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food for change

My name is Linda, I was born in February 1988 into a family of 8 children – 5 girls and 3 boys. I’ve been married to Mr. Junior since 2016, and I have one girl of 3 three years and one of 9 months. I’m from the Democratic Republic of Congo, but I live in South Africa with my husband and my daughters.

“Matembele is a vegetable from my country, Congo, and it’s one of my favourite foods. When we cook it here in South Africa, we have to add a lot of spices, because it’s not really fresh from the farm. Here, they keep it for a long time in the fridge, so when we buy it, it’s not fresh; that’s why we have to mix it with onion and other spices.”


  • Whole red fish (with head and tail)
  • Matembele1
  • Carrots
  • Onion
  • Tomato
  • Green pepper
  • Tomato sauce
  • Garlic and ginger paste
  • Salt and pepper
  • Cooking oil



For the matembele, I first cut all my veggies into small pieces and I put my cooking oil into a pan. I’m going to fry first the onion, and after a couple of minutes, I add salt… not a lot of salt, but a little bit of salt… Then I’ll mix it with my green pepper, carrots and tomato. So I fry all my vegetables together! When the veggies are ready, then I add my green matembele and I stir everything together.

Separately, I take away all the dirt from my fish. I clean it nicely! Then, I add some spices before I fry it. For that, I place my fish in a big bowl and I’m going to spread the ginger and garlic paste. But because I don’t want the paste to burn, what I do is simply take about one tablespoon of paste and I squeeze the juice. I squeeze it well! Until the paste is almost dry! After the ginger and garlic juice, I also add some salt and white pepper and shake, shake my fish to spread the spices nicely! Remember that for the fish you have to put enough spices, because if you don’t put enough, the fish is not going to taste nice. So, now I’m going to let my fish rest for 15 to 30 minutes before I fry it.

After this, I put quite a lot of cooking oil in a pan, and when the oil is hot, I add my fish and I let it cook for about 10 minutes on each side. I fry it for a total of 20 minutes, approximately. When my fish is almost ready, I’m going to add tomato paste to the matembele, a whole can of it! I stir everything and I let it cook for another 10 minutes. And then my food is ready!

Me and my family like to eat the fish and matembele with some chili peppers. We like chilies very much!

1Sweet potato leaves.