Published By: Puja Sinha

Here's What to Include in Diet from the Rich and Diverse African Cuisine

The cuisine is a testimony to the rich history of the continent that was once subjected to colonial expansion and influences.

African cuisine relies on fresh, locally sourced ingredients such as grains like millet and sorghum, tubers like yams and cassava, and an array of aromatic spices and herbs. The cuisine is a testimony to the rich history of the continent that was once subjected to colonial expansion and influences.

The arrival of Europeans in the 15th century introduced new crops like maize, cassava, peanuts, and chilli peppers from the Americas. Africans taken as slaves carried their culinary traditions to the Americas, where African ingredients and cooking styles mingled with local and European traditions. African culinary ingredients are minimally processed, preserving their nutritional value.

A Stock of Culinary Favourites

The rich accumulation of herbs, spices, veggies, fruits, grains, and legumes make the cuisine a relevant and healthy option.

Plantain Puff Puffs

Typically enjoyed as a dessert, the dish could be served at breakfast or as an evening snack too. Plantain Puff Puffs are a delightful West African snack that combines the sweetness of ripe plantains with the light, airy texture of traditional puff puffs. Originally a street food, the crispy exterior with a soft, fluffy interior, offering a delicious blend of sweetness and slight spice has high nutritional value. It has proteins, fibres, vitamins A and C, and essential minerals like potassium and magnesium.

Fossolia (Ethiopian-Style Green Beans)

Green beans remain the key focus of fossolia, and is often accompanied by carrots, spices like berbere—an Ethiopian speciality, and tomatoes. Fossolia is typically served as a side dish alongside injera (a traditional Ethiopian flatbread) and a variety of other Ethiopian dishes like Misir Wat (spiced lentil stew). Fossolia is replete with essential vitamins, minerals, and fibre, making it a healthy addition to regular meals. This dish is apt for various occasions and could be prepped whether as a side dish, main course, or part of a festive meal.

Air-Fryer Crispy Chickpeas

Chickpeas are packed with antioxidants like vitamins C and E; vitamins and minerals, including folate, iron, magnesium, and potassium; dietary fibre, and carbs. To sizzle up your daily intake of chickpeas, try canned chickpeas fried in air fryer and sprinkle some African heritage spice blend. Many prefer curry powder and cayenne pepper to bring about the unique flavour. This snack could be eaten with salads or without any accompaniments.

Fonio Porridge

Fonio is a small, ancient grain native to West Africa, cultivated for thousands of years. It is considered one of the oldest cultivated grains and is highly valued for its nutritional benefits: gluten-free, high in essential amino acids, and a good source of important vitamins and minerals, such as B vitamins, iron, and zinc, which look after energy production, immune function, and brain health. The porridge could be eaten with sliced bananas, apples, and dried fruits besides nuts and seeds. To do away with the sweetness, you may add a pinch of salt, pepper, and herbs. Cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla extract to the cooking liquid for a warm, spiced flavour.

Spiced Chickpeas & Sweet Potatoes with Herby Yogurt

Spiced Chickpeas & Sweet Potatoes with Herby Yogurt is not a traditional African dish but rather a fusion dish that incorporates ingredients and flavours commonly found in African cuisine. It fuses elements from various culinary traditions to create a delicious and nutritious meal. The dish has a vast range of flavours. The sweet potatoes lend a sweet, creamy flavour, while the spices coriander, paprika, cumin, and turmeric explain the warm, earthy flavours. This satisfying and nutritious meal celebrates the diversity and richness of African culinary influences and could be served as the main course.