African cuisine

It is impossible to categorize “African food” just as it would be impossible to state the cuisine of any continent by one name. Africa is home to hundreds of different cultural and ethnic groups .This diversity is also reflected in the many local culinary traditions in terms of choice of ingredients, style of preparation and cooking techniques. Traders, travelers, invaders, migrants and immigrants also have influenced the cuisine of Africa.
A cuisine of meat
A cuisine of meat

It is impossible to categorize “African food” just as it would be impossible to state the cuisine of any continent by one name. Africa is home to hundreds of different cultural and ethnic groups .

This diversity is also reflected in the many local culinary traditions in terms of choice of ingredients, style of preparation and cooking techniques. Traders, travelers, invaders, migrants and immigrants also have influenced the cuisine of Africa.

From Central, East, North, Southern and West Africa each have their own distinctive dishes, preparation techniques, and consumption mores. For example, a typical West African meal is heavy with starchy items, meat, spices and flavors.

A wide array of staples is eaten across the region, including those of Fufu. Fufu is often made from starchy root vegetables such as yams, cocoyams, or cassava, but also from cereal grains like millet, sorghum or plantains. Although today corn has gained significant ground as it is cheap, swells to greater volumes and creates a beautiful white final product that is greatly desired.

In central African, cooking has remained mostly traditional and a bit free of culinary influences of the outside world.

Fufu-like starchy foods usually made from cassava roots are served with grilled meat and sauces tops the list of this part of the continent. Cassava leaves (Isombe) are also consumed as cooked greens.

The cuisine of East Africa varies from area to area. But ugali seems to be on all menus, Ugali (Maize cake) the East African version of West Africa’s fufu is mostly eaten with meats or stews. In Uganda, steamed, green bananas called matoke ranks high on their carte du jour.

When the Arabs settled in the coastal areas of East Africa, they introduced steamed cooked rice with spices. The British and the Indians came, also and brought with them their foods, like Indian spiced vegetable curries, lentil soups, chapattis and a variety of pickles.

Earlier the Portuguese had introduced techniques of roasting and also use of spices turning the bland diet into aromatic stewed dishes. Now, all these are common elements of East African food.

Going up to the Horn of Africa, the main traditional food here is the tsebhis (stews) served with injera. Injera is made out of a variation and/or blend of: teff, wheat, barley, sorghum and corn and resembles a spongy, slightly sour pancake. Numerous injera are layered on this tray and topped with various spicy stews.

Diners then break into the section of injera in front of them, tearing off pieces and dipping them into the stews.
As for the North Africa, the most common staples are meat, seafood, lamb, dates, almonds, olives, various vegetables and fruit.

Because the region is predominantly Muslim, only ‘halal’ meats are usually eaten. Most dishes are spiced, especially with cumin, ginger, paprika, cinnamon and saffron.

Here in Rwanda a good number of people especially in the countryside like eating ubugali, but also enjoy fresh food like sweetpotato, cassava, with fresh been peas or g-nut stew.

In Kigali restaurants, locals and expatriates eat a variety of international cuisine, including Indian Chinese Italian and French.

Whatever you eat, just remember that to eat is a necessity, but to eat intelligently is an art. When diet is wrong medicine is of no use. When diet is correct medicine is of no need.

martin.bishop18@yahoo.com

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