Here you can discover the wonderful flavours of Congolese cooking and meet Monique, daughter of the founder of the restaurant “Inzia” in Matonge. This is a restaurant, an art gallery, and also a venue for cultural events, such as readings and live music by African artists. Every other Saturday there is also rumba dancing.
Monique’s mother — Mama Helene Ekila, opened Inzia in the 1970s when Congolese restaurants couldn’t be found amongst the international choices. At that time these were Chinese, Thai, Vietnamese, Italian and even Polish restaurants.
The Congolese community in Brussels was in demand and Mama Helene Ekila was also missing good food from home.
She named her restaurant Inzia after a street in Kinshasa where her mother’s younger sister lived, who at the time had a little café called Tinganda. Inzia was in memory of the many happy times spent at her sister’s. Monique took over the management of Inzia in Brussels in 2003 when her own mother returned to run another Inzia restaurant back in Kinshasa.
In Brussels, Monique aims to follow her mother’s vision of authentic traditional family cooking. It is simple fare without an excess of seasoning that would overwhelm the basic ingredients. This way of cooking is healthy and delicious, practises minimal alteration and is careful to avoid artificial preservatives.
The chefs at Inzia prepare fish, meat and vegetables to concoct a range of dishes as vast as the Congo itself, which covers a huge area. It must be noted that each region has its own little specialities. Inzia tends to stick with the traditions of its own region — the equator — a province with a reputation for good food. They make the most straightforward traditional dishes to be found anywhere.
The most famous dish at Inzia-Brussels is Moambe Chicken. Moambe is a pulp made from palm nut fruit, which makes a rich sauce. This is cooked with the chicken and usually accompanied with white rice and manioc paste or fried plantain bananas, depending on the region. It is served with lots of little side dishes and is very popular. There is also a peanut version, which like in Asia, is called “satay” and is also much in demand. It can be made with goat, although this does not originally come from the Congo. However it has become so popular, it’s now commonly found on menus.

Monique prefers maboké – “en papillote”. You can cook anything you like wrapped in what are often called banana leaves — even though they are not really banana leaves. The food is placed inside many layers of leaves, which are then tightly closed. Originally these would have gone into a pot with a bit of sand in the bottom, which was then placed on the embers. Cooking on embers isn’t possible in the Brussels kitchen and so they steam the maboké, which contains fish, red or white meats… all sorts of things, and the result is excellent!
The dish that Monique particularly likes to cook is linked to a childhood memory. This is the dish that she ate in the village at her grandmother’s when she lived in Dambaka. Her maternal grandparents lived in the provinces and the family went to visit them at the weekends in her father’s pick-up truck. When they arrived they were covered with red dust. After they had washed off all the dirt they were rewarded with this wonderful meal. Monique will always remember the day her grandmother had prepared chicken en papillote with “gayégayé” — Congolese sorrel. It was the best meal she had ever eaten.
She also likes to cook with dried smoked fish, which we can sometimes find in shops. It is black and doesn’t smell very nice. But once they are cleaned and cooked with a sauce they taste as wonderful as freshwater fish en papillotes.
Today Inzia is there to break any prejudices that people might have before they have actually tasted African food. Monique also wants to promote African artists through exhibitions of their work, present books by African authors and give fortnightly concerts with Congolese rumba. A mission of building bridges and strengthening the ties that link hearts and minds between Belgium and the Congo.

Restaurant Inzia Bruxelles
37 rue de la Paix – 1050 Ixelles , Belgium
Tel +32485069737