From food in the north that contains Mediterranean ingredients like preserved lemons, olive oil, and chickpeas, to curries found in southern Africa, there’s no shortage of ingredients and foods that bring Africa to diners’ plates. Start by offering touches of African cuisine to your already-familiar menu. This way, you’ll intrigue customers without challenging them.
Condiments Lead the Way
The spicy and sour condiments of Africa lend themselves to easy experimentation for diners. They can add sauces like blatjang or harissa to menu staples like eggs, beans, or meat. Or you can create unique touches for them with dishes like chicken salad with piripiri aioli or broiled whitefish marinated in chermoula.
Spicing Brings Subtle African Touches
Many spices grow in Africa, and therefore are part of beloved African foods. Spices used in the continent range from the familiar--bay leaves, cinnamon, cumin, ginger, and sesame seeds—to lesser-known ones such as cardamom or grains of paradise. Play with African spicing by cooking rice with smoky black cardamom or adding cinnamon and ginger to dipping sauces.
Use Grains and Starches to Set the Stage
No African meal is complete without rice, bread, or millet. Use injera bread, fufu, or jollof rice as a base for stews and grilled meats. Dust your dinner rolls with dukkah. Serve plantain fries with a burger. Or stuff mandazi with spicy coconut beef and pigeon peas. Chef Kyla says to consider a fufu and spinach croquette with a ginger-tomato dipping sauce.
Vegetables Bring a Side of Africa to Plates
Side dishes offer great potential for introducing the flavours of Africa, and can make basic plates more interesting. Top oil-poached salmon with kachumbari. Serve meatloaf next to a pumped-up spinach sautéed with garlic and ginger, and finished with coconut milk. Or increase the flavour of baked beans by adding greater quantities of African spices such as cloves and nutmeg.
Introduce Africa Through Its Meats
Increase interest in center-of-plate foods with African-inspired meat dishes. Their spicing and unusual combinations of sweet and savoury will get your diners talking. Take chicken out of its typical element by serving as a sugar-dusted pastilla or in a date-studded tagine. Make a South African BLT by swapping bacon for biltong. Serve grilled coriander-crusted beef skewers over rice pilaf studded with pistachios and pomegranate seeds. Chef Kyla also recommends a lamb tagine sandwich with onion jam, lives, preserved lemon, and saffron aioli.
Complete African Plates
Some African dishes can’t be sidelined and are best served as traditionally as possible. Increase the appeal of your appetizers by adding the fun, shareable starter Bunny Chow--a bread bowl filled with spicy curry. Or serve peanut soup, a protein-packed vegetarian favorite. Feijoada, a bean stew with red meats offers an alternative to chili. Replace omelets with Ful Medames, an egg dish from Egypt featuring fava beans and served with pita bread.