By: Lavanya Kathirgamanathan
Food is a necessity in order to survive, yet it offers a dimension of innovation that has people celebrating its cultural roots. Food brings families together, creates a legacy among various cultures, reconnects people with their traditions, and brings an unforgettable experience to the table.
Many of the popular African dishes restaurants market originated from different parts of the world. These dishes embody different flavours, vibrant colours and spices, and incorporate fresh ingredients. African dishes captivate the essence of flavors from all around the world and include flavour profiles that are unheard of.
Many African dishes include unique flavors that tell stories of cultural traditions, which brings family and friends together no matter what season. These dishes are created with specific cooking times in mind, marinated, and seasoned to perfection. These steps are critical to ensure flavours are being brought to life.
It was announced on February 9th, 2023 that Tre Sanderson was the first Black chef to win Top Chef Canada. Sanderson has been cooking for over 10 years and continues to incorporate Caribbean spices in delicacies. These delicacies include turning Jamaican escovitch fish into gourmet works of art. His goal is to modernize traditional dishes that could cater to everyone’s taste buds.
The opportunity to compete in Top Chef Canada and excel has allowed Sanderson to reflect on his cooking experience and inspire emerging Black chefs to take risks in the cooking industry. For Sanderson, homemade traditional food has always been a staple for him, with flavours that bring warmth and comfort to his palette.
Sanderson is committed to seeking opportunities and ventures that push him to take risks in the kitchen and bring Caribbean cuisine to Michelin-star restaurants. His success reminds aspiring Black chefs that people of colour can incorporate their cultural roots to achieve success in the food industry.
Aside from Sanderson’s success, this article will further showcase different African dishes that hold unique flavors and cultural significance.
Ndole is a dish created from Cameroonian culture. It is a stew made of spinach, crayfish, shrimp, and beef and is always placed at the table when it comes to a party. This dish originated in central Africa and showcases the rich flavors of fresh African ingredients.
The dish is marinated with many spices, providing a wholesome and comforting taste when consumed. When an individual devours Ndole, they will recognize the distinct flavour profiles within the first bite.
Typically, Ndole is served with plantains, rice, or fufu. This wonderful Cameroonian dish represents the top cuisine in central Africa and brings a large crowd to the table.
Jollof rice is a dish packed with flavor and is one of the many global dishes well known for the delicacy, the flavors, and the representation that it brings to western Africa.
Jollof rice is a staple dish in Nigeria, Ghana, Sierra Leone, Liberia, and also in Cameroon. Although jollof rice is the main dish, it can be made in different variations. The different types of jollof rice include Gambian, Nigerian, Liberian etc.
Each dish is made with the same ingredients but include distinct cooking times, spices, and rices. The common ingredients found in jollof rice include tomatoes, onions, peppers, garlic, and meat substances. Jollof rice is a dish that allows families to connect to the comfort of spices and share laughter over simple yet delicious homemade food.
Mafe is another beloved dish in Africa that is filled with bold flavors, and is commonly known in Senegal.
The dish mainly consists of peanuts and tomato sauce. In different parts of Africa, this stew embodies representation in different ways. This dish was created during the colonial period, a time where there was an increased production of groundnuts.
Mafe was originally created in Mali before it spread across western Africa and generated popularity. Mafe includes many ingredients such as onions, peanuts, tomatoes, beef, lamb, chicken, and fish in other recipes within the region. It is often served with rice or fufu. Mafe is a flavorful dish that will provide satisfaction and the desire for a second serving.
African cuisine incorporates many vibrant flavors that capture each country’s love and culinary experiences. The farmers who control irrigation when tending to agriculture care for the quality of fresh produce that goes into making these dishes. These unique blends of ingredients and spices bring families close together and provide a sense of tradition during special occasions. These dishes also inspire other countries to include African delicacies in their restaurants.
Lavanya Kathirgamanathan is one of the Writers for this year’s publication at Black Voice. She’s a recent graduate from Toronto Metropolitan University, where she studied Journalism and will further her education in Human Resources at George Brown College. Lavanya has experience writing for multiple publications and has her own food blog on social media. Lavanya’s main goal as a writer for the Black Voice publication is to showcase Black excellence within the community, and in the city of Toronto.