African cooking is not just chicken and rice, but the continent acctually holds many different and exciting dishes that are not yet well-known outside the continent.
We can say that some understanding of African style cooking lies in the continent's blend of various regions diversity, expression of history and vast African population. There are many influences that have been brought in by for example Indian minorities living all around the continent.
For me African cuisine is also a reflection of various collections of influences and ways that the many different ethnic groups make dishes, preparation techniques, cooking methods as well as the different eating and drinking habits.
It's fascinating how innovation and technique contributed through cultural interaction and adaption of the use of some introduced foods from other cultures and incorporating them with their own.
Amongst some of my favourates African style dishes when are spiced red kidney beans served with green vegetables and some sadza (kind of maize porridge) and a few spoons of tasty green chilli on the side. Lentils, matapa (leaves of cassava plant) are also among some of my local African favourate dishes.
Sadza as a matter of fact, is an interesting dish, because similar porridge is prepared in several other African countries with different names. For example in Zambia it's nshima, in Tanzania ugali, in Ghana sakoro. But it's good to taste them all, as despite these dishes are similar, they are not the same.
This maize meal is considered very traditional and it's roots are in fact deep in the history despite the fact that maize was introduced from abroad between the 16th and 17th century. Before this period people were mainly farming cassava, sorghum and millet, but maize was quickly accepted by the farmers as it grew in a similler way as the other grain crops.
But back to different great African dishes. I also greatly enjoy fresh Mozambique tiger prawns, served with coconut rice. This dish is really tasty and great!
I would also use this opportunity to point out the special features of Mozambican cuisine, that is justifiably famous. First of all tropical fruits grow very well in the country which makes it really a heaven of fresh fruits. Mozambique has also a special seafood culture and seafood also forms a large part of the local diet, as it is abundant and quite affordable.
Mozambican cuisine is also a happy mix of different cultural influences. As early as the 700's the Arab traders were already sailing along the coast. Among ingredients brought by the Arabs were onions, bay leaves, garlic, fresh coriander, paprika, certain chilli peppers, sweet peppers and wine. Later on the Portuguese have influenced the food culture of Mozambique.
I first traveled to Mozambique as a young man in the early 90's and since then I have loved the Mozambican kitchen.
As said, African cusine is so varied I believe there is something for everyone to try this delicious culinary journey that may stimulate and suit your taste buds! We are offering a short journey into African kitchen on our Cooking course and Nordic meets Africa Expeditions.
Cover photo: Mozambican seafood served by Costa del Sol Restaurant in Maputo by Rick McCharles/Flickr