African cuisine is delicious but for some reason hasn’t quite received as much praise it deserves. You can wander around the streets of Norwich and find countless restaurants suited to any taste bud, yet there is a gaping void that must be filled with these truly fantastic flavours. I’ve picked out some of my top favourites that you should check out!
Tagine is something that has been quite close to my heart. That may sound like an odd comment for food, but it is one of the first things I can remember my father making for me as a little girl. He loves to travel and has picked up some really gorgeous flavours from across the globe. Tagine is usually both sweet and savoury, containing meat such as chicken or lamb, chickpeas, tomatoes and dried fruits like raisins or apricots. The sauce is extremely fragrant with ginger, cinnamon, saffron and the key ingredient – Ras El Hanout. My dad always serves it with roasted vegetable couscous and it’s extremely delicious! It’s hard to not help myself to seconds. You can easily purchase Tagine Paste from any major supermarket and have a go making this dish yourself!
I’m yet to personally try Jollof Rice but I have heard excellent things. It’s a West African one-pot rice dish that’s much loved across the continent, especially in Nigeria and Ghana. Despite having some regional differences, which has led to prominent debate on which country makes it better, jokingly nicknamed the ‘Jollof Wars,’ this classic recipe has three essential ingredients: rice, tomato stew and lots of seasoning. It is often served as a side with fish or chicken, while in Ghana it’s enjoyed with some kelewele (seasoned fried plantains!). The good news is that authentic Jollof Rice is easily obtainable on campus from Didi’s Dining in The Hive or via Just Eat for delivery.
Egusi Soup with Fufu
Eugsi is the name for seeds like melons that are ground and used in soup with other leafy vegetables. This native Igbo soup is extremely nutritious and rich in protein and oil. It is served alongside fufu, an essential dish in West Africa. Fufu is a starchy food like cassava, yams or plantains which has been boiled, pounded and rounded into balls. This soup is quite often seen as a comfort food in West Africa and looks extremely inviting to try!
Koshari is a traditional Egyptian staple often sold by Cairo street vendors. It’s a vegetarian street food made from rice, lentils and chickpeas, then topped with fried onions in a spicy tomato and garlic sauce. It is full of flavour but also very healthy. You can try this locally in the Norwich Market at Ramses Egyptian Street Food.
Heading on down to the south of the continent, you’re bound to come across Bobotie, the national dish of South Africa. This is a delicious mixture of curried meat with an egg and milk topping served with yellow rice. Yes, it may sound a little bit crazy, especially if you’re not used to those sorts of flavours, but most who have tried it would say it’s pretty phenomenal. The dish has an Indonesian influence which entered the country along with the Dutch colonists and is thought to date back to 1609. It is a popular part of South African and Cape Malay culture. Although trickier to find in Norwich, it’s very easy to find a recipe for it online.
I definitely think you should go and try something new by cooking or eating these classic African dishes!