Are you wondering what you might find when visiting an African specialty store whether in person or online? Here are just five items that might interest you:
Introduced to Africa in the 16th century, Cassava grows well during drought and serves as a reliable staple food throughout many parts of the region today. This starchy root veggie is easy to grow and can be prepared in numerous ways. Cassava is used in Africa to make tasty soups and stews, flatbread, chips, mashes, and a variety of side dishes. It holds up well on the counter, so it can be purchased days before it is needed for a recipe.
This is a melon, but it is not sweet like watermelon or honeydew is. Instead, it is bitter when bitten into. However, the fruit flesh is not what makes this a popular food in Africa. It is the seeds that are crushed and mashed, then used in soups and stews as a thickener and for extra nutrients. Egusi melon can be tough to find in the regular grocery store, but you should be able to find it at an African specialty store.
This ingredient comes from the tamarind tree, which is indigenous to Africa. The pods of the tree are half sweet and half sour when fully mature, at which point they can be used to create a multitude of different things such as marinades, sauces, soups, chutneys, rice dishes, noodle dishes, and desserts. Tamarind is also popularly used to make Worcestershire sauce.
This is a chili paste that is predominantly used in North Africa. It is made of roasted sweet and spicy peppers, spices, and herbs. Harissa is served with breakfast dishes that include eggs, lunch dishes that include brochettes, and dinner dishes that include meats and potatoes. It can also be incorporated into stews, rice dishes, and sides like mashed yams.
Used as a marinade and relish in many parts of Africa, chermoula is herby and flavorful. Each region makes this sauce a little differently, but common ingredients include garlic, onion, coriander, lemon juice, and chili peppers. Depending on the region the sauce comes from, other ingredients may include pickled lemons, saffron, and black pepper.
These are just a few of the different specialty items you are likely to find at an African food and personal care store. Visit your local African store or check them out online to learn more about the African foods you can get your hands on.