African Appetizers are tasty, mostly crispy, short-bites, prepared as a treat to celebrate festivities and special occasions such as family re-unions, parties and weddings by the Africans. African appetizers are unique in that they are made with some ingredients that are typically not used in starters made elsewhere in the world. These include items like yams, plantains, beans, bananas, cassava, corn and the more common potatoes as well as onions. Many of these are native ingredients and they have been part of African Culinary tradition down the ages. Seasonings such as fragrant spices and fresh or dry herb blends are added in order to create special flavors, totally unique to each geographical region.
Popular African Appetizers
1. Akkra Fritters: a fairly simple starter from West Africa, prepared using black eyed beans ground to paste along with onions, garlic and certain spices like peppers. These are a highly nutritious owing to the protein and fibre content of the beans, the only drawback being that they are deep fried till crisp and golden.
2. Baked Sweet Potato: a healthy quick snack made using African Sweet potato that requires roasting in coal ovens similar to the American baked potato. Sweet Potato has high Vitamin B6 (offering cardio-protective benefits), Vitamin C (with immunity building effects) and Vitamin D (maintaining bone health and thyroid function) levels. It is also a good source of iron, magnesium, potassium (needed for vital functions) and beta carotenes (with anticancer properties).
3. Boiled Cassava is simply prepared by boiling cassava with salt in water for long enough to destroy the naturally occurring toxic cyanide. Then it is sprinkled with lemon juice, black pepper and eaten as an accompaniment to lamb/beef or vegetable stews or with a spicy sauce. This calorie dense food is low in sugar, high in starch and potassium.
A similar appetizer may be prepared with green plantains.
4. Ethiopian Buticha: is a traditional chickpea spread made by blending boiled chickpeas, red chilli pepper flakes, red shallots, olive oil, mustard, salt, pepper, lemon juice to a smooth paste.
5. Boiled or Grilled corn, are delightful summer appetizers made using the starchy maize grain consumed widely throughout Africa. Fresh corn is rich in dietary fiber, thiamin, folate, vitamin C, magnesium, phosphorous and many other nutrients. It is also low in cholesterol, saturated fat and sodium making it a healthful appetizer.
6. Plantain/Potato/Yam/Cassava/Sweet Potato/Onion Fritters are thoroughly enjoyed as appetizers.
These are some of the interesting and unique appetizers typical of traditional African Cuisine.