Saturday, February 4, 2012

Taste Africa: The Food

One of the most delightful things about Africa is the food! All over the Continent you will find delicious and delectable culinary treats. For now, we will focus on West Africa; specifically the English speaking countries of Ghana and Nigeria

Narrowing it down this far, doesn't limit us however, as the cusine from one country to the next is as varied as taking a foodie journey from Italy to Spain. Let us start with starch, the ubiquitous edible serving spoon found across many of the African nations bordering the Atlantic, also known as fufu. "Fufu is a thick paste usually made by boiling starchy root vegetables in water and pounding with a mortar and pestle until the desired consistency is reached." (Wiki)  Everyone has a favorite starch and mine happens to be pounded yam.

The importance of yam in Nigerian culture can not be underestimated. Hence this photo, which reflects the role that yams play in the local cuisine.

In most local and regional dishes, a starch is used to sop up the tantalizing drippings of the main meal.

A meal is not complete without some type of starch to compliment the sauces and stews.

Ghanaians are partial to kenkey and banku. Kenkey is made with fermented corn flour mixed with water; often steamed in banana leaf or corn husks like Mexican tamales!

Banku, however is made with a mixture of fermented cassava and plantain dough mashed into a sticky ball.

Northern Nigerians go for ground rice and the Southerners tend to prefer Eba.

A tangy fermented treat, Eba is made from gari meal or ground Cassava. This starchy tuber is, as you can see, related to the aformentioned yam.

Semovita is another specialty that abounds on West African plates. This more recent addition to the starch repertoire is made from wheat, and so it's not technically warranted a mention here. An age-old Yoruba specialty, however, is the distinctive Amala.

Amala is made from the flour of peeled and sun-dried yams ground and mixed with water. But the one starchy accompaniment loved by everyone is not a starch at all, it's plantain, a fruit!

 fried, boiled  or grilled like this Boli.

Thank goodness for the plantain tree which grows wild and abundantly all over the region, ready to satisfy the palates of all who are willing to taste Africa.


  1. you almost lured me for a future trip to Africa!

  2. Wonderful, Rosh. Do go, eat and be happy!

  3. you're making me hungry-o! I cook as much of this food as I can here in the midwest, but sometimes I have to make substitutions. My children have grown adicted to Iyan (I use the powder though). If I don't make it for a while, they start pestering me. They also love Okra (okra) stew. Yum Yum!

  4. Lol! Yetunde, I am thrilled to hear of your Iyan making in Ohio! That is some good stuff. I am determined to pound some of my own from a yam I bought at a Florida African market! I would love to know your recipe for Okro soup.



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