16 April 2012

Cooking with the Mamas: Bitekuteku

Sometimes we like to stage cook-offs between Mamicho and Mama Youyou. And then reap the benefits. For example over break I said, "Wow, I really love Bitekuteku. Can either of you make it?" Knowing full well it's impossible to be a Congolese woman and not know how...

They also think it's hilarious that Adam is the house chef and get a kick out of teaching him tricks-of-the-Congo-cooking-trade.

So here is the first installment of Cooking with the Mamas: Bitekuteku


Serves 2-4 Congolese, or 10-12 Foreigners
2 large bunches of young bitekuteku (or spinach if you’re Stateside)
3 cups of green onions, chopped
2 small eggplants, peeled
1 onion, chopped
4 tablespoons oil (traditionally palm)
2 tablespoons baking soda
2 bouillon cubes
Pinch of salt
Optional ingredients: ground peanuts, fish

Boil the greens in baking soda for 3-4 minutes (This helps it keep its green color.) Drain and rinse (Be sure to rinse off all the baking soda.) Set aside.

Saute onion in oil, then add green onion, eggplant and peppers.
Add the greens and stir. (Here is where "rich people" would add fish or ground peanuts)

Add bouillon cubes and salt.

Cook until desired consistency (add a bit of water if necessary, but usually not.)

Serve with rice, plantains, beans, chicken or comme vous voulez!

Side note: As we prepared the Bitekuteku I swore we didn't really have anything in the States like it. And that the blog readers would be very fascinated. Then Mama Youyou and I were watching Cooking for Real on the Food Network, and of course she was making collard greens. Mama Youyou gave me that, "Are you kidding me?!" look she does so well...

p.s. I just saw that Bitekuteku is also known as the slightly-more-recognizable, amaranth! (Jill)


  1. What luck that we will host House Chef Adam at 3711 this summer! I will add bitekuteku to my list of expected treats, along with his fabulous risotto.

  2. FYI: I asked the assistant manager of the Harrisonburg Farmer's Market about this. He says no one there sells it that he knows of. You may have to plant some to ensure authenticity. :)

  3. You mean to tell me Harrisonburg Farmer's Market doesn't have Bitekuteku?! Outrage!

  4. Hahaha I laughed when I read "Serves 2-4 Congolese, 10-12 Foreigners." I felt like I belonged a little bit more when I started eating as much rice with meals as everyone else and I stopped taking small "kawajah" (white person) portions.

  5. My husband and I laughed and laughed over this "Serves 2-4 Congolese, or 10-12 Foreigners". Thank you for these wonderful posts!

  6. I've been in Kinshasa one week and have Bitekuteku twice- I love it and was so excited to find your recipe and blog!!


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