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Love at first bite with Fabrice Masuka
Father of four Fabrice Masuka has a passion for music and people that has led him to create and facilitate all sorts of socio-cultural projects. His latest endeavour, at Restaurant Hazewee on Avenue de l’Arbre Ballon in Laeken, provides training to people aged 18 to 30. He also runs the Heart of Africa festival in the Democratic Republic of Congo, as a way to help develop the country’s cultural industries while providing a platform for young artists and musicians. And in Brussels, Masuka is best known as the driving force behind Couleur Café, one of the best world music festivals on the planet, where he has been a host for 18 consecutive years.
• 1 whole chicken
• 2 peeled, diced tomatoes
• 2 onions
• Moambe (palm nut oil)
• Frying oil
• Salt and pepper
Cut the chicken into small pieces and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Fry the chicken in hot oil. Slowly heat the moambe in a large saucepan for 30 minutes. Roughly chop the onions and add them to the moambe with the tomatoes. Let it simmer for 30 minutes, or until the sauce thickens. Finally, mix in the fried chicken and serve. This popular Congolese dish is best enjoyed with a side of rice and fried plaintains
For this you must ask my lovely wife because, ultimately, she is the head chef in our household and the one who does the shopping. Thanks to her, our kitchen is the best restaurant in the world. She fetches groceries from Chaussée de Wavre in the Matongé district where there is a wide selection of African food shops.
We say: Metro stop Porte de Namur is the gateway to the lively, multicultural Matongé district in Ixelles, named after a neighbourhood of the same name in Kinshasa. For speciality African and Caribbean ingredients, try African Exotic Matonge, at 55 Chaussée de Wavre, or Zando ya Matonge, at 89 Chaussée de Wavre
My favourite products come from Africa and Asia, China mainly. I like African products for their strength, and Asian for their finesse. But my absolute favourite is a leafy vegetable called pundu en lingala, or sombé in Swahili. It’s ground cassava leaves that resemble spinach and this vegetable is delicious when well-prepared, giving a dreamy flavour and texture. But I also really enjoy a good stoemp with carrots or a juicy steak with fries and salad.
We say: Unlike the carbohydrate-rich cassava root, cassava leaves are high in protein and vitamins A and C. The young green leaves must be chopped or pounded with a pestle and mortar, making sombé a time-consuming dish to prepare and therefore one often reserved for special occasions
I am a big fan of rum – white or dark. I love its diverse flavours and versatility in a range of tasty cocktails. But to be entirely honest, my all-time favourite beverage is Fanta. Not just any Fanta, however, but the one found only in Africa.
I like the cool atmosphere at Ma Cabane Bambou. Their rum selection is outstanding and the owner incredibly nice. But it’s the customers who make the place so festive, quite like a bar on some sunny tropical island. Their specialities are rum cocktails, including Aphrodisiac based on fresh ginger, and The Meeting, an irresistible blend of rum, vanilla and cinnamon. You should also try their snacks like Creole sausage, samosas and the mixed platter – recommended for the hungry and adventurous.
MA CABANE BAMBOU
11 Rue du Prince Royal, Ixelles
My favourite restaurant is one I started myself. Hazewee à Laeken is a unique restaurant in Brussels. The principle is simple: a professional chef leads a motivated team made up of young jobseekers. They are very good at creating delicious dishes using fresh ingredients and they serve it at democratic prices in a friendly atmosphere. Then there’s Inzia, inspired by the famous Kinshasa restaurant. It combines Congolese cuisine with African art and a warm atmosphere. And if you enjoy world cuisine as much as I do, you won’t want to miss Couleur Café’s Great Market, featuring some 50 restaurants from around the globe.
We say: Couleur Café takes place between June 29 and July 1 at Tour & Taxis. The Great Market features specialities from everywhere from Iraq to Argentina
11 Avenue de l’Arbre Ballon, Laeken
31 Rue de la Paix, Ixelles