African food and taste are as diverse and colorful as the continent, yet African food is celebrated here in other parts of the world than at home.
In general, South Africans are not adventurous, especially when it comes to trying food from other parts of the continent, including West African cuisine.
But across our borders, there is an explosion of culinary excellence awaiting discovery.
West African cuisine may remain a mystery to many of us, but historically it is one of the most influential food cultures in the world.
For those looking to explore the wider world of West African cuisine, we recommend that you first try the five dishes that we believe are the most successful in terms of gaining popularity.
Kenkey is a typical Ghanaian dish made from fermented white corn, which is widely consumed nationwide by the Ga people in southern Ghana. Kenkey is made by fermenting mashed white corn.
To prepare it, the corn must first be ground into flour, mixed with warm water and then fermented into corn dough (2-3 days).
According to Food Info, the fermented dough is hand-kneaded until it is completely mixed and slightly hardened, then divided into two equal parts.
Partially simmer a portion of the fermented dough in a large saucepan for about 10 minutes, stir constantly vigorously, then mix well with the rest of the uncooked dough.
Half of the dough is cooked and called “Afrata”. Divide the mixture of afrata and dough into serving-sized pieces, wrap tightly in banana leaves, corn husks, or foil, place a packet of the wrapped dough in a wire rack over water in a large saucepan, and bring to a boil. Steam. Up to 3 hours, depending on size and thickness. The final product, Kenky, is served with sauce or fish or meat dishes.
Jollof rice is a legendary one-pot dish ubiquitous in Nigeria, Cameroon, Ghana, Liberia, Togo and Sierra Leone.
This is West Africa’s most popular party food and is gaining momentum elsewhere in East Africa. It’s a festive dish.
Eat it at parties, naming ceremonies, weddings, funerals – you name it, you will see the familiar and comforting pot of steamed jollof rice. Due to its popularity, there has been some debate about its origin.
What we know for sure is that it’s a great one-pot dish and it’s indisputable when everyone is pushing it into their throat.
Huff is a staple of many African countries. This version is made by fermenting, blending and cooking cassava (yuka root).
Believed to have been born in modern Ghana, it is offered in a family style in the form of a large round fabric. The dough is pulled by each guest and used to absorb the juice in the preparation of stews and soups.
It’s a true finger food, so it’s customary to eat it with clean hands.
Chicken Yassa is a delicious West African comfort food that the whole world needs to know. It is usually cooked with chicken, but it works like fish.
Chicken Yassa is made from chicken and marinated overnight with plenty of onions, mustard and lemon juice. This dish is easy to make, has a good aroma, looks beautiful and tastes good.
Egushi is the name of a protein-rich seed of a particular cucumber family plant (a plant of the cucumber and pumpkin family) and is used as a major ingredient in West African cuisine after being dried and ground.
Especially in Nigerian culture, egusi is very popular. It acts as a thickener for soups and stews, adding depth to most meals.
5 Appetizing West African Cuisine You Need to Try
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