I met Josie and Habibi tonight, the owners of Boise’s newest market: African Market. Located at 561 Orchard St., African Market is perfectly situated to serve the refugee community, many of whom live nearby on Curtis, but also near the other awesome ethnic markets: India Market, Orient Market, BoEx and Campos Market.
African Market is located on Orchard, at least according to mail address, but they are next to the Dutch Oven Cafe – a tiny little place on Denton and Orchard.
This is the only current Boise market exclusively African. Currently they have various frozen imports, red palm oil, various spices, beans, and cassava, or fufu products.
They plan on having teff products there as well. As you may know from my post on local teff, Idaho grows teff. Teff is the basis for many African countries’ food, and injera a popular choice among those.
Josie and her husband Martin, and Habibi, my husband Jeremy and I stood around talking about African foods for a while. We all lamented the lack of an African restaurant in Boise. We talked hot sauces, injera techniques (yes, techniques!), and they taught me a few new recipes.
Above in the picture are frozen cassava leaves. The cassava, a waxy yam, is also known as the tapioca plant, the yuca, and the manioc. This is the same root that provides the “bobas” in your boba tea. The bobas are made from carageenan, a filler, and tapioca. Yuca is the waxy root that is popular in Cuban recipes. In West Africa cassava is used for it’s leaves, pictured, and also the pulverized root.
You can buy the fufu base at the African Market. Once you bring it home, it is mixed with boiling water and eaten plain but served with another dish. This is mostly comparative to the Hawaiian poi. Fufu is a starchy vegetable component of the meal but high in nutrients. This is eaten with okra, tomato soup, or red palm nut soup.
We purchased the cassava leaves which are a great source of vegetarian protein. These are currently frozen, but the way to cook them is to boil them for a long time, like spinach, with the Maggi boullion base (which is also vegetarian, by the way). The Maggi (produced by Nestle Corp.) boullion base is very popular, and well recognized, by many of the refugee population in Boise regardless of originating country. The Maggi’s base is lovage and wheat gluten. You add a bit of red palm oil for some flavoring and there you have it.
The red palm oil became a pretty decent fad amongst hippies in the U.S. a few years ago because it is a vegetable based oil, also called dende oil, that has nutrients. Red palm oil has good fatty acids, beta-carotene, a-carotenes, lycopene, and CoQ10. This is a dominant cooking oil in many other countries besides the United States and it’s a great way to cut down on your corn consumption.
Check out African Market, and talk to the owners who will be happy to share with you their recipes, and secret injera techniques, and please, beg them to open up a restaurant!