My repertoire of Cameroonian dishes is slowly expanding, most recently to zocalo, which is also called pile. I ate it for the first time in September, and just yesterday got around to trying it for myself. This simple, filling dish consists of mashed ripe plantain with beans. When I mentioned to some Cameroonian friends that I would be making it, they all wanted to come try some! The pot I made fed three children, me, the woman who sold me the palm oil to make it, and had some left for a couple other friends that were delighted to get a little. One commented that I'd done a good job, but could mash it a little more the next time—there were still a few chunks of plantain in it this time.

Some of the ingredients might be hard to find in the U.S. Jennie, one of the girls who tried some, told me that her mom has made it with potatoes. I could see that working, but I think yellow potatoes would be best. I used dried beans that I had already cooked, but canned beans should work just as well if you're in a hurry. Unrefined palm oil gives the dish a lovely orange color (unsurprisingly, it's high in Vitamin A, but also in cholesterol). I doubt you can find it, so some vegetable or olive oil and a bit of achiote (annato) or paprika might do the trick.

8-10 very ripe plantains
2 cups cooked red beans
1-2 onions, chopped roughly
3 tablespoons unrefined palm oil
salt, to taste

Peel the plantains and boil them until very soft. Meanwhile, cook the onion until translucent. When the plantains are easy to pierce with a fork, drain the water. Add the beans, onions, palm oil, and salt and use a potato masher to mash the plantains.

I served this with green beans and carrots that I simply diced and simmered a bit--the combination is fairly Cameroonian.

Bon appetit!