Market day in Nyumba – Rwanda

Two weeks ago I was in Rwanda doing some research and spent most of my time in Nyumba, outside Butare in the south of the country. Sunday turned out to be market day in Nyumba, so I grabbed the opportunity to check out what’s on offer in a small village market in Rwanda. There was mostly vegetables; onions, tomatoes, avocados, bananas, egg plant and a root vegetable called amateke. I was told it’s cooked in beans and similar to cassava, and don’t think I’ve ever tried it.

There was also imboga, which is a thin green leaf vegetable the Rwandese call legumes in French (ie vegetable, in English). It’s similar to spinach but more tender. It’s often sautéed and seems very healthy. I didn’t see any meat on sale at the market or fresh fish, but some dried fish that you apparently cook with tomatoes and onion. I was very intrigued to find at least three different types of avocados, one with a reddish peel I’ve not seen before. Anyone know this type?

The small, green egg plants you find in Africa are generally quite bitter. They’re a staple in Rwanda, and a market lady called Mediatrice told me you peel them and fry them with onion, then add tomatoes a little later, and finally, even later, some beans. You add as much beans as you like, to fill up stomachs. Generally, the more beans you add the less delicious it gets. I’ll try her recipe out soon, so keep an eye out here on the blog for African egg plant de Madame Mediatrice.

There was a big clothes and shoes section at the market too, and I was excited to find a pair of pink flip flops. I used to live in a red pair of flip flops that I bought in a small village market in Juba in southern Somalia in 2007 until they broke recently, and was very happy to find a replacement. Flip flops are a travel essential in Africa – there’s nothing better for long bus journeys or for pottering around your hotel room or the backyard if you’re staying with friends.

Imboga – green vegetable.
Lemon and passion fruit.
African doughnuts – in South Africa we call them ‘fat cakes’.
Not food – buy great buy!
Gishamvu – Nyumba

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