Gnamakoudji from Cureghem
You have missed something… We were there in a temporarily used space, where a lady of African origin made juice out of ginger… you must taste it! A little later we were standing in the streets of Cureghem with our mouths clenched. For the first time we drank a Gnamakoudji; allright. Literally translated it is a “chili water”, prepared by Madame Soumah from Cureghem.
Her full name is Soumah Kadiatou, and she comes from Guinea in West-Africa. Living for many years now in the Commune d’Anderlecht, she runs the “Foyer Féminin” in Cureghem, a self organised association mainly for women and girls, most of them with a migrant background. “I want to give something back to the Commune. I share what I know with others who need it”, she says.
In our case, she was so kind to share her secret on the ginger juice with us. One Saturday morning we met at her space in Cureghem for a Gnamakoudji workshop – here is what we learned:
Gnamakoudji is a ginger juice that originated in several West African states (namely Benin, Ivory Coast, Guinea and Senegal). The drink is hot, sweet and sour at the same time; to accentuate the individual flavours, the producers – often African women on the market stalls in the region – add chillies, sugar or lemon juice. Some, like Madame Soumah, add mint leaves and cloves, others add vanilla sugar and/or pineapple juice.
Peeling ginger is a mess and a wastage if you do it wrong. Therefore, you better break the ginger root into smaller pieces and soak them in water. The most common and at the same time most gentle way to peel ginger is to scrape the skin with a simple spoon or a conventional knife. The skin of ginger is very thin and peels off easily. Madam Soumah’s niece Madoussou drops the remaining peel into the water – this makes a delicious brew. Try for yourself!
Preparing the juice (for 5 people)
To prepare the juice, place about 200 g of ginger knobs in cold water for a few minutes and peel them as shown in the video above. Then crush the tubers with a mortar until they form a paste. Then about a litre of water is brought to the boil and poured over the ginger paste and a sliced lemon. Now is also the time to add mint and cloves, for example. To prevent the clove taste from becoming too intense, pour the warm water over the cloves without adding them to the brew itself. After an hour or so, strain everything through a sieve and divide it into a jug or even 4-5 glasses and put them in the fridge to cool. Your Gnamakoudji is best served ice-cold!
More than Gnamakoudji
Gnamakoudji is just one of the many drinks which, with the help of Madame Soumah and her colleagues, comes from the African continent through Cureghem right into the heart of Europe. Together with her colleagues, she also produces tamarind juice, hibiscus juice and special yoghurt, and prepares traditional food from Guinea and Côte d’Ivoire. If you pass by, you might also reveal the secret of what “simingunguri” means in the Susu language. Madame Zuma is definitely looking forward to your visit at her space near Plaine de Liverpool!
All Photos and Graphics in this Cureghem Tale have been produced by the syncity team. We thank Michael Anranter, Charlotte Fleischmann, Laura Lohmann, and Ina Ivanceanu for this tale. For further detail please contact us.