Equatorial Guinea Food: How to make AKWADU – Banana Coconut Bake

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Equatorial Guinea is a country where mingle modernity and traditions. Despite a veneer of Spanish culture and of Roman Catholic religion that is thicker in Bioko than on the mainland, many Equatorial Guineans live according to ancient customs, which have undergone a revival since independence.

Equatorial Guinea has a rich and varied culture. The migrations from the 18th century have influenced the country, creating cultural diversity in the field of languages, food, art, music. The country is a former Spanish colony and remains mostly influenced by Europe.

The food of Equatorial Guinea is known for its variety and is heavily influenced by traditional African food, as well as European traditions. Rural areas base their dishes primarily on meat and fish, with more urban areas offering Spanish-influenced restaurants serving paella and potato omelets.
With the growth of the hotel industry in the largest cities of Malabo and Bata, many restaurants feature variations on African and western cuisine, with meals offered throughout the day.

Traditional Equatorial Guinean food is dominated by sauces made from local ingredients, including peanuts, ñame (yams) and ocrao. The meat of native animals is also occasionally used, including antelope, turtle and crocodile. However, fish is more commonly used in modern dishes, with many restaurants priding themselves on their freshly-caught fish, which is often served charcoal-broiled or in a spicy fish soup known as pepesup. Lobster is also very popular in coastal towns, and most dishes are accompanied by the staples of rice or plantain.

Traditional drinks malamba (distilled from sugar cane) and Osang, an African tea. Palm wine, an alcoholic beverage created from the sap of various species of palm tree such as the Palmyra, and coconut palms are produced locally.

Today, We sharing a dessert recipe, that is mainly composed of bananas: Akwadu.
Akwadu comes from a place in Africa where the official language is Spanish and where the style of the old buildings is of eighteenth century Spanish Baroque: Equatorial Guinea, one of the smallest countries in Africa.
Equatorial Guinea is an equatorial African state, located on the Gulf of Guinea, bordered on the north by Cameroon, on the east and the south by Gabon and extending over 10,830 square miles.

Its territory consists of a mainland and two islands, Annobòn as well as Bioko, on which the capital Malabo is located. Nature is lush and majestic, with tropical forests, mangroves and volcanoes like the famous Pico Basilé on the island of Bioko, which is close to 10,000 feet high.

The history of the country is closely linked to that of European colonial empires, with Portuguese, Dutch, Spanish and English periods. A complex journey that created a mosaic of identities, composed of ancient local tribes, migrant communities from other African countries, but also from China and India, Afro-Portuguese and Afro-Cuban Creoles and some Europeans.

As in all the countries of tropical Africa, including Equatorial Guinea, “bushmeat” is an integral part of traditional food. Yes, people eat the flesh of wild animals that populate the rainforest, such as monkeys, rodents, birds but also bats, antelopes or even snake or elephant.

But there are two other classic ingredients: banana and coconut. The people of Equatorial Guinea do not start their day without akwadu (African banana coconut bake). It is first a breakfast, then a dessert.

There are two ways to cook it:
With and without the banana peel. Since it is a very quick recipe to make, We decided to try both methods. It can be prepared with banana or plantain.
We chose plantain for the version with peel, thinking that since it is firmer, it would be better suited for cooking. We will need to try the version without peel another time. We largely preferred the end result and taste with classic banana, and without the peel of course. A matter of taste!

There is also a less common cooking method: barbecued. This version consists in macerating the bananas in all the ingredients, before barbecuing them, and serving them hot after pouring the marinade on top.

Banana
Banana is one of the most popular fruits in the world. It is grown in most parts of the world, with plantations in at least 107 countries.
Bananas, with an annual production of more than 130 million tons, are a food of great importance worldwide. With nearly 30 million tonnes, India is the world’s largest producer, while Latin American countries dominate the international banana trade. In sub-Saharan Africa, fruit is the main contributor to a healthy diet for more than 100 million people.

After India, the second largest producer is Uganda, which annually exports only 10% of its production, while Latin America and the Caribbean account for 70% of world banana exports.

What is the difference between a banana and a plantain?
The classic banana is sweet and mostly eaten raw like a fruit, while the plantain is mostly starch until it is ripe, cooked or processed.
Plantains are similar to green bananas, but they are longer, thicker and have a tough skin. They become black when they are ripe. Unlike tender yellow bananas, which are often simply peeled and eaten raw, plantains are always cooked before they are eaten, either in soups and stews, or baked or fried. Plantain is a staple of Caribbean and West African cuisine. It has a yellow or pink pulp.

A classic banana is sweet with a bright yellow peel that is removed before being eaten. It has a soft consistency.
Banana is a common ingredient in many recipes for cakes, juices, smoothies and it is often used as a thickener.
Bananas, and especially plantains, are sold at different stages of maturity, each with their associated culinary use. A green plantain will be thoroughly cooked, slightly golden and tender after cooking, while a ripe plantain will often be caramelized. A green plantain can also be used to thicken soups and stews.

The peeling of a banana consists only in cracking the stem and pulling on the peel. Peeling a plantain is more complicated. The ends are cut and the plantain is then cut into pieces with the peel on. The peel of each cut piece is then removed, one by one.
Banana and plantain have a similar nutritional value. A plantain has only about 5 calories of fat and is low in cholesterol and sodium. A classic raw banana contains about six calories of fat. They are very good sources of vitamin C, vitamin B6 and manganese. Both are rich in fiber, potassium and essential vitamins.

How to prepare Akwadu
Prep Time: 10 mins
Cook Time: 20 mins
Total Time: 30 mins

Akwadu is an African Banana Coconut Bake that is traditionally eaten for breakfast in Equatorial Guinea.

Ingredients
– 4 bananas (or plantains)
– 1 cup shredded coconut
– ½ cup orange juice
– ¼ cup sugar
– 3 tablespoons unsalted butter , melted
– Juice of 2 lemons
– Cinnamon (optional)
– Honey

Instructions
Plantain with skin version

– Preheat oven to 400 F (convection mode).
– Cut the bananas in half lengthwise without removing their skin.
– Score the flesh of the bananas. Arrange them in a baking dish.
– Pour the butter. Drizzle the orange and lemon juices.
– Sprinkle with cinnamon (optional). Sprinkle generously with brown sugar and coconut.
– Bake for 20 minutes, basting regularly with the banana juice flowing into the baking dish.
– Remove the bananas from the oven. Put a little honey on each.
– Return to oven on grill position and brown the top (about 5 minutes but watch closely).
– Baste with juice again.

Skinless standard bananas version
– Preheat oven to 400 F.
– Cut the bananas into thick slices. Arrange them in a baking dish.
– Pour the butter. Drizzle the orange and lemon juices.
– Sprinkle with cinnamon (optional). Sprinkle generously with brown sugar and coconut.
– Bake for 10 minutes.
– Remove the bananas from the oven.
– Put a little honey on each.
– Return to oven in grill position and brown the top (about 2 minutes but watch closely).
– Akwadu is delicious and extremely easy to make!

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