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Rwandan Cuisine

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Rwanda - Cooking and Food Edit

Lunch and dinner may consist of boiled beans, bananas, sweet potatoes or cassava. Umutsima (a dish of cassava and corn), isombe (cassava leaves with Eggplant and spinach) and mizuzu (fried plantains) are common dishes. Dinner is the heaviest meal. Between meals, Rwandans often snack on fruits. Tropical fruits such as avocados, bananas, mangos and papaya are abundant in Rwanda. Roadside vendors in urban areas sell roasted corn and barbecued meat.

Many Rwandan men enjoy drinking beer, but women rarely drink alcohol in any form. Although Rwanda has a large commercial brewery, many people make their own beer and alcoholic beverages, using sorghum, corn or fermented plantains. Ikigage is a locally brewed alcoholic drink made from dry sorghum and urwarwa is brewed from plantains. Traditionally, people drink beer through straws from a single large container.

Rwandans who live in rural areas rarely eat meat. Some families have cattle, but since cattle are considered a status symbol, people seldom slaughter them for meat. Many Rwandans in rural areas eat meat only once or twice a month and some Rwandan children suffer from protein deficiency. In urban areas meat is more plentiful. The most popular meats are Beef and Chicken. People who live near lakes may catch and eat fish. Tilapia and sambaza are raised on fish farms.

Cuisines of Rwanda Edit

Map of Rwanda
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Rwanda is such a small country that talking about regional cuisines would be a huge overstatement. However, the social and geographical aspects of the country are quite interesting to follow. Most of the Rwandan population belongs to the Hutu ethnic group, traditionally crop-growers. The Tutsi group originated as a socioeconomic class noted for cattle ownership. There was mobility between the two groups. For 600 years the two groups shared the business of farming, essential for survival, between them. They have also shared their language, their culture, and their nationality. The general Rwandan cuisine shares many of the dishes brought by the Tutsis – shepherd like dishes that are simple and fast to prepare. The Rwandan cuisine is dominated by an acute lack of food in the country, so speaking about sumptuous meals and elaborate Rwandan dishes would not correspond to the realities found in the country. In all of Rwanda, women are the ones that take care of cooking, and they mainly stick to preparing beer, bananas and other simple to make dishes.

Preparation Methods for Rwandan Cooking Edit

Cooking techniques in the Rwandan cuisine often include combining fish and meat. Flaked and dried fish is sometimes cooked with Chicken, yam, onions, various spices and water to prepare a flavored stew or fried in oil. Eggs and Chicken, as well as seafood are preferred. Cooking is done in multiple ways such as roasting, baking, boiling, mashing, and spicing. Such ingredients as cassava, Peanut, and chili pepper arrived along with the slave trade in the 15th century and they influenced the Rwandan cuisine but not so much the preparation methods, which remained mostly traditional. The most used ingredients used in the Rwandan cuisine include cassava and plantains. cassava plants are mostly consumed as cooked greens. The most traditional meats that are still consumed in some parts of Rwanda are those hunted in the forests. Another interesting specific cooking method involves "Isombe", which are the green leaves from the manioc plant. The leaves get finely mashed and look a bit like spinach while the roots of the plant are used to make flour-like ingredients.

Special Equipment for Rwandan Cooking Edit

Rwandan cooking does not require any special equipment but a few basic utensils like a stew pan and some pots are essential. You will also need storage containers for the condiments and a large sauce pot. Because the Rwandan food is not very diverse, the cooking methods and equipment are basic ones. If you decide to cook a dish from the Rwandan cuisine, the main challenge will be finding the right ingredients. There are some rare and exotic recipes that belong to the tribal cuisine and which need some special equipment to prepare. Of course, you can use your normal cooking tools, but the taste just wouldn’t be the same. Some of them are the traditional mud oven used to cook bread, the three cooking stones (set to form a triangle) used to bake bread or cakes and the kerosene stove, which has the main advantage that it cooks the food very fast, but it releases a strong odor. A traditional cooking tool is the charcoal burner. The charcoal is placed on top of a grill and a pot is then placed on top. There are holes on the plate for letting the ash fall into the lower compartment. The charcoal is lit by placing papers and sticks in the lower compartment. Once the fire has lighted, the small door in the lower compartment is closed.

Rwandan Food Traditions and Festivals Edit

Ubucurabwenge is an oral document that refers to mental development and contains the genealogies of the kings of Rwanda. The three other major documents - the myths Ibitekerezo, the Ubwiru rituals and the symbolic poetry Ibisigo follow the spoken rules of Ubucurabwenge. Several celebrations of the Rwandan people are extracted from this document, but, as opposed to many other nations, food does not play an intricate part of such celebrities. In most cases, what Europeans and Americans celebrate through food, Rwandan people celebrate through ritual dancing and chants.

People in Rwandan Food Edit

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The typical Rwandan meal consists of a starchy food such as rice, yams or flour cooked into porridge. When a meal consists of meat, the tradition requires that the men and the elderly receive the biggest portions. The men in the Rwandan families make beer from honey and from such grains as maize or millet. They also make wine from the sap of certain kinds of palm trees. Usually, in most ethnic groups in the Rwandan society, it is considered very impolite to refuse the food that is offered to you. This is considered a sign of disrespect. The tradition requires that the women are the ones who cook all the food and the men in charge with providing the beverages for the meal.

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