If your business has taken you to Nigeria, you probably know Nigerian Ogbono soup, with the kernels of a variety of wild African mango. In Ethiopia, you may have tried Injera, a well-known local foodstuff. Or jollof rice in Senegal and Ghana! You may soon get a taste of these and other local favourites in European countries and the U.S. African cuisine is getting more popular outside the continent, food watchers from thefoodpeople insist.
As western countries are getting more culturally diverse, so are food preferences. New ingredients from the far corners of the world are getting launched in western supermarkets on a regular base. There has been a steady influx of Asian and South American food ingredients in stores, and in cities like Amsterdam, Paris and London restaurants seem to be getting more diverse.
Stores, food trucks, restaurants
Food experts and trend watchers point out that African ingredients and dishes are the latest trend in stores, food trucks and restaurants. “African cuisine is one of the last ones to be adopted globally”, says Sarah Edwards, Director of Trends of UK-based thefoodpeople. “All other continents of the world are quite well represented globally, but this rich vein of African food is just emerging and is very exciting development for every foodie.”
Sarah Edwards insist that African cuisine adds value to the food palette. “African cuisine has many of the qualities that consumers around the world are now looking for – complex flavours (smoky, spicy, bitter and sour flavours), many plant-based dishes, many are gluten free and also have the benefit of healthy superfoods like moringa and baobab.”
Also in the U.S.
The trend that TheFoodPeople witnesses in the UK and many other European countries, is also seen in the U.S. According to the Specialty Food Association, millennials and generation Z are shifting America's palates towards more African as well as South Asian and Latin American inspired cuisine and ingredients in 2019. The U.S. food watchers find dishes like jollof rice (West Africa) and an Egyptian dish like koshare and South Africa’s favorite dish piri piri chicken on the menu of food trucks and of African and ‘world food’ restaurants to open up in the trendy neighbourhoods of cities like New York and San Francisco.
So what are the dishes that we may see more often at food trucks, in restaurants, on food TV channels and in meal plans in the west? TheFoodPeople mention a few ‘winners’ in their reports.
- Injera - a flatbread made from teff that's fermented with water for several days before being baked into large, floppy pancakes. They have the texture of crepes and the taste of sourdough bread. Teff flour is incredibly high in fiber, iron and calcium. It has all the amino acids required to be a complete protein, but it's also gluten-free.
- Tibs - It seems as if nearly every culture has their own version of "fajitas," or marinated beef sauteed with vegetables. Tibs can be made with beef, but you'll also find it made with lamb too.
For West Africa
- Jollof - The signature dish at the heart of the West African cuisine movement is jollof, an adaptable one-pot rice-based dish, made with spices, salt, onion, red pepper and tomato paste. From its origins in Senegal, the dish grew in popularity, with multiple variations spreading throughout the whole of West Africa. It is now consumed in many regions from Ghana and Nigeria, to Cameroon and the Ivory Coast.
- Ekwang - a Cameroon cuisine that’s now being cooked in a lot of UK kitchens. It’s essentially a stew prepared by peeling and grating cocoyams or taro – then mixed with smoked meats or fish, cooked with spices and other aromatic ingredients.
- Ogbomo (or Apon) - a soup thickened with ogbono seeds (from the wild African mango). It has a thick consistency, like okra soup and will often have meat, leafy vegetables or stews added to it.
If this story has made you slightly hungry, be aware that you won’t have to go far to taste African dishes. It may be soon get served around the corner in major European cities. As the Nigerians say when delicious food is on the table: “Oya, Come Chop”, “Come on, let’s eat!”