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A Taste Of Africa Food Glossary

What are the spices, vegetables, seeds and grains for traditional West African foods to eat? Here we list the common items used over west African countries like Sierra Leone. This is brought to you by the author Dorinda Hafner who has travelled to the many countries Egypt, Morocco, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Nigeria, Mali, Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, Zimbabwe and other more non-African: Brazil, Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica, Cuba, Louisiana (USA) where African cooking has taken root (each gets its own chapter with several recipes) in her cook book A Taste Of Africa. Here are the book's glossary of terms.

  • ablémamu or ablemamu roasted ground corn. A thickening agent from Ghana made by grinding dry roasted maize to a powder.
  • ackee edible fruit (when cooked) of seed pods of Blighia sapida, a tree common to Africa and the Caribbean. Available fresh or tinned
  • apem baby plantain
  • aportoryiwa (Ghana) a round earthenware bowl of the Akan tribe
  • banku (Ghana) cornmeal dumpling
  • berberé or berbere (Ethiopia) a dry spice seasoning, usually include chili peppers, garlic, ginger, basil, korarima, rue, ajwain or radhuni
  • cajun a person born in Louisiana and descended from the French exiles of Acadia in Canada
  • collalooo a green-leafed plant used as a form of spinach in the West Indies
  • capsicum sweet or bell pepper
  • chilli hot pepper
  • chinchin sweet West African dough balls
  • cocoyam taro
  • coriander cilantro
  • corn yellow maize
  • cornflour cornstarch
  • couscous durum wheat grains
  • creole originally those of European (particularly French and Spanish) descent born in the West Indies, Spanish America or the southern United States. Also a person born in the West Indies or Spanish America and descended from African slaves. Also a person of mixed European and African ancestry in those places
  • dasheen a term by which varieties of 'spinach' are known in some Caribbean countries
  • dende oil (Brazil) palm oil
  • eggplant aubergine
  • egushi pumpkin seeds. Also known as pepitas
  • eta (Ghana) flat-ended Ashanti wooden mosher
  • fufu a variety of dumpling frequently made from root vegetables. Also known as foofoo in the West Indies
  • fuul medames a variety of brown broadbean, particularly popular in Egypt in a dish of the same name
  • gari coarse cassava powder. Also known as manioc or in Brazil as farinhe de mandioca and in French-speaking countries as farine de manioc
  • groundnuts peanuts
  • gumbo a thick soup or stew, generally containing okro (okra) amongst many other ingredients, and popular in Africa, the Caribbean and the southern United States
  • gungo peas Jamaican term for pigeon peas
  • hamine eggs eggs boiled in their shells in stew or soups to take up the colour and flavour. Popular in Egypt
  • jollof a West African risotto
  • kaawe or kaawé traditional African cooking (meat tenderising) stone
  • kenkey wrapped cornmeal dumpling (general term)
  • komi (Ghana) corn dumpling (Ga regional terminology)
  • kontomirie or kontomirié leaves of the cocoyam (taro) plant
  • kubecake West African coconut rum balls
  • loo (Ghana) fish or meat (Ga regional terminology)
  • manioc coarse cassava powder. Also known as gari in West Africa, farinhe de mandioca in Brazil and farine de manioc in French-speaking countries
  • makhrata Egyptian double-handed metal chopper
  • mashamba a local variety of Zimbabwean pumpkin
  • mealie meal Southern African thickened corn porridge
  • mchicha leafy plant similar to spinach (silver beet), a staple food in Tanzania
  • mitmita (Ethiopia) a variety of yellow pepper moi-moi Nigerian savoury bean pate (paté)
  • pepita pumpkin seed. Also known as egushi
  • plantain a member of the banana family. Should only be eaten when cooked
  • pawpaw papaya rapoko red millet flour
  • sadza (Zimbabwe) white maize or millet dumpling shallots spring onions
  • shitor (Ghana) chilli sambal
  • snow peas mange tout
  • spinach silver beet. Also a generic term used for different edible green leaves of plants indigenous to various African or Caribbean countries, such as callaloo, dasheen, etc
  • wot Ethiopian stew
  • zucchini courgette

Source: A Taste Of Africa By Dorinda Hafner. Traditional recipes and adapted for the modern home cook.