A typical West African meal is heavy with starchy items, meat, spices and flavors. A wide array of staples are eaten across the region, including those of Fufu (Foofoo), Foutou, Banku, Kenkey, Couscous, Tô, and Garii (Gari) which are served alongside soups and stews. Fufu is often made from starchy root vegetables such as yams, cocoyams, or cassava, but also from cereal grains like millet, sorghum or plantains. The staple grain or starch varies region to region and ethnic group to ethnic group, although corn has gained significant ground as it is cheap, swells to greater volumes and creates a beautiful white final product that is greatly desired. Banku and Kenkey are maize dough staples, and Gari (Garii) is made from dried grated cassavas. Rice-dishes are also widely eaten in the region, especially in the dry Sahel belt inland. Examples of these include Benachin from the Gambia and Jollof rice, a pan-West African rice dish similar to Arab kabsah, with its origins from Ghana.
Seeds of Guinea pepper (Aframomum melegueta; also called grains of paradise or melagueta pepper) a native West African plant, were used as a spice and even reached Europe, through North African middlemen, during the Middle Ages. Centuries before the influence of Europeans, West African people were trading with the Arab world and spices like cinnamon, cloves, and mint were not unknown and became part of the local flavorings. Centuries later, the Portuguese, French and British influenced the regional cuisines, but only to a limited extent.... Tomatoes have become ubiquitous components of West African cuisine... ...Many dishes combine fish and meat... ...palm oil and groundnut are used in many meals.
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