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The most commonly eaten food in Sierra Leone is rice, which is typically served as part of every meal eaten, and is considered so ubiquitous that many Sierra Leoneans consider that a meal is not complete without it. Another popular staple food is cassava, which is pounded to make fufu; the leaves of the cassava are formed into a green stew. Palm oil and peanuts are also widely eaten, and while yams are found in Sierra Leone, they are not a mainstay of the diet as they are in other parts of West Africa.
Stews are a fundamental part of Sierra Leone's cuisine, with cassava leaves having been called the country's national dish. Stew is often served simultaneously with jollof rice, white rice or snacks such as plantain, akara, yam or cassava. Groundnut Stew, for example consists of chicken and vegetables that are flavoured with ground nuts, such as cashews and peanuts. This is often served to families as a large meal.
Cassava leaves are an important cooking ingredient in Sierra Leone and considered the primary staple food. In order to prepare them, the tenderest cassava leaves are washed, then either pounded very finely or bruised with a pestle and mortar, and then finely shredded before cooking. The leaves are added to palaver sauce, which is made using red palm oil, mixed with other ingredients, such as onions, pepper, fish, meat, and vegetables to create a stew. The stew is a favorite among Sierra Leoneans at home and abroad. To give the dish a more exquisite taste, coconut oil is used instead of palm oil.
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