It’s always fun to explore unfamiliar global cuisines and experience flavors and ingredients that are new to you. When someone says “Let’s get Italian or Chinese,” everyone has a good idea of what types of foods they’re talking about. But when someone says “Let’s get African food,” what does that mean?
African cuisine is an umbrella term for all the cuisines of Africa. The continent has hundreds of different cultural groups and culinary traditions so there is no one picture of what African food looks like. The range of climates and growing conditions leads to a diverse set of ingredients as African food is usually centered on locally available foods. That also means that with all the fruits, vegetables, and grains, African cuisine can be satisfying and healthy.
It is easiest to break down the foods by region. In North Africa, we see foods influenced by the Mediterranean, migrants, invaders and traders. There is couscous, lentils, rice and pasta. Stews are prepared in urns, there are many spices, olives and sweet baked goods. Falafel actually originated in Egypt. East African cuisine is rich in vegetables and grains with little meat. Maize is a main ingredient as are green bananas and pomegranates.
The cuisine of Central Africa includes cassava and plantains and stews made with greens, peanuts, and rice. Ethiopian cuisine comes from the Horn of Africa and has become very popular recently. One of the most well-known foods is injera, the flatbread made from teff. Southern Africa is a mix of African, European and Asian influences with stews, beers, and wines. Western Africa centers on starches, spices, chiles, and tomatoes.
Now that you know a bit about African cuisine, let’s take a trip together to experience some delicious vegan African and African-inspired dishes.
1. Slow Cooker North African Couscous
Root vegetables are dominant in African cuisine. Add them to the spicy laden flavors of North Africa and you get some really good food. This Slow Cooker North African Couscous is rich in flavors and so easy to prepare. Vegetables and spices go in the crock pot. At dinner, serve over infused couscous.
2. Nigerian Ogi
Ogi, which is also called pap and akamu, is a custard or porridge made using the raw, fermented starch from ground white or yellow maize. This Nigerian Ogi has a distinct sour taste and goes great with akara (black-eyed pea balls), moin moin (black-eyed pea pudding), fried plantains or puff puff (fried African donuts).
3. Delicious Roasted Veggie Moroccan Tagine
What’s not to love about perfectly roasted veggies, delicious rich tomato and harissa gravy in the theatre of the tagine? This Delicious Roasted Veggie Moroccan Tagine will transport you to Africa with its authentic flavors and spices.
4. Nigerian Yam and ‘Egg’
Yam and egg is a staple in most Nigerian households. This Nigerian Yam and ‘Egg’ is a vegan version of the iconic dish. Easy to make, this dish is perfect for breakfast, lunch OR dinner. Anything really is possible in the world of vegan cooking and with a touch of adventure and experimentation in the kitchen, there’s no reason to miss out on anything.
5. Harira Soup With Hummus Pitas
Even if you’ve never been to North Africa, this Harira Soup will make you feel like you have. This authentic soup is so hearty it’s pretty much a stew, and the pitas and hummus make it a nice, filling meal. If you want some extra spice to it, feel free to throw in some cayenne pepper or a minced chili.
6. Raw Moroccan Vegetable and Chickpea Stew with Spicy Orange Cauliflower Couscous
This spiced Raw Moroccan Stew is sure to tantalize your taste buds. It’s filled with savory tomatoes, sprouted chickpeas, and dried fruit and vegetables all married together by traditional flavors of cumin, turmeric, cinnamon and lemon. And if that isn’t enough, it’s also paired with spicy cauliflower couscous with oranges, cranberries and walnuts and a side of kale.
7. Malted Plantain Pancakes
Plantains are a commonly eaten food in Africa and are the inspiration for these Malted Plantain Pancakes. Sweet and fluffy, they’re almost more of a dessert than a breakfast food. Waking up to these pancakes is such a treat, you’ll be up long before the alarm clock goes off.
8. Moroccan Miso, Lentil, and Pumpkin Soup
This Miso, Lentil and Pumpkin Soup is inspired by the fresh, vibrant flavors of Morocco. Although it’s not a traditional Moroccan ingredient, the addition of miso paste gives the soup a deeper, more umami flavor. The spice blend will instantly transport you to the exotic land of North Africa.
9. Plantain Dumpling Soup
In Africa, plantains are often cooked in stews. For a bit of a twist, try this hearty Plantain Dumpling Soup. The flavors are perfectly balanced – a bit of heat from fiery green chiles, sweetness from the plantains, a delicate aroma from fresh lemongrass…need we go on?
10. Chermoula-Spiced Karantita and Pomegranate Salad
Chermoula is a North African marinade of oil, lemon juice, pickled lemons, herbs, garlic, cumin, and salt. This Chermoula-Spiced Karantita is a great way to experience these flavors and jazz up your usual breakfast. It’s accompanied by a bright and zesty pomegranate salad. This is a dish of late-morning sunshine and sea — full of enticing, warm, and satisfying flavors.
11. Kale Fattoush
Fattoush is a bread salad that is made from toasted or fried pieces of pita bread combined with mixed greens and other vegetables, such as radishes and tomatoes. This Kale Fattoush is a fresh and healthy take on the Egyptian classic. This salad is ready in just 15 minutes, bursting with flavor, full of goodness and adaptable for any meal.
12. Seitan Tagine With Apricots and Dates
Tagine is a traditional Moroccan meat stew that’s cooked in a “tagine,” a type of cooking vessel from which the dish takes its name. This Seitan Tagine with Apricots and Dates is a vegan version that is hearty and flavorful. It’s an impressive dish that’s perfect for entertaining!
13. Halva Pudding
Halva is seen across the globe in dense, sweet dishes. It is common in North Africa and the Horn of Africa. This Halva Pudding is a delicious, traditional pudding made with semolina flour, chopped nuts and sweet syrup – it’s charmingly delicate texture is just wonderful! Flavored with aromatic cinnamon, cloves and cardamom, halva is the perfect ending to any meal.
14. Orange, Fig and Baobab Cheesecake
Baobab is a healthy fruit that originates in Africa and is a staple of the South African diet. This Orange, Fig and Baobab Cheesecake is a delicious, creamy dessert that is made entirely of whole foods so you can enjoy every spoonful.
This is just a small sample of all the delicious food that Africa has to offer. Make it a point to expand your menus with global cuisine that lets you travel the world right from your kitchen.
Lead image source: Delicious Roasted Veggie Moroccan Tagine