African cuisine is as diverse as the continent itself, with each region boasting its own flavors, ingredients and cooking styles. To learn more about this delicious and vibrant cuisine, we spoke to chef Kwame Ofori, a Ghanian based in New York city who specializes in African cuisine.
“Growing up in Ghana, food was always a big part of my life. My mother was an amazing cook, and she instilled in me a love for food and cooking from a young age. When I moved to the United States to attend culinary school, I realized that there was a lack of representation of African cuisine in the culinary world. That’s when I decided to focus on African cuisine and showcase the rich flavors and ingredients that the continent has to offer,” shared Ofori concerning his upbringing and what inspired his career path.
African cuisine is very diverse, so the ingredients and flavors used can vary greatly depending on the region. In West Africa, for example, they use a lot of spices like ginger, garlic and chili pepper as well as palm oil and tomatoes. In East Africa, a lot of coconut milk, cinnamon and cardamom are used. In Southern Africa, it is a lot of maize, beans and meat that is used.
According to Ofori, “When I am creating a new dish, I always start with the ingredients. I think about the flavors and textures that I want to incorporate and then I look for the ingredients that will help me achieve that. For example, if I want to create a spicy dish, I might use a combination of chili peppers, ginger and garlic. Or if I want to create a sweet dish, I might use coconut milk and honey. The key is to experiment and have fun with the ingredients.”
When answering the question about his favorite African dishes to cook, Ofori advised that although there are so many delicious dishes to choose from, some of his favorites are jollof rice, egusi soup and fufu. Jollof rice is a classic West African dish that is made with rice, spices and tomatoes. It is a dish that is commonly used to bring people together, because it is a crowd-pleaser. Egusi is a popular West African soup that is made with ground melon seeds and vegetables. It is a hearty and nutritious soup that is perfect for cold weather. Fufu is a staple in West and Central Africa, that is made with cassava or yam flour. It is a popular African comfort meal.
African cuisine is very underrepresented in the culinary world, this however is changing. More and more chefs are starting to incorporate African flavors and ingredients into their dishes. In time more people around the world will discover and enjoy the delicious and diverse world of African cuisine.
African cuisine is a delicious and diverse culinary that is finally starting to receive the recognition it deserves. With Chefs like Kwame Ofori leading the way, we can look forward to a future where African cuisine is celebrated and enjoyed around the world.