A three-floor cultural association in Rato, the neighborhood just north of sleek Principe Real, Casa de Angola has for decades focused primarily on bridging Angolan and Portuguese cultures. Created in 1971 by Angolan students, it launched without state support and is still subject to some intrigue. “Some say that this was an Angolan masonry house because of some indicative symbols on the building,” says chef Paulo Soares, who moved to Lisbon in 1981.
In 1974 the house was destroyed by a bombing, an act that Soares believes was carried out due to either insanity or racism. After a period of abandonment, in which it was used as a squat by African families, the building was reconstructed with the help of the Angolan government.
Nowadays all three floors are dedicated to differing cultural expressions. At ground level there’s a charming restaurant with a few tables draped in colorful kanga fabric, and the walls are decorated with maps, paintings and photos of Luanda.
Under Soares’s eye, the kitchen reproduces the best of Angola, home to a gastronomy that depends on many grains and starches (especially sorghum, corn, beans and yam), fruit (particularly watermelon, baobab and tamarind), peanuts and palm oil, all cooked with techniques influenced by Mozambican, Brazilian and Portuguese methods.
A choice order here is the peito alto, a meat stew usually accompanied by okra and funge. Each table is stocked with Jindungo’s piripiri, farofa (toasted manioc flour) and the starter kitaba, a spicy peanut paste.
A rich cultural life resides on the other two floors, which house an auditorium, exhibition space, atelier and Kilombo, a non-profit venue related to Angola Today media. “Cinema, theater, music and poetry are often on the agenda,” say Miguel Sermão and Matamba Joaquím, two Lisbon-based Angolan actors involved in Casa de Angola’s cultural programming. “It has created a great legacy between Portugal and Angola.”