Angajú is my babá in osha. For me he is the heart of mysteries in my life, we have a quiet and profound relationship. However, my youngest son, a typically curious 5 years old going on 50 always wants to know more and more about this giant amongst the orishas. There is always a question about the volcano and the lava and the fire and all things related to Anganjú. So one day, he was driving me nuts with questions, I was particularly busy in the kitchen trying to think of what to make for dinner and I said to him. You want to learn about Aganjú, let me teach you what he likes to eat.
In our human condition, food is a great common denominator. We must eat to survive; thus, it is not strange that we make such a big deal out of offering food to our orishas. I asked my son, “what do you think that such a mighty orisha would enjoy eating?” He looked at me and shrugged his shoulders and said, “Volcanos eat land and people.” Flawless logic, can’t argue with that. But alas! These are not times when we offer maidens at the mouth of a volcano.
I found the ingredients I needed at hand and I gave myself to the task of cooking a meal fit for Anganjú while I shared with my little one a few patakís.
Amalá, ogedé sisé and roasted short ribs (beef). This meal consists of cornmeal porridge with sweet plantain balls and ribs and it has a very interesting contrast of sweet and spicy flavors sure to please the giant orisha. I start by preparing a nice dry spice rub for the short ribs (brown sugar, coriander seeds, dried ground pasilla and ancho chilies, cumin seeds, sea salt and guinea pepper) which go in the oven to roast slow and low until tender. The amalá is made traditional and the ogedé sisé I like to make by baking the sweet plantains rather than boiling them, they I season them with honey and cinnamon and form the sweet gooey mash into balls.
The spices I used for this meal are not traditional from West Africa, but neither is corn. I find it fitting to incorporate some dried chilies to stand up to the sweetness of the amalá and the ogedé sisé. It is also a way to pay my respects to my babá by offering something that is hot but not blazing.
Torrejas Cubanas. This is another favorite of mine, the equivalent of French Toast but made using French bread rather than sliced bread. I like to make syrup to go over the torrejas using with Port wine, clarified butter, vanilla, cinnamon and lots of brown sugar or even maple syrup if I am doing a very special petition.
I must admit, since the ribs take a bit to cook to perfection, I did lose the attention span of my kid for a while, but he was back to the kitchen in a flash once he detected the scent of the torrejas browning on the clarified butter. He insisted in delivering the plate of torrejas in front of Anganjú all by himself in exchange of a little portion which he happily ate sitting on a mat on the floor.
I hope you enjoy trying out these dishes for yourself or offering them to Anganjú in case you have it at home. I will leave you with some music from the late Celia Cruz. Enjoy!
Oní Yemayá Achagbá