A Taste of Africa: The Continent of Many Cuisines
Being the second-largest continent, Africa is home to over one billion people from many tribes, groups and cultures. This diversity is evident in African cuisine - you can see it from the ingredients used to the various flavour fusions and influences. African cuisine may be diverse, but one factor always remains the same - it prioritises local - locally-sourced fruits, vegetables, grains, beans, milk, and meat products.
The foods consumed in different parts of Africa vary drastically. While milk and curd are mass consumed in one region, other regions cannot produce milk due to diseases in cattle. Grains are a staple in Eastern Africa, whereas meat and beef are popular in Central Africa.
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Now, let’s take a detailed look at the different types of food in various parts of Africa.
North African countries include Egypt, Tunisia, Algeria, Libya, Sudan, and Morocco. These are the countries lined along the Mediterranean Sea, and you might find their cuisine familiar. Wheat and semolina couscous and fava beans falafel are the staple dishes. Tunisia serves Arabian baklava and shakshuka.
East African countries include Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, Madagascar, Mozambique, Comoros, and Mauritius. People in the inland savannah raise cattle not for consumption but as a symbol of wealth. They consume milk but rarely have meat. One of the most common dishes is Ugali, a smooth and thick porridge made from cornmeal or millet. Another dish is made from steamed green bananas and is called Matoke. Mozambique’s cuisine has a mix of Portuguese flavours as Piri Piri sauce is a common condiment.
Central African countries include the Central African Republic, Chad, The Democratic Republic of Congo, and Zambia. This is the African heartland, and the food here has remained traditional. Plantain and cassava are the main ingredients in the diet. A starchy paste made from fermented cassava roots accompanies sauces and grilled meats. Nshima is a thick porridge made from ground cornmeal sweetened with milk for breakfast, and Ifisashi is another dish consisting of leafy greens like collards or spinach cooked in a peanut sauce.
West African countries include Senegal, Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Sierra Leone, and Ivory Coast. A typical West African meal consists of starchy foods and very light meat. Fufu, a semi-solid paste made from root vegetables like yams or cassava, is served alongside soups and stews. Seafood is often consumed, and it is occasionally mixed with either goat meat or chicken. Among beverages, palm wine is a popular choice.
South African cuisine is a mixture of local and foreign influences. The food consists of game meat like antelope or ostrich cooked European style with Indian spices. Seafood is a beloved cuisine, and fresh fruits and vegetables are often served during mealtime.
Popular Regional Dishes
Some of the popular African dishes and their recipes are:
- Pap en vleis/Shisa nyama, South Africa
- Peri Peri chicken, Mozambique
- Jollof rice and egusi soup, Nigeria
- Bunny chow, South Africa
- Kapenta with sadza, Zimbabwe
- Chambo with nsima, Malawi
- Namibian venison, Namibia
- Muamba de Galinha, Angola
- Cape chicken breyani, South Africa
- Zanzibari biryanis and pilaus, Zanzibar
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