baked potato, but with a little something extra in the flavour.
As an indigenous food, madumbe makes an interesting contribution to local cuisine. It’s easy to find, especially in KZN, where madumbe is available from pavement sellers and even in large supermarkets where they nestle next to calabash, garlic bulbs and fresh root ginger. You can eat madumbe any way you like, but here’s a curry sauce that shoots these nutty root crops right into the stratosphere …
To make madumbe in curried sauce for six, you will need:
1 can of white beans
3 spring onions
1 large onion
2 large tomatoes
3 tablespoons of marsala
4 cloves garlic
50mm fresh root ginger
Use these spices for the fresh masala:
1 tablespoon coriander (dhania) seeds
2 tablespoons cumin (jeera) seeds
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
10 cardamom (elachi) pods
3 whole, dried red chillies
Wash the madumbe to remove all traces of Mother Earth, then peel them with the small madumbe blade of your Swiss Army Knife! Alternatively, use a potato peeler.
Peel the ginger similarly. Plunge the peeled madumbe into a pot of lightly salted boiling water and let them cook for 20 minutes. While this is going on, make the masala.
Of course, you can buy high-quality masala at the supermarket, but like all spices, flavour is lost from the moment they are ground. And making your own is no big deal. Pour the masala ingredients with the exception of the dried chillies into a large, dry frying pan and put the stove plate on high heat. As soon as the spices start to toast, remove them and pour them into an electric spice grinder. Add the dried chillies and reduce the spices to fine dust.
Peel and thinly slice the onion, finely chop the peeled ginger and garlic. Pour 2 tablespoons of canola or sunflower oil into a large frying pan, bring up the heat and stirfry the ginger and garlic.
Sweat the onions until soft, then add the freshly ground masala. Chop the tomatoes and add them to the pot, plus the entire contents of the can of white beans, including the liquid. Stir well and let this bubble away for 20 minutes or so, keeping a custodial eye on the liquid content.
Add a little water if needed. If the sauce needs thickening at the end of the procedure, add a tablespoon or two of cooked white rice. D rain the cooked madumbe and arrange them on plates.
Spoon the curry sauce over them, ensuring that some of the white beans are included. Finally, garnish each plate with fresh dhania leaves or a couple of spring onions. Like most good curries, a couple of chilled pilseners add their own special magic to the meal. – David Basckin |fw