Thursday, November 10, 2011

Beignets congolaise: mikate, continued

In Ghana they make a kind of doughnut called togbei or bofrot (called "puff-puff" in Nigeria) shown in the picture at the left. It is very similar to the DRC's mikate. When I first learned of mikate, I believed it was made solely from cassava flour, but that was incorrect.

Stany Nzabas, my husband's colleague from the DRC, explains that mikate is the plural of a Swahili word for bread, and Anne Masamba clarifies that in Lingala mikate is the plural form of the word (mokate is the singular), whereas in Kikongo, mikati is the plural form, mukati the singular.

Stany Nzabas further commented that in the DRC, the French name is beignet, and these are a popular  breakfast food with coffee. Sure enough, I found a recipe online (in French) for beignets congolaise  as well as cooking videos (all in French) demonstrating clearly the steps in making  Beignets Congolais, with slight variations:

As well as Recette Beignet nature  à la congolaise

There are also mikate recipes online from Tanzania such as one for mikate ya Maji, or Zenji crepes.
Here is a final interesting historical footnote: While Anne indicated in her reaction to my last post  that nowadays mikate are commonly made from wheat flour, it's possible that rice flour was historically part of the mix. Her comment reminded me of a question my friend and culinary colleague Gisele Perez posed earlier this year in a  blog posting on her painperdue site, called "Calás--the search for a lost food tradition" in which she was searching for the roots of the famous rice beignets that "were long a special treat in New Orleans Creole households," especially among very Catholic families. I wonder if there is a Congolese connection . . .


MrsNdem said...

Hello! Although I am a follower of your blog and a fellow food blogger myself I am commenting for the first time. I'm from the DR Congo and have never eaten mikate made with kassava flour. What they commonly call mikate, fried on street corners, and served with peanut paste and/or a hot pepper sauce are fried doughnuts made from wheat flour and taste just the same as the nigerian and cameroonian puff puff. Thats what I grew up eating. I do have to admit that I have always been a city girl and have never been in the country side where a more "authentic" version might exist (which most urban congolese might not know about). Butin general when a congolese refers to "beignets" they really mean the regular wheat doughnuts. Good job though on all the research! REally interesting connections that you make between you travels, your culinary international experiences and african food. Keep up!!

Fran said...

Thank you very much for writing, Mrs. Ndem. You'll see I finally ended up where you started ;-)
Do write again. It's people like you who help me learn and grow.

anthia-ofo said...

There is a kind of fermented rice 'doughnut' from northern Ghana. I dont remember the name, but we used to have it as a treat when I was young. The top was usually sprinkled with sugar. If you know what I mean & have the recipe, I'll be so glad.

Gisele aka LA2LAChef said...

Thanks, Fran, for bringing my attention to your post and anthia-ofo's comment. Indeed, the fermented rice beignets sprinkled with sugar sound very much like the Calás of Creole New Orleans. Glad to finally have the connection verified.



foodbin said...

it's easy to make.

Fnon said...

Hi Fran,

I tried your sugar bread a number of times before it worked, thanks a lot. I also want to try butter bread, can I get the recipe for that.


MangoBelle said...

451Hi: You might find the recipe for calas on the following page interesting as it calls a fermented starch starter created the night before the calas are made.