Now, us Congolese folk don’t have a wide variety of desserts or sweet treats to indulge in. It’s okay because thankfully, we have a very wide array of fruits which sustain us when the sweet tooth needs attending to.
However, there is this one little thing that you’ll find at most Congolese events, homes, and markets – Beignets! It’s a deep fried dough, made with yeast and typically enjoyed with peanut butter. That’s right, it goes by the name “mikate na mwamba“, which translates to beignets with peanut butter in Lingala.
Walking the streets of Kinshasa in the morning will surely land you at a corner with someone’s aunty frying up some fresh ones for you to have at home for breakfast. Thankfully, here in Joburg in Yeoville we also have that luxury!
I’ve made beignets several times, with various recipes and this is by far my favourite. Give it a try!
1 kg all purpose flour
1 cube (40g) fresh baker’s yeast
300 g brown sugar
1 tsp salt
750ml warm water
1 litre oil (for deep frying)
1. Mix flour, sugar, and salt in a large bowl (large enough to contain the batter doubling in size).
2. Add the fresh yeast to dry ingredients and mix it in with your hands. Doing something similar to a pinching motion, making sure that the yeast is evenly distributed.
3. Using your hands, make a well (hole in the middle of your dry ingredients) and add the water in, little by little. Mixing after each addition.
*The batter should thicken but will still be slightly wet.
4. Knead the dough for about 5 minutes, making it homogeneous and smoother.
5. Cover the bowl with clingwrap or a damp cloth, and let it rise over 5 hours.
6. Towards the last 20 minutes of those five hours, heat the oil (medium heat) for deep frying.
7. Unwrap your bowl and break off small round pieces of the batter with your hands, or with a spoon and drop it gently into the hot oil. Be sure to dip into water before dipping into the batter to prevent sticking.
8. Add the balls one by one until they fill the surface area, turning each ball once it becomes golden brown for the other side to cook.
9. When the entire beignet is cooked, remove from oil and let it dry on a paper towel. Then add more balls to the oil. Do this for each beignet.
10. When all the dough is finished, be sure to let them cool so that you can eat it warm or cool. You can spinkle some sifted icing sugar of you want to increase sweetness once it’s cooled.
11. Get a table spoon of peanut butter (optional) and dip your beignet into that before taking a big bite – and enjoy!
The inside should be soft and fluffy, with the exterior bronzed but also soft. Soooo yummy! Go ahead, give it a try!
And all that sweet stuff, B