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5 Ways Africa Shaped World Cuisine

One thing that every visiting personnel to the continent will agree with about Africa is the fact that most traditional African cuisines are as authentic and diverse as the rest of the African cultures. In fact, African cuisines have for a long time been used as a guide to the creation of different recipes for local and international hotels.

Truly, the traditional African cuisines have a way of combining healthy eating with delight while ensuring that they naturally adhere to international dietary guidelines. Health professionals across the world are now advising nutritionists to incorporate most of these African foods into their diets.

Here are top 5 world cuisines that have been influenced by traditional African foods.

Brazilian Akaraje. Photo credit: Wikipedia

Akaraje

Also known as “Acaraje”, Akaraje is a special dish made from peeled beans mashed into a ball and then deep-fried in palm oil. This protein-filled dish is very common in West Africa and Brazil. It serves as both a religious offering to the gods and street food.

Once cooked, each Akaraje ball is split in half and stuffed with a spicy paste made from shrimp, ground cashews, palm oil and other ingredients. It can be served with a variety of other foods, including stew, vegetables, and more. Akaraje is a Yoruba word meaning “bread” or “pastry”.

The growing popularity of these traditional African cuisines goes to show that the eating habits of African slaves had a lasting influence on food culture in the world.

Many of the food items that came from Africa during the infamous transatlantic slave trade have become the preferred ingredients for internationally recognized recipes.

Central African Fufu. Photo credit: International Cuisine

Fufu

Fufu, a type of pancake prepared by boiling water and stirring in flour and other ingredients, is a common dish in South Carolina, especially among African-Americans. It was the staple diet for African slaves, who made hoecakes from it.

Over time, these hoecakes evolved into pancakes and hot water cornbread, which was similar to African millet bread. Fufu is also very common in East Africa, especially in Kenya where it is commonly referred to as “ugali”. It can be served with stew, vegetables or tea.

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Okra soup. Photo credit: Tori Avey

Okra

Also referred to as “Gumbo”, Okra is very common in France, Spain and America. Its popularity grew during the colonial era when slavery was at its pick. It is a popular stew made up of vegetables mixed with chicken, pork, shrimp, or crawfish, with Okra as the main ingredient.

The soup is gelled with powder from sassafras leaves that are at times used as home remedies for body aches and inflammations. Slaves in South Carolina used seeds from Okra plant to prepare coffee.

Homemade Jambalaya. Photo credit: Food52

Jambalaya

Jambalaya is a mixture of meat, rice and vegetables commonly served in Louisiana, U.S. It is a type of stew that originated in West Africa, where the majority of African slaves came from. The delicious dish gained popularity in the early 1920s due to its flexible recipe and affordability.

The name “Jambalaya” comes from the Provencal word “jambalaya”, meaning a mix-up, mish-mash, or “Pilau” in Swahili. Originally, the dish consisted of common ingredients such as rice, tomatoes, onions, bell peppers and meat, but new recipes have emerged over time, making it even more enjoyable.

Carolina peas and Rice. Photo credit: Dish Maps

Carolina peas and Rice

Also referred to as “Hoppin’ John”, Carolina Peas and Rice is a typical African diet commonly served in Southern America. It is a mixture of red cowpeas, rice, chopped onions and sliced bacon seasoned with salt.

Red cowpeas, which are the main ingredients in the Hoppin’ John’s recipe, originated in Africa and were among the staple foods for slaves in America. It is just one of the many heritage crops from Africa receiving a lot of attention from farmers, scientists and nutritionists across the world.

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