Africa Food and Drink
African cuisine is the catch-all term for all the cuisines of Africa. With hundreds of different cultural groups and myriad cooking traditions, it is impossible to isolate one particular form of cuisine and call it African. There is, however, an emphasis is on using locally available fruits, vegetables, grains and milk products.
The various cuisines of the continent can be broken up into geographical areas. The cuisine of East Africa focus on grains and vegetables, with meat rarely consumed. Maize is the primary ingredient in ugali which is the national dish of Tanzania. In Uganda, one of the most popular dishes is matoke, a dish of steamed green bananas. Pomegranate juice is widely consumed in East Africa.
Central African cuisine includes ingredients such as cassava and plantains. Spinach stew, peanut stew and bambara which is a porridge like dish of peanut butter, rice and sugar, are all very popular. Game meats such as monkey, warthog and crocodile are common sources of protein.
The Horn of Africa is home to the increasingly popular Ethiopian cuisine. Famous chefs such as Marcus Samuelsson have helped to bring Ethiopian cuisine to North America, and now traditional dishes such as wat, which is a thick stew, and injera, a sourdough flatbread, are common.
Southern African cuisine is a melting pot of African cuisines with European and Asian influences. A traditional dish is Potjiekos, a stew which is a stew of meat and vegetables cooked in a cast iron pot suspended over coals. Beer has traditionally been ubiquitous in South African cuisine, though mageu is a popular non-alcoholic drink that is made from mealie pap that has been fermented. Boboti is the national dish, made with baked spiced meat with an egg-based topping. Of course South Africa is also widely known for their wine exports and world famous wineries.
Western African cuisine is heavily dependent on starches and aromatic spices, though chilies and tomatoes are also widely consumed. Couscous is popular, so is fufu, a thick paste made from grinding starchy vegetables or grains. Jollof rice is very popular; a dish including rice, tomatoes and spices. Water, palm wine and millet beer are common beverages.
The cuisine of North Africa is influenced by the Mediterranean. Meat stews prepared in urns are popular in several countries, and in Egypt koshari, a dish of pasta, lentils and rice is considered to be the national dish. Also popular is Egypt is ful medames, a dish of mashed fava beans. Interestingly, falafel originates in Egypt.
African cuisine is as varied as the continent itself. A culinary tour of Africa involves myriad exotic spices, game meats, starches, ancient grains and fermented beverages. Cultural cooking techniques have been preserved for thousands of years and while African cuisine has been influenced to a small degree by the outside world, it remains very much as it has since the beginning of time.