Food

The West African Food Trend Is Set To Sizzle

We’ve just got into March, but already many culinary experts are firmly predicting that West African Cuisine will be the next big food trend to take off this year.

It’s been dubbed the “last great untapped cuisine”  by food trend experts, The Food People, and they have estimated many more delightful dishes, and cultural cooking from countries all over West Africa, will soon be circulating throughout the UK.

The next big thing

Enthusiasm for the cuisine certainly seems to be on the rise – and this has been partly attributed to the increased interest in street food, with many vendors now getting the chance to introduce new spicy dishes like kelewele and jollof to new audiences.

This cuisine is ingrained into West African culture, and was typically prepared and eaten in private, at home – now though there’s a wider public demand to taste these home cooked dishes.  

It’s now becoming the norm for British supermarkets to start stocking West African ingredients in greater numbers. The entire kitchen of the continent has become more and more accessible, from plantain and fermented fish, to cassava and okra. There’s no doubt that these flavours are slowly shuffling their way into mainstream menus.

Popular dishes

Many prevalent foods from West African societies are now bringing a taste of the continent to the UK.

Some of the most popular dishes at the moment include:

Jollof

The signature dish at the heart of the West African cuisine movement is jollof, an adaptable one-pot rice-based dish, made with spices, salt, onion, red pepper and tomato paste.

From its origins in Senegal, the dish grew in popularity, with multiple variations spreading throughout the whole of West Africa. It is now consumed in many regions from Ghana and Nigeria, to Cameroon and the Ivory Coast.

Ofe akwu

Native to Nigeria, this stew dish made with a type of palm fruit is often referred to as Banga soup in some parts of the country. It’s often served with boiled rice, and prepared with well seasoned meats or fresh fish.  

Ekwang

Ekwang is a Cameroon cuisine that’s now being cooked in a lot of UK kitchens. It’s essentially a stew prepared by peeling and grating cocoyams or taro – then mixed with smoked meats or fish, cooked with spices and other aromatic ingredients.

Kelewele

A hugely popular Ghanaian dish, which is often eaten as a dessert or tasty vegetarian snack. It’s made from fried plantains and seasoned with spices – then mostly served with beans and rice.  

Changing perceptions

Many more cultural dishes from grilled tilapia, to Baobab are all set to go mainstream this year, and all of these foods are currently being taken by many UK restaurants – reinterpreted with local produce and innovative culinary techniques.  

This is all aimed at changing UK perceptions of West African food, which was once considered to be reserved only for home cooking, too basic or too spicy.

With all this promotion for various West African dishes and ingredients, from supermarkets to restaurants, there’s no doubt that this trend will be much more than just a flash in the pan in 2018.