Here in Benin the most common form of easily accessible and cheap food is found on the streets, sold by mamas off the tops of their heads or in covered pots and pans. Common finds are rice, beans, fried plantains or other fried balls made with bean, wheat, or corn flour, wagasi (homemade cheese), eggs, sauces, spaghetti noodles, gari (ground manioc), or watche (rice and beans). My absolute favorite is watche (WAH-chay) with sauce d’arachide (peanut sauce) and wagasi (WAH-gah-shee). These mamas have generations of knowledge on how to make these foods and sauces and replicating them on our own stoves is difficult and pointless (since you can just go outside and buy a huge plate for $1). I decided though, that I wanted to learn how to make watche and peanut sauce like a local so that a) I could be able to make it when my service here is over and b) I’d know exactly what I was eating and hopefully avoid some of the stomach illnesses that constantly plague me here in Afrique, quoi.
So quite by accident, I discovered how to make homemade watche, and I am including the recipe here for all you intrepid foodies out there.
Watche with peanut sauce (bag optional)
1/2 c dry black eyed peas or other beans
1/2 c dry brown rice
water as needed
3 tbs peanut oil
1/2 tsp pimante powder or red pepper
1/4 c tomato paste
1/2 c peanut butter
1 maggie cube (or bouillon cube or veggie broth)
1 tsp salt
1/2 c water
1/2 c chopped onion
To make the watche, simply cook the beans with lots of water, a pinch of salt and baking soda until almost finished. They should still be a bit crunchy. Add the rice and more water and cook covered until the beans and rice form a sticky ball together. Add water to the desired consistency, should be sticky. You can add some gari (powdered manioc) if desired.
To make the peanut sauce, saute the tomato paste, pimante, salt, onions, and maggie cube in peanut oil for several minutes, stirring often. Add the peanut butter and water and bring to a quick boil. Let simmer a few minutes, adding more oil or water as needed.
Serve with wagasi or a hardboiled egg and a pinch or two of gari. C’est parfait!
Anyway, not much else is going on my life. I received my second interview invitation and now I have I have two interviews scheduled for my 6 weeks home in America at the end of this month. I’ll be officially in the states by September 30th and I have lots of fun road trips planned. I am so excited about this trip I can barely even function. Of course, the new Twilight movie comes out a WEEK after I have to leave to go back to Africa. Darn.
*Edit: As of September 8th, I have another interview! They’re just coming in now! Yay!*