Throughout Asia, Latin America, and Central Africa food is cooked in banana-leaf packets. In Central Africa, meat, chicken, or fish, plus other ingredients to make a sauce, are wrapped in banana leaf and steamed in a pot or roasted on a grill. Throughout the Congo River area, the Lingala word, LibokÚ (plural, MabokÚ) is often used to refer to this method of preparation; Ajomba (or Jomba) is this dish's name nearer the Atlantic coast. It's also called "Viande en Paquet", French for "Meat in Packet". "Viande" is French for "meat". Central Africa's Baton de Manioc (Baton de Manioc is similar to Fufu, made from cassava tubers) is also cooked in banana leaves.
peanuts, roasted, shelled, and skinned and crushed (optional)
2 - 3 lbs. beef (or any stew meat), cut into large bite-sized pieces
cayenne pepper or red pepper
juice of 2 lemons
chile pepper, chopped (optional)
1 - 2 onions, chopped (optional)
If you are using peanuts: Use less meat, so you have equal amounts of peanuts and meat. Remove the peanuts' shells, roast the peanuts on a baking sheet in a hot oven, or in a large skillet on the stove, stirring often, then remove the skins. Place the peanuts in a saucepan, add enough water to partially cover them and bring to a slow boil, stirring often. Reduce heat. Crush peanuts with a potato-masher. Simmer for fifteen minutes, then add meat and continue to simmer until all the water is evaporated (thirty minutes or so).
Warm the banana leaves for a minute in a hot oven, or on a grill, or in a pot of boiling water. (This makes them easier to fold.)
Sprinkle salt and pepper directly onto the banana leaves. Place the meat (or meat and peanut mixture), onions, and chile pepper into the banana leaves. Moisten the meat with lemon juice and water (skip the lemon juice if using peanuts).
Fold the banana leaves to completely enclose the ingredients in a packet two or three layers thick. (Use something like the burrito folding technique. Depending on how many leaves you have you may want to make more then one packet. You can use oven-proof string to tie them closed.)
Steam the packets by placing them on a rack over boiling water in a large covered pot, or cook them over a grill, or in an oven. (If using an oven, you may want to place some aluminum foil under them to catch drips.) Turn them every ten minutes. In Africa, banana leaf packets are sometimes first steamed and then grilled. After about an hour carefully open the packet and check the meat, if it is not done, close the packet and continue cooking.
Serve with Baton de Manioc or Fufu.
Note: the banana leaves should not be eaten.
area : Central Africa
course : meat dish
source : The Congo Cookbook