If you have been keeping up with the latest in the food world, you’ll know that Africa, African chefs and cuisine are having a great moment in the spotlight right now. From Senegalese chef Pierre Thiam opening up Teranga in New York, chef Eric Adjepong exposing American viewers to dishes he grew up on as a Ghanaian on ‘Top Chef” to Congolese chef Dieuveil Malonga creating a digital platform for African chefs with more than 4000 members to date. Not to mention the number of delicious offerings rendered through cookbooks that allow readers’ taste buds to travel the world without leaving their kitchens.
Nigerian author and blogger (Ev’s Eats) Evi Aki is up next with her recently released cookbook, “Flavors of Africa,” that explores dishes across Africa. Learning to cook from her “mum” and “grandmum,” Aki’s travels around the continent created opportunities to collect authentic family recipes.
“My goal is to show you that African cooking doesn’t have to be intimidating – unlike what the common consensus may be, it’s not a cuisine that is hard to prepare,” she shares.
“Flavors of Africa,” is curated with 70 recipes that are full of flavor and spice. Four chapters divide the book into different regions. With her roots planted in Western Africa, Aki shares recipes she grew up eating such as yassa (Senegalese lemon chicken), plantain frittata and eran paii (Nigerian meat pie.). In Eastern Africa, glaze your eyes over the recipe for bhajias (fries) that are sprinkled with cilantro and served with kachumbari or East African salsa. Another one that will make you do a double take is the summertime mango lemonade where adding moscato may be optional but is a must for me.
The Northern African meatballs will stop the pages from turning any further with hints of cumin, paprika, ground cinnamon, coriander, salt and pepper. Smothered in a tomato sauce, serve them over basmati rice or couscous and be instantly transported.
Southern African is one of my favorites with chicken served with a fiery peri peri sauce (think Nando’s in D.C) and sweet potato fritters that are extra crispy and over-the-top delicious with the perfect dipping sauce.
If there is one book to get your African juices flowing, this is the one. All of the recipes have simple ingredients that are found in every pantry and most don’t call for spending the day or night in the kitchen. Aki makes them approachable and the choices will be mealtime regulars for a long time.
As you flip through the book and mark which recipes to try first, Aki’s words of advice are to “have fun while cooking your way through this book. Throw on some Afro beats and open your mind to explore a continent full of life, love and delicious food.”
“Flavor of Africa’ is available on Amazon.
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