Tag Archives: Angola

Eating our Way Around Lusophone Africa at Mesa Kreol

brazil angolaGuineaBissauFlagImageOne of the most interesting things about the Lisbon food scene is the proliferation of restaurants with foods from former Portuguese colonies. Brazilian, Angolan, Cape Verdean and Goan foods and restaurants abound in the city. When we were showing some friends around town, we wanted to find a place that would give them a taste of food from around the Lusophone world. We stumbled upon Mesa Kreol (Arco Portas do Mar, 1100-035 Lisboa). Mesa Kreol gives you that around-the-world trip by offering only the most iconic dishes from several former Portuguese colonies, all with a contemporary twist.

MesaKreolMesa Kreol is located at the foot of Alfama, the old quarter of Lisbon, which is perhaps more known for its fado music and small restaurants serving grilled fish. The restaurant is clean in tidy, and only foreigners were eating at the absurdly early hour of 7 PM (like 4 PM in the US), though the restaurants seems to be popular with a mix of locals and visitors alike. The menu was brief, and was divided into starters, meat and fish. For starters we had to sample the strawberry gazpacho, not traditional at all, but spicy, delicious and refreshing.  Other starter options included an octopus escabeche or linguiça sausage with goat cheese. For mains we went with the more traditional dishes, Moamba from Angola, Caldo de Mancarra from Guinea-Bissau and Brazilian shrimp Moqueca. Other national dishes included the cachupa bean stew from Cape Verde. Less traditional offerings included the tuna steak, Mozambican shrimp, and a Moroccan tajine.Moamba

Moamba is the national dish of Angola, and is made with whole chicken, drenched in palm oil, tomatoes, okra, spicy malagueta pepper, bell peppers and other veggies. We were warned by the server that this was a “greasy” dish, which may have been a needed warning for those not familiar with palm oil, but it was not really a greasy dish at all. The Caldo de Mancarra – a rich peanut stew with whole chicken – was delicious, and reminded us of other groundnut stews from West Africa. We sopped up every possible bit of sauce with the rice.

MoquecaandMancarra

However, the hit of the night may have been the shrimp moqueca, a classic Brazilian dish of coconut milk, palm oil and bell peppers that we have enjoyed many times in Brazil. M deemed deemed Mesa Kreol’s version as one of the best moquecas he had had outside of Brazil, which is pretty high praise. This version came with delicious fresh shrimp and it was replete with palm oil, which is a necessity. We were too stuffed for dessert, but tempting options included Brazilian Sagu (tapioca pudding) and chocolate cake. Mesa Kreol is a great introduction to the foods of former Portuguese colonies. It is a true culinary trip around the world in only one place!

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The Burgeoning Food Scene in Luanda, Angola

angolaEspecially in the US, Angola many be pretty far off the culinary radar. However, living in Brazil and Portugal we got to sample Angolan cuisine and it is awesome! It turns out that in Luanda, the capital of Angola, a pretty amazing homegrown food scene is emerging, drawing on both local and international food influences (including, of all things, a Scandinavian Cafe). The link from Africa is a Country also includes a recipe for Moamba de Galinha (Chicken Moamba) one of the country’s most iconic dishes. Even more diverse places to eat in Luanda are highlighted on a site started by expats, Luanda Nightlife. It seems like Luanda has nearly every type of restaurant you could want!

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Angolan Cuisine in Lisbon: Moamba

 Moamba
 Rua Fradesso da Silveira, 75
Lisbon, Portugal

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.

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