African cuisine is a generalized term collectively referring to the cuisines of Africa. The continent of Africa is the second largest landmass on Earth, and is home to hundreds of different cultural and ethnic groups. This diversity is also reflected in the many local culinary traditions in terms of choice of ingredients, style of preparation and cooking techniques.
Traditionally, the various cuisines of Africa use a combination of locally available fruits, cereal grains and vegetables, as well as milk and meat products. In some parts of the continent, the traditional diet features a preponderance of milk, curd and whey products. In much of Tropical Africa, however, cow’s milk is rare and cannot be produced locally (owing to various diseases that affect livestock). Depending on the region, there are also sometimes quite significant differences in the eating and drinking habits and proclivities throughout the continent’s many populations: Central Africa, East Africa, the Horn of Africa, North Africa, Southern Africaand West Africa each have their own distinctive dishes, preparation techniques, and consumption mores.
Central Africa stretches from the Tibesti Mountains in the north to vast rainforest basin of the Congo River, and has remained largely free of culinary influences of the outside world, until the late 19th century, with the exception of the widespread adaptation of cassava, peanut, and Chile pepper plants which arrived along with the slave trade during the early 16th century. These foodstuffs have had a large influence on the local cuisine, perhaps less on the preparation methods. Central African cooking has remained mostly traditional.
Maize (corn) is the basis of ugali, the East African version of West Africa’s fufu. Ugali is a starch dish eaten with meats or stews. In Uganda, steamed, green bananas called matoke provide the starch filler of many meals.
Around 1000 years ago, the Arabs settled in the coastal areas of East Africa, and Arabic influences are especially reflected in the Swahili cuisine of the coast – steamed cooked rice with spices in Persian style, use of saffron, cloves, cinnamon and several other spices, and pomegranate juice.
Horn of Africa– The main traditional dishes in Ethiopian cuisine and Eritrean cuisine are tsebhis (stews) served with injera (flatbread made from teff, wheat, or sorghum), andhilbet (paste made from legumes, mainly lentil, faba beans). Eritrean and Ethiopian cuisine (especially in the northern half) are very similar, given the shared history of the two countries.