East Africa (Mauritus, Zambia, Madagascar, Kenya, Tanzania, Somalia, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Djibouti, Réunion, Seychelles, Comoros)**
Except for its rather reticent use of red pepper, East Africa’s indigenous cuisine resembles that of West Africa in many ways.
Starches: Millet, sorghum, corn, cassava, cocoyams, yams, sweet potatoes, bananas, plantains (matoke), potatoes (because of British influence), and rice
Flavoring: Chiles, peanuts, tomatoes, onions, mushrooms, turmeric
Fruits: Citrus, papaya, coconuts
The mark of early Arab trade remains in East Africa and indigenous food patterns reflect that. Spicing in Ethiopian cooking overshadows the rest of the region. But on the islands of Réunion and the Seychelles, flavoring food resembles that of India, albeit in a muted manner. Turmeric in particular is one spice used in fairly copious amounts. In many parts of East Africa, the Sunday curry lunch still takes place, a heritage from British colonial days.
Because the tsetse fly affects thirty-three of the countries south of the Sahara, milk production remains at a low level in many areas. But where people can raise cattle, they almost invariably produce some sort of fermented milk product.
(See my previous posts on East Africa: Safari Cooking: Ingredients, A Dish (or Two) for Children in British Colonial Africa, A Cook in Colonial Africa, and What’s Cooking in Kenya? Ugali, Sukuma Wiki, and the Food of Barack Obama’s Father’s Childhood … .)
**For the next few weeks, I am going to be on a “working vacation,” so my posts will be somewhat more abbreviated. I will still provide you with something substantial to chew on, though!
© 2009 C. Bertelsen