The first week in February, also known as African Heritage and Health Week, is a week of celebrating foods, culture, flavors and healthy cooking from traditional African dishes.
Africa is home to so many unique cultures, all with their own traditions of culinary history. Enjoy discovering a rich culture of food, enjoy a traditional meal, and share your stories on social media with #AfricanHeritage.
The celebration of history and culture brings communities together through African Heritage potlucks, church presentations, dinners on college campuses and group outings to restaurants, with traditional dishes from Ethiopia, Ghana, Senegal, the Caribbean and more.
For the culinary-adventurers, the best way to learn about cultures is to immerse yourself in them. The African Heritage Diet is all about featuring familiar foods prepared in easy and affordable ways that taste great and are great for you. It focuses on a healthy heart, strong body and extraordinary energy through vibrant foods.
For those who love to cook and learn new things, we’ll explore a few recipes from traditional African cuisine found on Oldways.
Callaloo soup trinidad
This traditional soup originated from the Caribbean through the use of indigenous plants like the amaranth plant (called callaloo or bhaaji) and taro root. If you don’t have access to these plants, other versions you can use include spinach or other delicate greens.
This soup is the perfect way to warm you up in the chilly February weather, using buttery and soft greens with a spicy scotch bonnet heat.
- 16 ounces of callaloo (or spinach you if you cannot find it)
- 2 tablespoons butter or coconut oil
- 4 shallots, finely diced
- 2 large carrots, finely diced
- 2 scotch bonnet or habanero peppers, sliced in half and deseeded (leave seeds in for extra heat)
- 4 cups low-sodium vegetable stock
- 12 cup coconut milk
- 1 tablespoon ground allspice
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- Melt your butter on medium-low heat in a large soup pot or Dutch oven. When fully melted, add your shallots, carrots and peppers, making sure to handle your peppers with care. Scotch bonnets and habaneros bring some serious heat, so if you prefer a milder dish, use fewer peppers. Let your ingredients simmer covered for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally until the carrots are soft.
- Pour 2 cups of vegetable stock into a blender with two handfuls of your greens. Blend until pureed. Continue to slowly add stock and greens until you have blended all of your ingredients.
- Slowly add your pureed greens to your vegetable stock. Stir in the coconut milk and sea salt to flavor. Cover and simmer on medium heat for at least 10 minutes, stirring occasionally to avoid sticking.
- Serve in a bowl with a side of bread for dipping.
These are a crispy black-eyed pea fritter made popular by street vendors in West Africa. They’re a perfect snack or appetizer, and they’re also easy and fun to make. This particular recipe was created by Food Networks Chopped champion Marie-Claude Mendy.
1 pound dried black-eyed peas
4 cups water, or enough to cover the beans to soak overnight
34 cup chopped shallots or onion
2 tablespoons chopped garlic (optional)
14 teaspoon black pepper
3 tablespoons unrefined coconut oil
- Soak the black-eyed peas overnight in enough water to cover them, then cover. The next day, drain them and remove their outer skins by rubbing them together with the palms of your hands. The fastest way to do this is to put the peas into a food processor, cover them with water and pulse for a few seconds. Add a little bit more water and pulse it again. Then, transfer the peas to a bowl. Add enough water to cover the peas (they should be foaming at this point). Rub the skins off the peas and discard the skins. This is done easily by filling the bowl with water and pouring the water and the skins, which coat to the top out.
- Take the skinless peas and put them in a food processor or good blender. You want to puree it to a fine paste that’s not too runny or too thick. Remember to keep adding water slowly while the processor is running. Add the shallots or onion and garlic, then pulse until they have become part of the paste.
- Season to taste with salt and a pinch of black pepper.
- Meanwhile, in a skillet, heat oil over medium-low heat until it is hot. Spoon the accara mixture into lemon-sized balls, then cook in the oil, flipping the fritter over once or twice until it is golden brown on both sides. This will usually take five to seven minutes on medium heat.)
- Fry the accara in small batches until it is golden brown all over, turning once. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Serve at room temperature with kanni hot sauce.
Tagine chicken morocco
Moroccan chicken tagine is a classic dish resembling stew. The word tagine comes from the clay, cone-shaped cooking vessel traditionally used to prepare this dish. If you do not have a tagine, a ceramic Dutch oven or a slow cooker will do fine. If you are preparing this in a slow cooker, the high setting is recommended. This dish can be altered to your liking, and often is, based on different cultures and regional customs.
1/2 cup onion chopped
1 cup water
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Roma tomatoes, cored and diced
1/4 cup peas, frozen
3 carrots, sliced
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp curry
1 tsp chili powder
1 Tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
1 tsp Kosher salt
3 pounds chicken, cut into pieces
1 pound potatoes, peeled and sliced thin
- Place the onions, carrots, tomatoes and garlic in the bottom of your cooking vessel. Then, place your chicken pieces on top and season with curry, chili powder, parsley and salt. Pour over olive oil and add 1 cup of water.
- Cover and cook over medium heat for one hour. Check for an internal temperature of the chicken to be 165 degrees. If the chicken looks to be drying out, baste with the liquid around the bottom of the pot.
- Add the potatoes to the top, forming a circle. Cover and cook for another 20 minutes until your potatoes are fork-soft. Then, add the peas and cook for 5 minutes uncovered.
- Serve over couscous, rice, or other favorite grain.
Do you have a favorite traditional African dish? Tell us more in the comment section below.
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