Iva Kubickova, Content Executive   23 May 2019

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On this year’s Africa Day, we celebrate the diversity of African cuisine alongside Dine Diaspora.

African ingredients and flavours are finally taking centre stage in food, drinks, healthcare, and more. From food markets to pop-ups and independent restaurants, Africans across the world are driving a new wave of interest in the region’s diverse culinary traditions.

As Africa Day approaches on 25th May, WorldRemit is celebrating the delicious cuisine of some of the continent’s most popular destinations. And we couldn’t have hoped for a partner in this quest than Dine Diaspora, a company promoting the influence of African food culture around the world. We’ve previously partnered with Dine Diaspora on last year’s edition of #ChopBarDC. We hope this post leaves your mouth watering for the next edition!

We visited two D.C. area institutions – Swahili Village and The Hungry Tamer - where we some signature dishes from East and West Africa, and picked our favourites.

Can you guess the top eight?

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What is the difference between East and West African food?

Generalisations are difficult, but broadly speaking the cuisines of each region share many. similarities due to geography, history and climate.

Overall, African cuisine is among the healthiest in the world because of the emphasis on locally-grown ingredients over processed food. The “grow local” may be taking off in countries like the United States, but people from Ghana to Kenya have been eating that way for centuries. While Ethiopian and Moroccan food is probably the best-known cuisines outside the continent, a growing interest in dishes from countries like Nigeria and Senegal is driving interest in Africa’s rich food traditions.

Here are the culinary basics of each region.

Western Africa

Expect big, spicy and bold flavours with strong seasonings.

Popular ingredients: Rice, black-eyed peas, tomatoes, various meats, brown beans and root vegetable

Flavour favourites: Plantain, nutmeg, cumin, yam, cassava, ginger, bonnet chillies, beans, okra, peanuts and sorghum

Signature dishes: Egusi soup, Fufu and Jollof rice

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Eastern Africa

Combination of European, Arabic and African flavours made for truly unique flavours. Grains and vegetables make up the majority of dishes here.

Popular ingredients: Lentils, beans, legumes, vegetable and rice

Flavour favourites: Maize, matoke, cinnamon, saffron, cumin, sage and cloves

Signature dishes: Ugali, Nyama Choma, and Sambusa

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What is Dine Diaspora?

In the world where people are hungry to taste something new, many chefs are now placing their bets on the next food trend in unexplored African flavours.

But there are plenty of African recipes yet to be discovered. And that’s where the trio of women behind Dine Diaspora comes in.

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Since 2014, Dine Diaspora is connecting brands and people with a mission to celebrate and promote African food culture.

This Washington, D.C.-based company organises culturally designed culinary events, which give a chance to African entrepreneurs, leaders and influencers to network and bond over delicious food made by topmost African chefs.

WorldRemit has partnered with Dine Diaspora and organised a food tasting in two popular restaurants in Washington D.C. region - West African Hungry Tamer and an East African food bastion Swahili Village.

What are some of our favourite African dishes? 

1. Suya Nigerian-suya-meat“A

Country: Nigeria, Cameroon

What it is:
Succulent thin cuts of marinated meat on a skewer barbequed on an open flame, complemented by chopped onions and dried pepper on a side.

Why we love it: The balanced combination of peanuts, cayenne pepper and salt make this delicacy as comforting as it can get. The traditional recipe originated from the Hausa people and is undeniably the unifying food of Western African cuisine. 

2. Nyama Choma a-dish-of-kenyan-nyama-choma“A

Country: Kenya

What it is:
Succulent and earthy goat meat slowly roasted on a grill. It’s served with salt and lemon wedges on the side, together with a tomato chilli sauce.

Why we love it: Traditionally, Nyama Choma is prepared on coals covered in ash, which gives the dish its signature flavour. Trying this aromatic meat is a truly authentic experience!

3. Red Red and Plantainghanaian-red-red-and-plantain-dish“A

Country: Ghana

What it is:
 Black-eyed peas and tomatoes. Traditionally a vegetarian dish, Red Red is best enjoyed with delicious fried plantains or rice.

Why we love it: Rich in proteins with bold flavours, this soothing Ghanaian classic is the perfect dish to whip up for a no-fuss lunch in the middle of the week! 

4. Maharagwe and chapati african-maharange-stew“A

Country: Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania

What it is: 
Rich and creamy broth cooked with coconut milk, tomatoes and beans offering rich aromas of butter and spice. Best served with a soft and doughy chapati bread!

Why we love it: This simple-to-make nutritious soup has an anti-inflammatory punch and is delicious enough to win over the hearts of the fussiest diners. 

5. Meat piesnigerian-meat-pies“A

Country: Nigeria

What it is:
 Delicious buttery shortcrust pastry filled a mixture of spicy, juicy minced meat and vegetable.

Why we love it: It’s not only us who love this yummy snack. Ask any Nigerian and they will most likely confirm they have it stacked in a freezer! 

 

6. Samosaskenyan-samosas-on-newspaper“A

Country: Kenya

What it is:
 Quick and utterly satisfying puff pastry pockets stuffed with meat and vegetable.

Why we love it: The signature crispy crust and hot savoury filling make samosas the perfect comfort food for every occasion.

 

7. Jollof ricejollof-rice-on-a-brown-plate“A

Country: Ghana, Nigeria, Senegal
What it is:
 Warm and generous pot of rice usually prepared with garlic, onions, tomatoes, and spicy chillies.

Why we love it: In Western Africa, Jollof is ”the dish” that calls for special moments. Each family has its own variation and, of course, there is a major debate about which one is the best!

 

8. Pilauplate-of-kenyan-pilau-rice“A

Country: Kenya

What it is:
 Intensively flavoured rice dish with a dominating sensation of cumin, cinnamon and turmeric. It’s cooked in a seasoned meaty broth.

Why we love it: What Jollof rice means to west Africans, that’s what Pilau is to east Africans. It’s a classic for a reason!

 

Meet the powerhouse behind Dine Diaspora!

We had a chance to sample Nigerian's meat pies and Kenya's samosas with the help of some of Washington DC’s African restaurants

Watch what Dine Diaspora has to say about these dishes in our video!

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WorldRemit wishes happy Africa Day to all Africans on the continent, in the diaspora, and across the world!

Which dish would be on the top of your list? Let us know in the comments.

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