This Beginner's guide into African cuisine will will help you understand how to make Kid-Friendly African Cuisine and Easy African Food for weeknight meals.
The cuisine of Africa is as vast as the continent is big. Each region has its own blend of spices, produce, starches, and more depending on surrounding influences, the climate, and how the people who call that place live. For the most part, African cuisine is heavily influenced by spices, and are known for their intense flavor.
If you haven’t gone over the above guide it’s a good place to start so that you can successfully introduce your children kid friendly recipes from around the world. Here’s some things to get you started on your next food adventure - African Cuisine!
Tips to Make African Food for Kids:
Use Half the Spice. When trying a new spice mix for the first time, try using only half of the called for spice to begin with. Often times spice mixtures can be really potent or spicy. Its better to err on the side of caution until you understand your particular spice blend - too bland and edible is way better than too spicy!!!
Use Easy Side Dishes - A lot of african cuisine tends to be heavily flavored grilled/roasted meats or stews. Use easy simple side dishes like couscous, rice, or and fatbreads that aren’t quite so intimidating - soft, starchy goodness served on the side goes a long way.
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Top Ten Flavors of African Cuisine:
- Harissa - A spice mixture often made into a paste or hot sauce. It is commonly made from roasted red peppers and a mixture of other chili peppers, garlic paste, cumin, and paprika.
- Dukkah - This nut/seed and spice mixture is made with cumin, coriander, sesame seeds, salt, dried herbs and nuts.
- Berbere - An Ethiopian Spice Mixture
- Ras el Hanout - this North African spice mixture
- Protein sources - cow and fish (depending on the region and culture), chicken, and also game meats such as crocodile, antelope, monkey, warthog, goat,
- Cassava and other tubers
- Fresh Fruits and Vegetables (Plaintains and Yams are big!)
- Rice and Grains (maize, millet, sourghum)
- Milk, yogurt, and sour cream
Tools and Gadgets for Cooking African Food At Home:
- Most African cooking is done outdoors over an open fire. Having a charcoal grill or firepit would come in handy, but you can totally cook this cuisine inside as well.
- Cast Iron Pots and cast iron skillets are necessary for cooking over an open fire. The pots can be used as ovens, frying pans, roasters, and communal bowls.
- Mortar and Pestal. African cooking uses a lot of dried grains and corn as well as spices that need to be ground up.
- Leaves. Banana leaves and corn husks are often used to wrap food in before placing it in hot coal ashes.
Additional Resources About African Culture for Kids:
A big part of getting kids excited about new cuisines is introducing them to other aspects of the culture. Using music, books, and movies help spark children’s interest and open them up to trying new foods.
- Queen of Katwe - atwe, a movie based on a vibrant true story starring Lupita Nyong'o and David Oyelowo. A Ugandan girl's life changes forever when she discovers she has an amazing talent for chess in this celebration of the human spirit.
- Africa - In this blockbuster, the BBC's Natural History Unit reveals Africa as you've never seen it before. This is a journey through five diverse regions of an amazing continent, taking you seamlessly from the wild terrain of extraordinary landscapes to intimate encounters with its mesmerizing creatures.
F is for Fufu: An Alphabet Book Based on The Ghanaian Goldilocks - F is for Fufu is an ABC book unlike any you've ever seen. Enjoy references to the modern West African tale The Ghanaian Goldilocks while learning more about the culture, people, traditions and staples of the gorgeous country of Ghana...all while practicing your ABCs!
Ashanti to Zulu: African Traditions - Artists Leo and Diane Dillon won their second consecutive Caldecott Medal for this stunning ABC of African culture. Well written with beautiful illustrations! It uses the alphabet to work the story through a series of African tribes. It starts with "A" for Ashanti civilization and works its way through multiple groups of African people until it reaches "Z" for Zulu. The pictures are thought-provoking and have led to many discussions regarding different types of dress and why people dress differently for weddings and everyday clothing.
- My Africa Vacation - Illustrated with vibrant photographs of the sights, animals, and places two siblings see on their vacation, My Africa Vacation teaches children of all backgrounds of Africa’s diversity and richness—and encourages them to one day take their own trips to a continent unlike any other.
- It Takes A Village by Jane Cowen-Fletcher - In a story based on the West African proverb, "It takes a whole village to raise a child," a young girl proudly watches her brother and then realizes that the entire village has been watching them both.