Africa has been featured on the media and branded synonymous with poverty ,war,malnutrition and corruption. While some of these are true,part of the solution lies in harnessing African culture and the naturally occurring African Food in existence.
African food are cultivated in African soil, nurtured by African weather and produced in Africa (which in a bias manner, I will say makes African delicacies mouthwatering) while others are imported and have their origin from elsewhere. Majority of Africans wouldn’t need any introduction to the common and most known African Food because Africans have a habit of cooking their neighboring countries favorite dishes,or if they haven’t cooked it before , they must have heard of it before.
Certain food are common to many regions, for example, rice features prominently in African cuisines,in fact most Africans do not feel that they have eaten if they do not eat rice, in addition wherever you are in Africa , to most Africans no meal is complete without a starchy porridge (known as fufu,ugali,tuwo,semonvita,eba,iwisa) depending on where you are from.
African food are colorful, interesting and could be some what alien to most foreigners. But I assure you that African food taste terrific. A well prepared local meal can be a highlight of your trip to Africa.
(Fact:traditional African food are generally cooked over an open fire or in a three legged pot)
The food of the North Africans has been heavily influenced by the ingredients bought by the traders , invaders and migrants. The Arabs introduced spices such as cinnamon,nutmeg,ginger and cloves. Sweet pastries were brought by the Ottoman Turks. Wheat and its by product,semolina where introduced early on. The Nomadic Berbers adapted semolina into couscous, one of the main staples of the region. Olives are also important harvest in the North African Region.
Lets check out how one of the oldest civilization in the world has made a massive impact in Africa.Not a lot of people know that Ancient Egyptians are not only famous for their ancient monuments, culture and revolution, but also for abundant tantalizing food. Egyptian food is a mixture of all the different civilizations that came to Egypt in the history of its existence, no where in the world would you be able to taste so many cultures in one plate, a lot of the Egyptian food relies heavily on vegetables and legumes rather than meats. The Ful Medames is one of the most common staple foods in Egypt, it consists of Lava Beans served with oil, garlic, and lemon juice. Ful Medames can be traced back to the of the Pharaohs, the word ‘Medames’ is Coptic for ‘buried’ which refers to the way it was initially cooked in a pot buried in hot coal or sand. Ful Medames can be served with many embellishments such as butter , tomato sauce , fried or boiled eggs.However the most traditional way is to eat it plain and salted in an Egyptian bread bun. Nowadays, Ful Medames is exported to many Middle eastern countries such as Saudi Arabia,Lebanon and Sudan. Ful Medames is also mostly favored by those practicing Ramadan looking for a good meal before the daily fast breaks.
The South and East Africans share a common and very similar cuisine, they mostly rely on grains, beans and vegetables, ground maize or corn is used as the basis for many meals, sometimes it is made into a dough ,this starchy staple is served with sauces and stews. Arab influences can be seen in East African cuisine, for example steamed rice served with spices such as cinnamon,saffron etc. Also the South and East Africans use orange , lemons and limes frequently to prepare meals, while other fruits such as mangoes, papayas and pineapples are eaten for dessert.
South Africa is one of the most common holiday destinations in Africa offering a highly diversified safari for your entertainment however, your enjoyment would not be complete without having a taste of South African food. South Africa is a large country at the Southern tip of the African continent. Early South Africans were mostly hunter-gatherers, they depended on foods such as tortoises, crayfish, coconuts, and squash to survive. Also popular treats in South Africa are dried fruits, eaten whole or ground into a paste. South African food is one of the most nutritious in the continent that will not only excite your taste buds, but at the same time,provide more nourishment than you bargained for. Below is a picture of one of the many amazing foods of South Africa.
On Good Friday, many Capetonians indulge in pickled fish oblivious has to where the tradition hails from. Some say they simply follow the accepted customs of their parents, while others prepare this delicacy because they consider eating meat on Good Friday as “unholy”. This rich meal is called The Cape Malay Pickled Fish. This is a traditional South African dish that puts an exotic spin on the normal fish dish. It is traditionally served during easter (Good Friday) with hot cross buns. It is made out of yellowtail, filleted with no bones, and skin left on one side. This is also a traditional pickled fish recipe that’s part of Cape Malay cuisine.
Somalia is situated in Eastern Africa, it forms the cap of the horn of Africa. Somalia was a colony of England France and Italy. The Somali cuisine has been influenced by the English, French and Italian cuisines. However traditional Somali foods are meat based, like other Muslims, Somali do not use pork in their diet and they don’t drink alcoholic beverages. In addition to meat, rice and banana are often used in Somali cuisine. Somali cuisine reflects the peoples clever use of scarce resources, people usually begin the day with a flat bread called Canjero or Laxoo, and either cereal made of millet or cornmeal, their midday meal consists mostly of noodles and rice, with sauce and perhaps meat. And lastly their evening meal is very light and might include beans or a salad with more Canjero. Cooking in Somali is usually done over an open fire.
The Somali Chicken Suqaar is a great dish that has a ton of flavours. It is not a difficult meal to make but it does have several steps and requires some multi-tasking. This dish can be eaten with rice or bread, this particular Suqaar is made of chicken , but it is not a compulsory ingredient, lamb and beef can also be used. Somali’s favorite meats are goat, camel, sheep or Lamb.
Last but not least, the cuisine of West Africa. Here people tend to rely on heavy starchy food which provide energy. An example of typical starchy food is fufu, this is made from root vegetables such as yams , cocoyams or cassava. It is normally accompanied by sauces or stews.
Next on we have Nigeria, the Nigerian cuisine consists of dishes or food items from the hundreds of ethnic groups that compromise the West African cuisines, it uses spices and herbs in conjunction with palm oil or groundnut oil to create deeply flavored sauces often made very hot with chili sauces. Nigeria has such a variety of people and cultures that it is difficult to pick one national dish. Each area has its own regional favorite that depends on customs tradition and religion. Nigerian food are diverse and exciting, they are often unrefined natural food, rich in dietary fibers. Nigerian food recipes come mainly from a selection of semi solid dough or boiled servings prepared from cassava, plantain, yam, beans, maize, or rice served with a typical Nigerian soup.
In Nigeria , Egusi and pounded yam are very popular among all the tribes they have, It is one of the most common dishes in Nigeria. Egusi soup can be eaten with much more than only pounded yam, like semolina , tuwo, eba etc. But pounded yam and Egusi soup is one of the most popular combinations in Nigeria. Pounded yam as the name implies, can be prepared by pounding boiled yam to pieces with a mortar till it has a stretchy and soft texture. Egusi soup is made of Egusi seeds, these are the fat and protein rich seeds of certain squash and melon plants. Egusi soup is a kind of soup thickened with ground seeds,water,oil and also leaf vegetables.
With this mouthwatering article, I believe most of my readers will be cooking African food in their kitchens by tomorrow 😉 !!! Africa is a very beautiful continent with delicious delicacies and dishes, the aspect Africans will never carry last is FOOD!
Executive Manager Afrokanist Magazine