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The various culinary arts of Africa use a combination of locally available fruits such as cereal grains and vegetables, as well as milk and meat products in the traditional way. In some parts of the African continent, the traditional diet features an abundance of milk, curd and whey products. Central Africa, East Africa, North Africa, Southern Africa and West Africa each have distinctive dishes, preparation techniques, and consumption methods. Indeed! A lot of African dishes are well spiced and properly garnished; not just for a mouth watering aroma and inviting presentation but also for a healthy and delicious meal. Africans don’t just eat; Africans eat healthy.

Central Africa stretches from the Tibesti Mountains in the north to the vast rainforest basin of the Congo River, the highlands of Kivu and the savana of Katanga. This region has received culinary influence of the Swahilis (a culture that evolved via the combination of Bantu, Yemeni, Omani and Indian cultures) during the East African Slave Trade. The influences of Swahili culinary can be found in dishes such as: mandanzi, pilaf rice, kachumbari, sambsusa , kuku paka, etc.

Madesu Beans is an essential supply

Central African culinary art has also been influenced by the Portuguese, by way of the Kongo and Ndongo Kingdoms. Salt fish was introduced following trade in the late XVIIth and the Kikongo term for salt fish, makayabu, comes from the term bacalhau (ba-cal-ha-u). The Portuguese culinary influence is especially prominent in Angola, Sao Tomé and Equatorial Guinea. Central Africa has also been influenced by the culinary art of the regions East, West and Southern Africa because of their close proximity. i.e: Babuté/ Bobotie is shared with the south, nyama choma with the east and gombos with West Africa.
The Ntaba Central African-style lamb barbecue: The main ingredients are plantains, cassava, rice, kwanga (cassava dumpling) and yam .The “Fufu -like” starchy foods (some of these food types include some of the so called “swallow or solid foods” and “pap-like or custard-like” foods) are usually made from fermented cassava roots, but they can also be made with plantain, corn maize and yam. Fufu is served buffet style with grilled meat, fish, stews, greens and piment . A variety of local ingredients are used while preparing other dishes like spinach stew cooked with tomato, peppers, chillis, onions, and peanut butter.


Eastern central Africa is also one of the few regions in Africa that uses potatoes as one of its main bases of food, since potatoes grow easily in the region. Cassava plants are also consumed as cooked greens. Groundnut also known as peanut stew is also prepared, containing chicken, okra, ginger, and other spices. Another commonly served dish is bambara (a porridge of rice), peanut butter and sugar. Chicken and fish are favorite meat dishes, but game meat preparations containing crocodile, elephant, antelope and warthog are also occasionally served. The culinary art of East Africa varies from a particular geographic region to another geographic region. In the inland savannah, the traditional culinary art of cattle-keeping peoples is distinctive because meat products are generally absent. Cattle, sheep, pigs and goats were regarded as a form of currency and a store of wealth, and are not generally consumed as food.

In some areas, traditional East Africans consume the milk and blood of cattle, but rarely the meat. Elsewhere, others are farmers who grow a variety of grains and vegetables. Maize (corn) is the basis of ugali, the local version of West and Central Africa’s “Fufu”. Ugali is a starch dish eaten with meats or stews. In Uganda, steamed green bananas called matoke provide the starch filler of many meals.

The Omani and Yemeni merchants settled on the Swahili Coast around 1000 years ago. The influences of the Middle East are especially reflected in the Swahili culinary art of the coast – steamed or cooked rice with spices in Persian style; saffron, cloves, cinnamon and several other spices; and pomegranate juice. Several centuries later, the British and the Indians came, and both brought with them foods such as Indian spiced vegetable curries, lentil soups, chapattis and a variety of pickles which have influenced various local dishes. Some common ingredients used in this region include oranges, lemons, limes, chillis, capsicum peppers, maize, tomatoes, and strawberries.
In the Horn of Africa (a peninsula of Africa which juts into the Arabian Sea), the main traditional dishes in Eritrean culinary art and Ethiopian culinary art are tsebhis (stews) served with injera (flatbread made from teff, wheat, or sorghum) and hilbet (paste made from legumes, mainly lentils and fava beans). The Eritrean and the Ethiopian culinary arts (especially in the northern half) are very similar, given the shared history of the two countries.
Eritrean and Ethiopian food habits varies from region to region. In the highlands, injera is the staple diet and is eaten daily among the Tigrinya. Injera is made out of teff, wheat, barley, sorghum or corn, and resembles a spongy, slightly sour pancake. When eating, diners generally share food from a large tray placed in the center of a low dining table. Numerous injera is 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.

Kitcha fit-fit

Meanwhile, in the lowlands, the main dish is akelet, a porridge-like dish made from wheat flour dough. A ladle is used to scoop out the top, which is filled with berbere and butter sauce and surrounded by milk or yoghurt. A small piece of dough is broken and then used to scoop up the sauce.

Injera (a pancake-like bread) served with several kinds of
wat (stew)

The best known Ethio-Eritrean culinary consists of various vegetable or meat side dishes and entrées, usually a wat, or thick stew, served atop injera, a large sourdough flatbread made of teff flour. One does not eat with utensils, but instead uses injera to scoop up the entrées and side dishes. Tihlo, which is prepared from roasted barley flour, is very popular in Amhara, Agame, and Awlaelo (Tigray). Traditional Ethiopian culinary employs no pork or shellfish of any kind, as they are forbidden in the Jewish and Ethiopian Orthodox Christian faiths.Eating from the same dish in the center of the table with a group of people is a common practice. This portrays an example of the relational attitudes of the African people.

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