Cape Verde Island’s National Dish…Catchupa


Cape Verde Island’s National Dish…Catchupa

Catchupa or Munchup, is the National Dish of Cape Verde Islands.

There’s no better time of the year for catchupa.  It’s creamy, warm and comforting. It’s a complete meal in one, more than deserving of it’s rightful place in my pantry of staples. This one pot wonder is a perfect example of alchemy at work, with its reliance on lots of water, fire, earth (grain & legume) and air, as it’s released each time the lid is lifted and the stirring begins and ends.  From here, it’s quite simple to let nature takes its course, while stirring occasionally.

In many cultures and particularly in the Cape Verde Islands, dinner would be prepared before or alongside breakfast because most dishes are slow cooking foods like grains, legumes, or meat. Catcupa, being the slow food that it is, can take anywhere from 4-6 hours to cook, depending on your preference of texture. For the best results and more of a stew effect, the longer the better. My love for authentic ethnic foods started at home but because most Cape Verdean dishes are meat based for the most part, I’ve shied away from the possibility of preparing it without the flesh, until now.

Photo courtesy of Erich Smith

Catchupa’s main ingredient is hominy, Cape Verdeans simply call it, m’ndju (corn), a good source of vitamin A, fiber, amongst other nutrients. Despite the destruction of corn and the genetic modification factor, corn, in its organic state and with a contemplative practice, (a concept I touched on in a previous blog), is still man’s ancient grain with many health benefits and worth having once in a while. Hominy, or “harmony” is corn without the germ, hull, and bran and is also known in other forms as grits and samp. Hominy with lima beans gives you a complete low-fat protein meal, with the added benefits of fiber, iron, and manganese for the anti-oxidant protection that lima beans offer. With these two main ingredients, all else is optional and you can get as creative as you want. Adding greens and any other source of protein, gives you more calcium, iodine, vitamin A and other numerous vitamins and minerals. Catchupa will be an offering on our winter menu and if you are in the 19144 area and want a taste of the Cape Verde Islands, with an American twist, don’t hesitate to give us a call.

Leave us a comment