A Taste of West African Cuisine

African cuisine
Photo by Antony Trivet from Pixabay

Although many people don’t know much about it, Africa is a continent full of diverse, vibrant, and rich flavors which are represented in the many types of African food. The flavor of North African food usually comes from harissa, preserved lemon, couscous, and dukkah, among others. Ingredients like lentils, chilis, ginger, cardamom, injera, and berebere can be found in East African food. While both of these cuisines are flavorful and rich, we will be focusing on West African cuisine which primarily consists of rice, wood-fired meat, plantains, and scotch bonnets (hot peppers).

Nigeria — Moin Moin

Moin Moin is a steamed bean pudding made from black-eyed peas, onions, and a combination of freshly ground peppers. This is a very versatile dish and can be eaten on its own or with bread, smoked fish, beef liver, or rice.

Cameroon — Ndole

Ndole is a fragrant, vibrant dish made from bitter leaves that have been cooked several times to make them lose their bitterness, alongside stewed nuts, crushed spices, and fish or beef. It is usually served with rice, potatoes, or plantains.

Senegal — Thieboudienne

The main ingredients of thieboudienne are fish and tomato sauce. Its unique flavor comes from spiced onions, carrots, cabbage cassava, and peanut oil. A dish from the deep south is quite similar to this, which is called Savannah red rice which is made by many Creole people.

Ivory Coast — Kedjenou

Kedjenou is a slow-cooked spicy stew made in a terracotta pot over coals or fire. While the main ingredient is usually fowl or chicken, it responds very well to adaptations. Many starches pair well as a side to this, but most commonly attieke is paired with kedjenou.

Ghana — Waakye

In Ghana, waakye is commonly served for breakfast but can be enjoyed throughout the day. This flavorful, delicious dish is made from beans, ground cassava, stew, spaghetti, and rice. It is usually served with some form of protein such as eggs, meat, or fish. To bring this to the next level, you can add spiced plantain and vegetable salad.

Gambia — Superkanja

Variations of superkanja are found all over West Africa. This is a flavorful and extremely healthy okra stew. It features spinach, okra, sweet potato leaves, and collard greens, which are then combined with chili peppers, onions, and meat or fish.

While there isn’t enough time in the world to cover all African cuisine in one article, I think this is a good place to start. In Seattle, there are many African restaurants you can try if you want to enjoy a taste of something different.