West African food has been trending, showing no signs of slowing down. My Burnt Orange is the go-to site for your first introduction to West African food.
What makes up West African food as we know it today? I could list the most prominent dishes of countries such as Nigeria, Ghana and Sierra Leone. However we can take a deeper look at the flavour profile of West African cuisine. The contribution of heat contributing spices creates the first dimension to discovering West African flavours. The vibrant taste of scotch bonnet peppers and other capsicums lay the firm foundation for West African food. In addition to this, ginger and other hot spices are also important.
We can then take it another level deeper with the flavour inducing ingredients often used. One which is universal across the region is the smoky and nuttiness of red palm fruit oil. Therefore many dishes start with it. I can’t tell you how much I enjoy it. It is used carefully, due to its staining qualities, and enjoyed in almost every West African household there is to know. Other ingredients add smoky notes, from smoked pork, crayfish, or dried and salted fish. The rising popularity of fermented locust beans deepens the appreciation of the umami flavour in West African cuisine.
Outside of the flavour, I recommend jump-starting your introduction to West African food by trying indigenous ingredients. Ingredients currently making waves include okro, plantains, gari and beans. Meanwhile other ingredients to try are yams, amaranth greens, cocoyams, cassava and palm wine. These give a glimpse into what West African cuisine may entail. They way they are all combined is what brings the magic alive.
I am sharing my favourite recipes with you.
Now you can get started, begin with jollof.