African Cuisine: Main Features and Curiosities
This huge continent has a gastronomic variety of continental dimensions, how could it be otherwise? So, let's take a little walk through the details of this rich African cuisine?
Although it is difficult to speak of a single African cuisine due to the great geographical, political and cultural differences of this vast territory.
Next, we will explore the characteristics and curiosities that unite Africa through taste.
Come with us to discover this world of traditions and cultures, full of local fruits, cereals and vegetables.
Ethiopia to Morocco, Zimbabwe to Nigeria, Senegal to Egypt, check out African cuisine and its pleasures.
Next, we bring you a little of the history of food in Africa and 5 typical dishes that African cuisine offers us.
History of African Cuisine
Many theorists point to Africa as the cradle of all humanity. The history of African cuisine, therefore, can be considered as old as that of the people who live on their continent.
Animal husbandry and the cultivation of some plants date back to 6,000 B.C., as the climatic changes that caused the increase in the Sahara desert made hunting and gathering more difficult.
Tefé, millet, barley and sorghum are some of the plants that were domesticated in this period.
In the North, in the territory corresponding to Egypt, wheat, lentils and chickpeas were also cultivated during this period.
Since at least 5,000 BC, beers made barley have been formulated in Egypt.
Breeding of sheep, cattle and pigs (the latter brought China and India) has also been present since ancient times.
In 1500 BC, chickens were introduced and the wealthier people reduced their consumption of pork, which became a taboo (forbidden) for them.
In forest regions such as southern Sudan, tubers - especially yams - and dried fish are a traditional part of local cuisine.
The foods that were part of the African diet before the process of creation and cultivation continue to be present on its menu: figs, honey, peanuts, palm oil (palm oil) and fish are some foods in this example.
In the 17th century, rice and spices such as saffron, cinnamon, ginger and cloves were introduced to the continent by the Arabs, especially in the northwest.
Thus, North African food stands out for its smell: the whole region bathed by the sea
Mediterranean (Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya and Egypt) are characterized by the consumption of the spices mentioned and also fennel, rosemary, bay leaves and peppers.
The South African region, in turn, mixes local indigenous influences people like the Basotho and the Zulu, and Europeans like the Dutch and the British.
In this way, there are many ingredients local plants and game, usually cooked, at the same time that dehydrated sausages typically European are present.
And it was not only in Egypt that beer played an important role and was produced before the arrival of Europeans: in the South, beers based on sorghum and other grains were central to the social and nutritional life of the local people.
Characteristics of African Cuisine
To characterize some of the African cuisines, we will talk a little bit about the North, South, Central, East and West regions.
Central African cuisine is influenced by its mountainous landscape and tropical forest, and its main ingredients are plantains, manioc, rice and yams.
Central Africa is also one of the few regions on the continent that uses potatoes as one of its main food bases, as they grow easily in the region.
East Africa, in turn, is the region with the greatest geographical and geopolitical variety, which is reflected in its culinary variety.
In Ethiopia, spicy vegetables and meat dishes mark their diet.
A large, flat, doughy bread, usually made with fermented tefe flour, has an important presence, and the food should be brought to the mouth with the right hand.
The use of cutlery is uncommon, except to take the food with a spoon and place it on the bread, which will be handled by hand.
In Somalia, the cuisine has many Yemeni, Persian and Indian influences, while in Uganda the English and Arabs add to the local Asian influence.
North African cuisine has strong Mediterranean and Arab influences. However, it is the birthplace of dishes known worldwide such as couscous and tagine.
In South Africa, gastronomy is known as “rainbow cuisine”, due to its great mixture of flavors and cultures different indigenous ethnic groups.
In Botswana, nsima (a dough made corn flour) and mopane larvae play an important role on the local menu. In Madagascar, many fruits such as mangoes, peaches, pineapples and lychees are prominent.
Also in West Africa, many geographical and cultural differences make up the gastronomic scene.
In Sierra Leone, tapioca and fried fish make up the culinary base, while in Senegal the French influence is striking.
Nigeria, in turn, offers a very aromatic, spicy cuisine, with the striking flavor of palm oil.
Amarula, a drink much appreciated in Brazil, is a liquor originating in South Africa. It is made the juice of the fruit of the maruleira tree and sour cream.
Fruits are one of the most consumed food categories on the continent. In addition to nutrients, its large amount of water makes the hot climate more pleasant.
Chestnuts are also widely consumed: peanuts, almonds, pecans, walnuts and copra (the dried coconut pulp) are the most common.
The use of local ingredients and little known globally is very striking in African cuisine.
This gives this gastronomy exclusive flavors and foods adapted to the climate, which dispense with the need to import.
Typical African Cuisine Dishes
Tagine or tajine is a typical dish several countries in North Africa, and originally Morocco.
It is basically a stew or stew of vegetables and meat (most commonly lamb or chicken).
Its name refers to the pot used for cooking, made of painted or varnished baked clay.
Tangine - African Cuisine
The conical lid is essential to the preparation, as it ensures that the condensed steam returns to the bottom of the pan, and that cooking is carried out slowly.
2. Jollof rice
There is a great controversy about the origin of jollof rice, although it is indisputably West Africa.
Coming Nigeria, Ghana or Senegal, this is an extremely tasty rice.
Seasoned and cooked in tomato broth, it takes curry and thyme to finish. It should be served with fried plantains and coleslaw.
3. Moussaka (chicken with Moambe)
Well known, this traditional Congolese dish is prepared with roasted chicken, added to a thick sauce (also called butter or cream).
This sauce is made the pericarp of the chestnuts of the African palm (palm).
The word “moambe” refers to the reddish and creamy puree extracted these chestnuts.
The dish is assembled in alternating layers between chicken, sauce and vegetables in a refractory and goes to the oven to brown.
This form of dried and cured meat is originally South Africa. Several types of meat are used to produce this delicacy, such as beef, game and ostrich meat.
The fillet strips should be cut in the direction of the muscle fibers. Although it is very similar to Brazilian beef jerky, its process of making and the addition of spices differentiate it.
Like an African donut, these fried rolls are a striking recipe the coast of Swahili (Zanguebar).
With its sweet taste and its triangular shape, this soft roll can be added with coconut milk, almonds, peanuts and different ingredients that add flavor.
It is common that it is served with teas and fresh fruit juices, for your consumption as breakfast.
It is also common to eat dinner or dessert (in the latter case, it is served with powdered cinnamon and sugar, as in the case of Nigerian “puff-puff” cookies, which we know very well by “rain cookies”).