Managu or as our learned friends would call it “African nightshade”, is a traditional delicacy native to Africa and is one of the most popular traditional vegetables we grew up enjoying and still do to date! Some may also know it as Ndunda, Osuga or Isoiyot!
This vegetable has quickly found its way back to many supermarket shelves, modern grocery stores i.e Zucchini and not to forget, our local neighborhood mama mboga” stands and is gaining popularity due to its many health benefits that most urban populations are slowly embracing back into their diets!
With the advent of lifestyle diseases, many of us or switching back to what our loving mothers brought us up on. This comes as no surprise, as managu has high nutritional and medicinal value and even more important, if you ask me, it’s the flavors it packs. Some shy away from it as a vegetable due to its bitter taste but prepared properly, it’s one of the best foods you will ever have.
There are a million ways out there of preparing these nutritious leaves, some choose to boil it to death before frying, some steam them then fry them. Some people straight away fry it and enjoy it as it comes. For me however it depends on the type of managu at hand and it’s age. Here’s my simple taste test. Pick up a leaf and have a bite, the stronger the herby taste and aftertaste, the more bitter it will turn out so adjust your boiling times accordingly. Another way my mother taught me is to look at how they are flowering, too many flowers is a sight of an older plant. Yes another way is the look at the leaves, the darker the leaves the more bitter they will turn out when cooked. Still, at the end of the day it’s all about taste preference and I do enjoy mine with a little bit of bitterness.
Cooking cream, milk or coconut milk can be added in to mellow down the bitter taste of these veggies but for this recipe I went for a simple steaming then frying in onions and ripe tomatoes just as my mother would prepare it for us growing up.
Managu is a little bit labor intensive when it comes to plucking the leaves from the stem but it’s worth the hassle. I paired my Managu with a simple garlic and butter steak and my mouth was in flavour heaven.
I used beef fillet for my recipe. I recently bought two beef fillets from the butcher and after doing all the trimming and butchering I was left with the fillets wings and was toying with the idea of making beef mshikakis with them until this poped up. Beef tenderloin is not the most flavorful cut of the animal but it’s one of the leanest and most tender cut you will come across.
These steak pieces takes minutes to cook and the divine lemon garlic and butter sauce kisses our meat awakening up the flavors from within the beef which when paired with the managu makes for a meal fit for a king.
- 500g Beef fillet
- 1Tbsp butter
- 1 Tsp black pepper
- 1 Tsp Samoa sodium soy sauce
- 2 rosemary sprigs
- 2 thyme sprigs
- 2 bunches Managu(African Nightshade) aprox 500g
- 1 cup onions
- 1 cup tomatoes
- Salt to taste
- Slice your steak against the grain.
- Separate the leaves from the woody stems of the spinach.Thoroughly wash with clean water and set aside.
- Chop up the onions,tomatoes and proceed to mince your garlic.
- Place the managu in a dry pot and cover.Let it steam in its own liquid until it drys out.Thus shouldn’t take long.Take it off the heat and set aside.
- In a pan add in about a tablespoon of oil,fry your onions until fragrant and translucent then add in your tomatoes.Cook until the tomatoes have broken down to a pasty consistency.Add in the managu,bring it to a quick boil then simmer for 5 minutes and that’s it.
- Slice your steak against the grain season it with Salt&pepper and set aside.
- Bring a frying pan over medium high heat.Add in a tablespoon of olive oil.sear your steak bits for a minute throw in your butter,garlic and all the herbs.cook for one more minute then take off the heat and serve medium rare.(Let it go on for longer if you prefer your beef well done)
- Serve hot!