West African cuisine might not be as famous as Indian, Lebanese, Moroccan food etc. in Dubai, but let me tell you my fellow Dubai residents, you are missing out on the most delicious food in African continent!!!
Dubai is such a multicultural city that West African cuisine should be among the list of most popular food here. Dubai residents are curious, open minded, tolerant, respectful, there is no better place to introduce our West African food here.
I’ve been wondering for a while why don’t we have real West African restaurants in the city. I noticed these past few years that the Western part of Africa is showing a growing interest to migrate to Dubai due to the extensive advertisement campaigns done by the UAE in these countries.
For example, whenever I go back in my home country which is Guinea Republic, people are so impressed when I tell them that I live in Dubai. Young people are eager to come here and to take the chance to achieve their dreams. Moreover, the UAE makes it easy for local populations to acquire a visit visa and to build a business relationship with Dubai entrepreneurs. I’m hoping to see more West Africans in town so we can introduce and share our beautiful food culture with our fellow Dubai residents.
Ok enough talk about west African population and let’s get to the real thing which is the food. It’s so delicious, different from anything that you have tried so far and for those who love spicy (talking to my Indian friends here J), you will not be disappointed.
It is known that west African food has influenced so many cultures in the world.
Let’s go back a bit in the colonial period when West African people were trading with Europe and Mediterranean. Tomatoes, peanut and chillies were introduced to West African by European and in turn they took rice, black eyed peas, okra, etc back with them. We all know how rice or Okra is an essential ingredient in many parts of the world today, and this is just a small example…
West African cuisine encompasses the cooking traditions and techniques of sixteen individual countries: Benin, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, and Togo. There are many common threads within these countries, but the way of cooking might differ because of traditions and cultures.
West African Restaurants in Dubai
I spent a long time searching for authentic West African food in Dubai but let me tell you that search was disappointing. I came across a restaurant called Kiza in DIFC, tried the food but just found it ok. In my opinion, it’s difficult for a restaurant to be specialised in all African dishes because the continent is so vast and diverse.
The only place where I can say that I did have some real west African food is in Deira. This neighbourhood is known for its large market and the living place of most African workers. You don’t go there looking for a nice and chic restaurant but just to eat the good food :)
West African dishes to explore in Dubai
Here’s a list of West African dishes you must try in Dubai. Most countries have their own versions of these dishes.
The Jollof rice is considered as the king on West African dishes. It consists of rice slowly cooked in a special sauce with a variety of vegetables that will definitely transport you to West African lands. Each country has their own version of this dish, with intense rivalries between neighboring countries as to whose Jollof rice is the best. The Senegalese thieboudjene (picture below) is thought to be the ancestor of the Jollof rice.
Atieke, fish, plantains
National dish of Ivory Coast, this dish is made of cassava couscous. It can be served with Fish and Banana plantains and raw vegetables. Let’s go to Abidjan!!
Peanut butter soup
African peanut stew made in a spicy, raw peanut butter and tomato sauce served with rice or fonio. This dish can be found in many west African countries
This dish consist of fluffy dough ball made from ingredients like pounded yam, sweet potato, cassava, taro, banana plantains or maize. It can be served with a flavorful soup, sauce, or stew.
Chicken Yassa consists of moist and tender chicken pieces, marinated with lots of onions, mustard and lemon juice which gives it an incredible aroma, this Yassa chicken is definitely a dish that you have to try.
Sweet potatoes leaves sauce
Popular Guinean dish made from sweet potato leaves, fish, beef and organic and unrefined palm oil that can be served with Rice or Fonio. Let’s visit Conakry!!
This dish consists of okra and eggplant cuts into small pieces cooked in a spicy tomatoes and vegetable sauce that offers an earthy flavor and gelatinous texture. It is served with Rice or Fonio.
Native to Burkina Faso, Guinea, Senegal, and Mali, fonio is considered as the west African heritage grain by being the oldest cereal that is cultivated in the continent. It has so many health benefits, for instance, it has very low level of cholesterol, sodium and fat and is a good source of vitamin D. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) suggests that fonio has the highest calcium content of all grains.
In my country for example, people with diabetes opt for fonio instead of rice for its health benefits. It can be served with a flavorful soup, sauce, stew or even yogurt.
So my fellow Dubai residents, what are you waiting for? Give it a try, I’m convinced that you will not be disappointed. Want to know more? Contact us at www.afrobaobab.com