Africa is a huge continent and each region and country of Africa has its own cooking traditions and recipes. More often than not these are an amalgam of native recipes and either Arabic or colonial influences.
It is almost impossible to capture the true flavours of Africa but you can get examples of the cuisines of each and every country and region in Africa from the Celtnet African Recipes site which has almost 1000 African recipes listed.
Below are two recipes. The first is a traditional African recipe from Ghana for Ashanti Chicken:
Ashanti Chicken Recipes
One whole chicken (about 1.3kg) de-boned 450g yams (or sweet potatoes) cut into quarters 450g chicken meat, no bones cooking oil for frying 1 small onion, chopped 1 tomato, chopped 1 tsp ground Ashanti pepper (use cubeb pepper if not avialable, but it will be more bitter) handful of chopped parsley a few mint leaves, chopped salt and black pepper to taste
Method Boil the yams (or sweet potatoes) until tender. When tender remove from the cooking water and mash. While the yams are cooking fry the chicken meat (not the whole chicken) in a few tablespoons of oil. When nearly done (about 25 minutes) add the onion and tomato. Reduce the heat and simmer until the chicken is completely cooked.
Add the chicken mixture to the cooked yam then add the Ashanti pepper, parsley, mint, salt and pepper. Mix well to completely incorporate.
Stuff the de-boned chicken with the yam mixture then sew the chicken closed with a needle and butcher's twine. Rub with butter, salt and pepper. Place in a large casserole dish with a tight-fitting lid, add a saucer or trivet and enough water to come up to he top of the trivet. Place in an oven pre-heated to 180°C and steam for two hours (top up the water every half hour or so).
Once done take the chicken out of the water, baste with butter and place on a roasting dish. Cover in foil, place back in the oven and bake for 40 minutes. Take the cover off the chicken and bake for a further 30 minutes.
The next recipe is quite different and though based on African flavours an African cooking methods it's not truly African in origin. It' an 'African Fusion' dish and shows what can happen when African techniques are applied to a French/Indian dish. This is based on a Swahili original from Kenya.
Curried Beef Gratin
For the Beef 2 tbsp pine nuts 1 medium onion, finely chopped 1 tbsp sunflower oil 900g lean minced beef 1 tsp salt 1 tbsp curry powder 3 tbsp apricot preserve or mango chutney 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice For the Custard 3 large eggs 30ml coconut milk 1 tsp salt 2 tsp soy sauce 1/2 tsp paprika generous pinch of chilli powder genreous twists of black pepper 3 bayleaves
Method: Toast the pine nuts in a dry pan until lightly browned and aromatic then set aside. Add oil to the pan and fry the onion until golden brown then add the minced beef and fry until well browned (about 3 minutes). Add the salt, pepper, curry powder, and apricot preserve or mango chutney and lemon juice. Stir and cook gently for 5 minutes before adding the toasted nuts. Transfer to a casserole or gratin dish and keep warm.
Meanwhile make the custard by whisking the eggs together in a bowl. Add the coconut milk and whisk into the egg mixture then add the salt, soy sauce, paprika, chili powder and black pepper. Mix well to incorporate all the ingredients and pour the custard over the meat mixture. Arrange the bayleaves on top and place the mixture in an oven pre-heated to 180°C. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until the top has set and is golden brown. Allow to cool for 5 minutes then serve with boiled rice and green vegetables.
I hope that you have gained a flavour of what recipes from Africa can offer to your cookery and that you will now explore this amazing culinary continent further.
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Dyfed Lloyd Evans is the crator of the <http://www.celtnet.org.uk/recipes/african-recipes.php">Celtnet African Recipes site. If these recipes have whetted your appetite then you need to get a copy of the The Recipes of Africa eBook which contains over 800 recipes from each and every country in Africa on 500 pages. Sales of this eBook go to helping the children of Liberian refugees gain an education