African Staple Foods usually include yams and cassava along with a few vegetables that are widely used like the okra and plantains. Meat is often used to flavor the main staples instead of being served as a separate main food dish. Beans and lentils are used along with the staples like yam with millets being utilized as a staple in some parts of Africa as well. Sorghum is another produce often alternating with the local staple in most parts of the African continent.
Cultivation of local staples on a large scale or commercial basis has still not caught up. On the contrary, most households grow their staples themselves which is used on a day to day basis for preparing meals.
Cassava consists of a white flesh which is hard in consistency. The flour prepared from it is used extensively for preparing daily meals. The poisonous cyanide is completely removed by fermentation or boiling before the vegetable is dried and grinded into flour.
The dry area of Africa, particularly the Eastern region uses millet exclusively as a staple food. The plant can grow without requiring water for long periods of time making it one of the most preferred produces of Africa.
The white colored yams are boiled, roasted and fried as chips. Several African communities eat mashed yams along with a side dish of okra or green bananas. Meat based dishes are usually served with yams during festive occasions.
History of African Staple Foods
Sorghum and millets are indigenous to Africa with Nigeria leading in the production of the latter. Yams and cassava had been introduced to the African mainland by the Europeans during colonization and have been adopted by the continent as their staple food grains eventually. The tastes of the Africans have altered due to the introduction of new agricultural products courtesy the Arab traders and European colonists. Rica and wheat along with spices are also regularly imported from China and India now.
Popular African Staple Foods from Different Cuisines
- East African Cisine- Yucca/Manioc or fried cassava, boiled cassava
- Western African Cuisine- Fufu made with fermented yam roots, Tapalapa bread, Ngome(millet bread)
- Central African Cuisine- Fufu(fermented cassava roots); Saka-saka(cassava greens)
- North African Cuisine- couscous, Kesra (both breads are made from semolina unlike other African staples)
- South African Cuisine- Mielie-meal (coarsely ground maize)
- African American Cuisine- Candied Yams, Black beans & Millet salad