Travel the World Through Your Kitchen

Foods from Across Africa

As you dream about a trip to Africa, you might want to simultaneously stimulate your senses by exploring African food recipes. Three energetic and imaginative chefs can take you there through their book, Foods from Across Africa, Recipes to Share.

Duval Timothy, Folayemi Brown and Jacob Fodio Todd. Photo: Toby Glanville

Duval Timothy, Jacob Fodio Todd and Folayemi Brown have collaborated to create this gorgeous, coffee table book published by HarperCollins, with outstanding photos and easy to follow recipes. The genesis of the book stems from a bimonthly supper club the three friends started in 2012 called The Groundnut.

Groundnut stew “is a dish to be shared with others—it’s one of the things that best represents what our dinners are about,” the authors said. Like the stew, the evening suppers showcased their childhood foods influenced by their West and East Africa heritage. With families in Ghana, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Kenya and South Sudan, the young chef created menus reflected the traditional ingredients spiced up with new combinations.

The supper club evenings took place in London where they live. In 2012, they hosted 34 guests on long tables in St John’s Hall, a landmark building near the famous Tower Bridge in London. A year later, they hosted more than 200 people over one week at a South London gallery space. Their dinners were enormously popular and always a sell-out.

The cookbook is a celebration of the recipes and menus they have prepared. Here is one and read more in Healthy Aging Magazine.

Fresh Turmeric Red Lentils

Makes about 8 servings

It’s important to use fresh turmeric root in this recipe. It has a wonderful aroma, with hints of citrus that are lost in the powdered form. You may want to have ready some disposable gloves and an apron, because it can stain very easily. The taste of this dish improves with standing time and into the next day.

1 pound medium sweet potatoes
Scant 2 tablespoons coconut oil
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 teaspoon hot paprika
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
½ teaspoon chili powder
½ ounce fresh turmeric
Generous 2 cups vegetable stock
5 ounces fresh plum tomatoes
3 ½ ounces red lentils (preferable whole, unsplit, skin-on)
Preheat the oven to 400°F.

Peel the sweet potatoes, halve them lengthwise, and cut crosswise at 1-inch intervals. You should now have rough half-moon discs. Put them into a large bowl.

Melt the coconut oil if it’s solid, then smother it over the sweet potatoes.

Add the salt and dried spices and rub well with your hands so they are evenly distributed. Put them on a baking sheet, place in the oven in the top third, and set a timer for 15 minutes, turning the sweet potatoes after about 7 minutes.

In the meantime prepare the lentils. Peel the fresh turmeric with a teaspoon. We find that much like ginger it’s easier to get into the crevices and minimize wastage this way. Pound with a pestle and mortar until it becomes a fine, juicy paste.

Add the stock, tomatoes, and fresh turmeric to a deep pot. Place over medium heat. Rinse the lentils in a fine-mesh sieve and add to the pan. Gently bring to a boil, then simmer over low heat, covered, for 8 minutes. Do not leave for longer than this without checking, because lentils can overcook quickly.

Check the sweet potatoes. You want them so that you can put a fork through each piece with ease. They should taste spicy, salty, and sweet from the caramelization. Check your lentils. They are ready when they are translucent, without sunburnt orange spots of the original color at the core. The stock will reduce significantly as the lentils absorb water. Remove from the heat.

When the sweet potatoes are done, add them to the lentils and fold them into the mix.

Serve warm, and reheat over very low temperature so the lentils don’t overcook.

From Food From Across Africa by Duval Timothy, Jacob Fodio Todd, and Folayemi Brown. Copyright 2016, Duval Timothy, Jacob Fodio Todd, and Folayemi Brown. Excerpted by permission of Ecco, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.
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