Street food in Africa
Food! One word capable of easing the pangs of hunger while simultaneously putting smiles on faces is no doubt a high point in our collective existence as humans. Even more than that, eating a delicious meal can be a pleasurable experience, soothing the appetite while creating jolly memories in the process.
The same and more can be said about African dishes with her culturally diverse, tastebud-exciting plethora of delicious food-especially the ones you can grab as you walk down an African street. Street food in Africa is a norm that presents a wide variety of choices ranging from humble fruit salads to unique rice combos to never-before-heard-of dishes from the four corners of the continent.
Consequently, it would give me immense pleasure to take you on a culinary journey based on African street food. Enjoy!
The African climate played a critical part in her people's preferences and how they cooked and processed the most delicious food, which is now well known across the world. Crops that thrived even under harsh climates such as cereals(like wheat and millet) and tuber crops(such as yam, cocoyam and potatoes)were preferable grown. These were preferably ground and cooked under low heat until a consistent paste was achieved. The results are staple foods which we have now come to love. Staples like Amala(a Nigerian delicacy made from yam flour) usually served with Ewedu, stew and a variety of assorted meat to choose from by women who knew how to put in the right ingredients in the right proportion. Rightly dubbed 'mama put', these women can be found putting smiles on faces on the streets of Africa.
The cooking methods involved cooking food wrapped in leaves, grilling beside an open flame, frying in a bowl of oil or even baking in ashes. These seemingly crude cooking methods appear to add a distinguishably African taste to each meal which has now become a unique and desirable African culinary signature.
As you walk down any African street today, you might pick up a few mouth-watering aromas which, of course, you can order for breakfast, lunch or dinner as the case may be:
Unrivalled as the predominant source of on-the-go delicious BBQ, Suya is the ultimate street steak in Nigeria.
It is made up of thinly sliced beef, chicken, Chevon(goat meat), popularly called 'asun', or fish.
The steak is doused with a generous amount of chilli pepper, onions, ginger and sometimes ground peanut and then made to roast slowly over the heat of a coal-powered grill. The result is a mouthwatering steak, ready for the taking.
A hungry Rashaad Pandy accidentally invented the Gatsby in the '70s. He dumped every edible thing he could find into a white baguette. The result was a mouthwatering discovery which he tried and succeeded in replicating. Locals fell in love with it at first taste. Now, the modern Gatsby is a hefty sandwich stuffed liberally with crunchy french fries. Do well to note the word 'hefty' in this description when grabbing a bite because this snack can serve as many as four people.
Sometimes, simple is genius. The same can be said for this snack. Kelewele is a typical snack on the streets of Ghana, made from fried plantain and seasoned evenly with cayenne pepper, ginger and a pinch of salt. The plantain is fried until a golden yellow consistency is achieved.
This snack can be served with meat, beans, sauce or eaten plain.
This South African Bobby chow is an outdoor snack for spice lovers. It was invented by Indian workers around the 19th century who needed to feed on a budget. It is a loaf of bread hollowed out, stuffed with meat and spiced generously with curry.
It is a tasty sandwich that has travelled past the south African borders captured the heart of the whole world.
Now, the Bonny chow can be seen served in restaurants across London, filling hungry mouths with taste and delight.
The people of Madagascar take snacking on rice to a whole delicious height with the Mofo gasy. This street food includes flavours from a wide variety of tropical fruits and even fresh coconut milk.
The Mofo gasy, made from rice flour, is prepared by frying the fruit flavoured rice dough in special moulds. They are preferably eaten as breakfast over a cup of coffee. Yummy!
So when next you visit Madagascar, don't forget to get a breakfast of Madagsy Mofo gasy.
The Akara is a Nigerian snack from peeled down, grounded beans. The beans are blended with onion, pepper and other optional spices to taste.
Sometimes, shredded fish or boiled eggs shredding into the raw mix before deep frying can be added to the nutritious snack for better taste.
It is an on-the-go portable snack that goes down well with Agege bread(a Nigerian version of bread renowned for its soft fluffy texture) or eaten plain.
This particular snack is so loved and not hard to come on Nigerian street. Just go for a morning walk, you wouldn't need to walk far, and a vendor is at the corner.
Mozambique is a blooming seafood capital, and as a consequence, her people have perfected the art of curating irresistible seafood recipes. From prawns to sardines, but most importantly-prawns.
Every tourist who has ever visited Mozambique probably had a thing or two to say about their tasty prawns.
Mozambican prawns can either be fried or grilled and spiced hot with peri-peri to tantalise the taste buds. Served with rice, French fries or of course, enjoy it the best way-alone!
Africans love to consume fruits and a lot of it at that. Due to the fertile lands and suitable climate, the continent never runs out of fruits and never tirelessly consumes fruits.
Well, if ever they did, they already came up with ways to keep the passion going-fruit salads.
Fruit salads can be made up of just about any fruit that catches the fancy of the maker. From watermelons to pineapples, from apples to bananas. Anything is possible!
It is all about creativity, and it keeps the unsuspecting eater wondering, "what might I find in this bowl of fruits?"
African culinary diversity has come a long way. It is evolving, growing and maturing centuries into a unified universe of cuisines, meals and snacks originally from humble cottages.
Now, African street food is beginning to be sensational the world over. Yet, in the future-judging by worldwide acceptance-African street food would become the norm worldwide. This deduction is obvious. Who would decline a steaming bowl of Mozambican prawns or Gatsby or Akara or Mofo gasy? No one………..obviously!
Written by Simeon Samuel for CoolAfricanMerch