Lalê! This weekend found us in Chad, which just so happens to be the northern neighbor of our last country, the Central African Republic, and also shares a border with Cameroon, which we’ve also covered very recently. Like the C.A.R. and Cameroon, Chad is a former French colony. All three countries also use the Central African CFA franc as currency (along with three other nations we haven’t visited yet). In researching foods, we found many common ingredients, including millet, tropical fruits, peanuts and rice.
Of course, we want to know what makes Chad unique, but it’s also nice recognizing similarities in countries we visit.
Our Chadian breakfast was very similar to what we ate while globetrotting in the C.A.R., a rice porridge called bouillie. Again, we substituted sunflower butter for the peanut butter, to accommodate Derek’s nut allergy. The bouillie was a little different than last week’s breakfast, as we mixed in a little millet flour, milk and lemon (other recipes call for yogurt, so I imagine the lemon in our recipe was for giving the porridge some tang). The end result was a much more creamy porridge than last week’s. I’m not sure if I should have put more liquid in last week’s porridge, or if Central Africans do indeed eat a thicker version of this hot breakfast cereal.
As we have in the past, we turned to Geography Now for their concise introduction to the geography, demographics and political climate of this week’s country:
For lunch, I made maharagwe, a dish with red kidney beans and coconut milk, and boule, thick porridge made mainly from millet flour. Maharagwe also seems to appear in the cuisine of other African countries like Kenya and the Congo. Although our recipe called for peanut oil, I used red palm oil because of Derek’s allergy, and because palm oil seems to be one of our pantry staples, after globetrotting to numerous African nations. As for the boule, we’ve made similar paste-like porridges before, like one with corn flour in Burundi, but this was our first time making one primarily with millet flour.
Like many Africans, Chadians eat with their hands, taking some of the porridge into their right hand and then dipping that into a meat or vegetable sauce. Since the maharagwe was pretty chunky, this was hard to do, so I’m not sure pairing it with boule was the right thing to do. Taste-wise, it was a pretty good lunch.
For dinner, Derek made daraba, okra cooked with other vegetables (we used sweet potato and tomato) and some peanut butter (or, in our case, sunflower butter), and some rice.
To accompany our meal, I also prepared a Chadian drink, karkanji, which is made with dried hibiscus flowers, ginger, cinnamon, water and sugar to taste. It can either be consumed hot like a tea (which was what we did for dinner), or chilled. The hibiscus made the drink tangy, and the ginger and cinnamon gave the drink some spice, and all in all it was a nice combination.
After dinner, we watched a Chadian film that Derek picked up from the library, Daratt. Atim, a teenage boy, is tasked with avenging his father’s death by killing his father’s murderer, who was never punished for his crime. The man who killed his father is now a baker, and Atim gets hired as his apprentice. Here’s the trailer:
Watching the characters make baguettes in the movie did make us hungry, so we snacked on fresh papaya.
The next morning, we had some more bouillie. Derek claims it tastes like macaroni and cheese, which I don’t get, but, to each his own. We spent most of the morning making our respective lunches for the work week (Derek’s lunches, which are dishes inspired by the cuisine of the Greek island of Ikaria, may even deserve their own globetrotting post), and then had leftover maharagwe and boule for Sunday lunch, along with glasses of chilled karkanji.
In the afternoon, we ran some errands, including picking up a baguette since we still had baguette on the brain after the previous evening’s film. We couldn’t find any information on how Chadians might eat their baguettes. In Daratt, we see the bakers just ripping hunks off the long loaves and eating the bread plain. We ate the baguette unadorned, too, and it was a good afternoon snack.
We watched two more videos about Chad in the afternoon: one from Vice News, about Chad’s fight against the Islamic extremist group Boko Haram, and another in which an American missionary shows viewers what life in a rural Chadian village is like. I found the second video especially interesting when we see how women harvest and grind millet into flour, all by hand—it made me better appreciate the bag of millet flour that we had just picked up from the local co-op.
For dinner, we finished the daraba and rice. Our globetrots typically end on Sunday nights, but this weekend was a little different. We had originally requested a different Chadian movie from Netflix, but it didn’t arrive in time for the weekend. Lucky for us, Daratt was available at our local library. But, on Tuesday, A Screaming Man arrived, so we watched it after finishing up the very last of the maharagwe.
Both Daratt and A Screaming Man were directed byMahamat-Saleh Haroun, a Chadian-born director. Like Daratt, A Screaming Man is also about war, and fathers and sons. You can watch the trailer here:
As with numerous other African countries, globetrotting in Chad reminded us how lucky we are to live in a stable country, and with many freedoms. But in addition to learning about struggles in Chad, we’d like to think we uncovered positive aspects to Chadian culture as well—from its filmmaking to its cuisine. Until next time, au revoir!