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The A to Z of African cuisine

To highlight the culinary treasures of Africa, here's an A-Z guide to the delectable dishes you can find on your travels there with us.

The A to Z of African cuisine

When it comes to Italian cuisine, our minds are immediately filled with visions of pasta and pizza. But what about the diverse and tantalising flavours of Africa? To shed light on the lesser-known culinary treasures of this vast continent, here's an A-Z guide to the delectable dishes you can find on your travels there with us.

A - Amlu (Morocco): Amlu, a Moroccan spread, is a blend of toasted (and crushed) almonds, honey, and argan oil. It graces breakfast tables, accompanies pancakes and pastries, or serves as an indulgent treat during afternoon tea.

B - Bobotie (South Africa): This South African delight is a baked dish comprising spiced minced meat, dried fruit, onions, and a creamy egg custard topping. South Africa's culinary prowess is further showcased through other B’s like Biltong, Bunny Chow, Boerewors, and the iconic 'Braai.'

C - Caldeirada (Mozambique): Caldeirada is a hearty fish stew brimming with a variety of seafood, vegetables, and spices. Slow-cooked to perfection, it's often served with Xima (see ‘X’ below).

D - Duqqa (Egypt): A mixture of herbs, nuts and spices, it is often used as a dip with some bread or vegetables.

E - Eba (West Africa): Similar to Ugali (see ‘U’ below) but made with cassava flour, it is used as a side to all sorts of dishes across the region. It is slightly sour and tangy.

F - Felafel (Egypt): Although Israel may claim it, Egypt is thought to be the source of both the ancient and modern versions of this famed dish.

G - Gatsby (South Africa): A South African style of deli sandwich, very popular in the Western Cape province. It is very similar in content and preparation to a hoagie in the United States.

H - Huku ne Dovi (Zimbabwe): Huku ne Dovi is a popular Zimbabwean chicken and peanut butter stew, featuring tender chicken, onions, tomatoes, and garlic, bathed in a rich, creamy peanut butter sauce. It's typically served with sadza or rice.

I - Ifisashi (Zambia): A delectable vegetarian stew that combines peanuts with flavourful greens, it is found across Zambia.

J - Jollof Rice (Across Africa): It is thought to have originated in Gambia but has since spread across Africa. The dish is typically made with rice, tomatoes, chillies, onions, spices, vegetables and/or meat in a single pot, although there are many many variants, each with its own fervent fans.

K - Kapana (Namibia): Namibia's beloved street food, Kapana, boasts grilled and seasoned meat, usually beef or venison, served with an array of flavourful dipping sauces. Often skewered or served in bite-sized pieces, so one is never enough.

L - Lokma (Egypt): Originating from Egypt, Lokma is a dessert comprising deep-fried dough balls soaked in syrup or honey, sometimes adorned with cinnamon or other delightful ingredients.

M - Matooke (Uganda): Matooke, a Ugandan staple, features steamed green bananas served with a choice of a bean or meat stew. Wrapped in banana leaves and steam-cooked, it has a unique but really satisfying flavour.

N - Nyama Choma (East Africa): A beloved grilled meat dish popular throughout East Africa, Nyama Choma is marinated beef, chicken, or goat, grilled to perfection and served with vegetables or Ugali. It translates as ‘barbeque meat’, so you get the idea.

O - Octopus Curry (Zanzibar): Zanzibar's culinary delight, Octopus Curry, features tender octopus cooked in a spicy tomato-based sauce with coconut milk. Usually it is served with rice or chapati.

P - Piri-piri Chicken or Prawns (Mozambique): Grilled prawns or chicken marinated in a spicy piri-piri sauce made from African bird’s eye chillies, garlic, lemon juice, and oil. Often served with chips and salad, it's a spicy sensation. Hell, Nandos made an international chain from the taste.

Q - Qatayef (Middle East): A sweet dumpling or folded pancake filled with cream, nuts, or delightful ingredients, making it a cherished dessert during Ramadan.

R - Rolex (Uganda): Rolex, a popular Ugandan street food, features a rolled-up chapati filled with vegetables and eggs. It's a quick and delicious choice for breakfast or a snack. The name ‘Rolex’ is a play on words, a fancy version of ‘rolled eggs’.

S - Seswaa (Botswana): A traditional dish made from boiled and shredded beef, goat, or lamb, the meat is slow-cooked until tender and served with pap (maize meal) or rice and a flavourful vegetable relish. Often used for ‘big’ occasions.

T - Thobwa (Malawi): A maize-based drink is tasty and very filling, as well as offering many nutritional benefits. Also known as ‘sweet beer’, this non-alcoholic drink can be left for a week and it turns alcoholic, hence often seen at weddings. Honourable mention goes to a Tajine from Morocco.

U - Ugali (Across Africa): Also known as Sadza in Shona, Pap in South Africa, or Nsima/Nshima in Malawi and Uganda, Ugali is a stiff maize meal, akin to the significance of pasta in Italy and rice in Asian countries, making it a staple across Africa. It looks like mashed potato but is doughier.

V - Vetkoek (South Africa): A delightful South African fried bread, Vetkoek is a beloved snack enjoyed plain or with various fillings, making it a comfort food favourite. It literally means ‘fat cake’, and is like a savoury doughnut without the hole.

W - Wat (Ethiopia): A stew with vegetables, spices and clarified butter. Cooked in a different way from other stews, this process uses onions as a thickening agent and is often served with the famous spongy bread, the classic Injera.

X - Xima (Mozambique): A porridge made from maize flour and water, complementing many savoury African dishes.

Y - Yes, we couldn’t think of a Y. Can you?

Z - Zanzibar Pizza (Zanzibar): Zanzibar's iconic street food, resembling a savoury crepe, filled with minced meat, egg, vegetables, cheese, and spices. Folded into a pocket and cooked until crispy, it's a great little snack perfect for busy market shopping.

This is just the culinary staples of the continent. There are some of the finest restaurants in the world found here, often in places you wouldn’t expect. But from from the aromatic spices of Morocco to the mouthwatering stews of Zimbabwe, each dish tells a story of tradition and place. So, next time you are in Africa, Bon appétit!

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Travel isn’t what is used to be. It used to be undertaken with a sense of adventure and discovery. As the world shrunk, so did our imaginations and over time, manufactured experiences, sponsored travel lists and mass tourism have slowly extinguished that magic. Amazing destinations, catering to the crowds, have become overwhelmed shadows of their former selves.

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