How to Enjoy African Cuisine
Understanding the Menu
Dishes are created with simple ingredients.
If the menu is written in a different language, ask your server help to explain the dishes. You can also ask your server to recommend a dish based on your comfort level.
Spices are the center of African cuisine.
Ask specific questions about the spiciness of the food. Some food can be very spicy, let your server know the level of heat you can handle. African cuisine uses a variety of spices ranging from bland to pungent and from mild to hot in various combinations.
African chicken curry pilau.
Choose a meat dish that is simply prepared. Meat can be marinated then grilled and served with a sauce on the side, or the meat can be prepared incorporated into a complex stew or incorporated into a rice dish. If you want to play it safe on first visit, having the sauce on the side is recommended. Most African cuisines feature a rice dish cooked pilau style--combined with meats and vegetables. This is also a safe bet.
Chicken curry with steamed rice.
Pick your carbohydrate side dish. Stick to something familiar like plain steamed rice if available. If you are adventurous you can order the regions staple starch dish. The starch dish can be made from either cornmeal (Ugali in Kenyan Cuisine), starchy root vegetables like cassava or yams (Fufu in West African cuisine) or teff flour (Injera in Ethiopian cuisine).
- 5). Know that after you have ordered your food it is time to wash your hands. This may seem obvious but African food is best enjoyed by eating with your hands and some restaurants will even wash your hands tableside.
Eating with your fingers.
Cup your fingertips into a spoon. Scoop the food into the small reservoir. Once your fingertips are on your lips, use your thumb to push the food off the "finger spoon" into your mouth. Start with small portions.
- 2). Take a portion of the starch and dip it into the sauce and savor the two flavors combined. This is the best way to eat Ethiopian food. The spiciness of the sauce is tempered by the sour Injera pancake/bread.
Try some of the beverages offered on the menu after your meal. Kenyan tea is a nice way to end your meal.