Flavor see flavor, Flavor hide. Some call it bitter balls and some call it Gnangnan-Nsuasua. We all agree it is tiny eggplants full of bitter taste. Use this African eggplant recipe to understand how to minimize the bitterness for this Kittely Stew and learn how red oil makes this recipe sing.
First off, understand that Kittely’s bitter water is medicinal to Africans who know how to use it to heal certain ailments. As a child, I didn’t understand why my mother did not waste the first boiling water. It was later on in adulthood I understood that the bitter flavor has a rich taste.
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To reduce the bitter taste, boil the Kittely and waste the first boiling water, which is the most bitter and potent medicinally. My father would become vexed if we wasted the water so we often save it and he drank it after it cools. Bravo, papa.
After wasting the first water, rinse the boiled Kittely: the more you rinse it the less bitter it becomes. It is not possible to eliminate all bitterness no matter how long you rinse these bitter balls, which is what makes Kittely unique in flavor.
Nectar of the Gods
Palm oil is a must where Kittely Stew is concerned, especially in authentic African cuisine. For instance, the traditional use of the nectar of the gods with this deliciously fatty Liberian palm Butter soup. This is not only for its taste but also for its benefits to your body. As for me, I like some bitterness oo. After adding all other ingredients to the soup, the last thing Liberians like to add is country soda, a type of limestone as a softener. Others call it Kanwa’a, Akanwu, Rock Salt, or simply Kuan.
This is a different recipe in its own right. I want to share the inspiration of how I use Kittely to create different elevated tastes or compound the flavors in a dish specially for Kittely Stew. Stay tuned for the gist on this yum yum.
Palm oil Kittely stew is bitter in flavor but rewards a sweet after-taste. Paired with palm oil (red oil) and some plant protein, you have a savory down-to-earth meal that nourishes your body and more. West African comfort food at best. Trying out this African eggplant recipe will definitely have you coming back for more ideas on authentic African plant-based cooking…
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- 8 oz Kittely (frozen or dried), also called Gnangnan Nsusua or bitter balls
- 1/3cup Red Oil (Palm Oil)
- 1/2 Onion diced finely
- 1 Habanero Pepper diced (optional)
- 2 cups of Vegetable broth OR 1 bullion cube soaked in 2 cups water
- 2 cups of water additional
- 1/4 Tsp Salt & Pepper to taste
- 1/4 Tsp baking soda
- Wash dried Kittely thoroughly. Rinse three times. If frozen, no need to wash
- After washing, pour the Gnangnan Nsusua (aka bitter balls) into deep cooking pot and add 2 cups of water to boil bitter balls for 30 mins, do not cover pot and cook on medium heat.
- After 30mins, water should reduce. To reduce the bitter taste, you should sift the bitter balls and rinse it out two times with cold water. Less rinse equals more bitter taste
- Scoop out half of the bitter balls, mash it up and add back to the pot, turn heat to medium.
- Add your onions and spicy pepper and vegetable broth and low boil for 15mins.
- Add your palm oil, and salt to taste. cook on low heat until the stew reduce to the thickness you desire.
- When soup reach desired taste and thickness, add baking soda.
At step 3, some people throw out the entire bitter water while some people use it for medicinal purpose. Do as you see fit. The first boiled water is VERY bitter.