Imagine being able to taste the past and present, the love and the suffering, energy and song of one nation, all in one bite. With spices, preparation methods passed down through the family, meat and indigenous vegetables and fruit, have African foods managed to do exactly that. Here is a list of seven traditional African dishes that are still being enjoyed today.
This dish consists of a hollowed out loaf of bread filled with curry. A small portion of bunny chow uses only a quarter loaf of bread and is sometimes called a kota. The most popular fillings are made out of mutton or lamb, chicken, with beans and chips with curry gravy, although the original bunny chow was vegetarian. These are often served with grated carrot, chili and onion salad, known as sambals. The most characterizing thing about this dish is the moment when the gravy from the curry filling soaks into the walls of the bread. It’s not uncommon the share a single bunny chow.
This one-pot rice dish consists of rice, tomatoes, tomato paste, salt, onions, chili peppers and spices- nutmeg, ginger, cumin. If you want you can add vegetables, meat or fish to the dish. The dish is always red in color, due to the tomatoes and palm oil used in it. Jollof rice can be eaten with salad or coleslaw instead of meat. Even though, the main ingredient is rice, tomatoes play a large part in this dish, giving it vitamins and minerals with the carbs of the rice.
Bobotie is made out of ground meat baked with an egg-based topping. African foods incorporate everything near them, so they use mainly beef and lamb. Earlier recipes said to add ginger, marjoram and lemon rind, but when the curry powder arrived, the recipe was simplified. Bobotie incorporates dried fruit- raisins or sultanas, but now it’s garnished with walnuts, bananas or chutney. The dish is pretty bland and not spice, so you can incorporate a variety of flavors to add volume and complexity. For the topping, a baked egg mixture is used.
This dessert consists of a sweet pastry crust with a creamy filling made from milk, flour, sugar and eggs. Cinnamon is often sprinkled on top of the melktert. You can even add a cinnamon stick to the milk for the custard. There are two different ways of preparing this dish- you can bake the custard into the crust or prepare the custard in advance and then just place it in the crust before serving.
The preparation is simple- you boil the flour in water into porridge, then you ‘paddle’ it, to create a thicker paste while adding flour. Nshima is almost always eaten with two side dishes or relishes- one is a protein source, so meat, poultry, fish, peanuts or beans, and the other is vegetables, often pumpkin leaves, amaranth leaves, or mustard leaver or even cabbage.
African foods are quite simple, so nshima is eaten with bare hands! Make a ball of a lump of nshima, in your right hand, and dive into the delicious relish.
This snack is very similar to a doughnut. They are made of dough containing flour, yeast, butter, sugar, eggs and water, then they’re deep fried in vegetable oil. When they get that wonderful gold color, you take them out of the oil and roll them into any spice you want- cinnamon, sugar, vanilla, nutmeg. Puff puff is usually served with a fruit dip- strawberry or raspberry for that taste of rich goodness.
This one is made out of grounded ogbono seeds. Ogbono is commonly known as wild mango. Besides the seeds, palm oil, water, meat (beef, goat, fish, chicken..) and seasonings are used. For the seasoning you can use chili peppers, leaf vegetables, or other vegetables- tomatoes and okra. It can be eaten with fufu, yam or rice.
African culture of foods are special, because it does not import any food, it uses everything that is near it and succeeds in making in taste amazing. That’s why it’s so amazing!