If anywhere outside of Angola would have good Angolan food, it would be an Angolan restaurant directly across from the Angolan Embassy in the city with the world’s largest population of Angolan expatriates.
Surprisingly, though Moamba was full, there were few Angolans in the restaurant on this day – perhaps they were all still working at the consulate? But even though most patrons were Portuguese, looking around we could tell they staunchly avoided the small section of Portuguese cuisine on the menu, and went straight for the moamba, the house specialty and Angola’s national dish, which is served up hot, heavy and in bulk to almost everyone who walks through the door.
Moamba will remind the first-timer of other rich stews from the western African coast: a thick, oily dish of chicken stewed with tomatoes, okra, potatoes, and collard greens in a slightly spicy sauce. It is served with generous portions of tapioca and a yellow flour mash, similar to Nigerian fufu. Even the half-portion we ordered (9 euros), when combined with the tapioca, was far more than what was needed for the two of us.
To mix things up, L ordered the roast chicken, grilled and marinated with Angolan spices and served with piri-piri. She was less than willing to heap on the piri-piri, but M dove right in, slathering it on his moamba, some chicken, and the welcome fresh – and desnse! – bread served with our meal. The chicken, served with fries and a small inconsequential salad, hit the spot – places that serve a great, flavorful piece of grilled chicken are increasingly hard to come by, and it is no secret that a lot of our favorites have come from western and central African restaurants. When we head back to Lisbon in the fall (yes, the secret is out), Moamba will definitely be on our return list for a flavorful, inexpensive, and very hearty African lunch.