Four essential African veggie recipes to try out this weekend

These four amazingly simple recipes take their inspiration from four classic African vegetables that are becoming more commonly available in the UK and more popular in homes and restaurants alike. Try them out over a sunny weekend spent with friends to add something a bit different to your table.

1. Fried plantain chips


This recipe really couldn’t be simpler. It basically only has two steps!

Plantains, for those who don’t know, look a bit like very large bananas. They have an interesting mild flavour, mostly savoury but with a hint of sweetness, not unlike a sweet potato.

You can buy plantains from a lot of corner shops in large cities, especially in areas that have large African populations. Some supermarkets also stock them too. If you can’t find them in the vegetable aisle, try looking in the world food section.

To make plantain chips for 6 – 8 people you will need roughly 10 medium/large plantains.

Here’s what to do:

1) Peel the plantains. The peels are inedible, just like on a banana.
2) Cut into fairly thick slices, as shown above.
3) Season to taste. You can use just salt and pepper, or add some chilli or cayenne pepper for an extra kick.
4) Lightly fry in a pan with vegetable or olive oil.
5) Serve immediately.

That’s it!

2. Egusi Stew (melon seed)


Egusi are melon seeds. The most popular variety sold come from the watermelon, but other varieties are available. They are, like many kinds of seeds and nuts, rich in protein and healthy forms of low-cholesterol fats. In West Africa egusi is often used as a healthy way to thicken soups. It is used ground and can be bought in powdered form from many world food sections of large supermarkets.

Here’s what to do:

Egusi are used in all kinds of soups, with leaf vegetables, root vegetables as well as meat. Here is a simple recipe for a vegetarian stew.

1) Take your ground egusi and add it to a hot pan with about 4 tablespoons of palm oil. If you can’t get palm oil use another flavourless oil like groundnut oil (but make sure nobody you’re serrving has a nut allergy if you’re using this oil!).

2) Add chopped cabbage, bitterleaf, onion, red pepper, potato and cook these until they just off being tender (still slightly crunchy).

3) Add vegetable stock, pumpkin seeds and salt and pepper to season.

4) Let this simmer on a low heat, stirring occasionally until all the vegetables are tender.

That’s it!

3. Stewed green beans


Green beans have become very popular all over the world and are easy to obtain everywhere! They are used in French, British and Indian cookery as common ingredients and also often appear as a common side dish in South African cookery. Here is a simple recipe for South African style stewed beans.

Here’s what to do:

1) Cut your green beans into pieces, this doesn’t need to be precise.
2) Finely chop potato and onion and add these to a pot with hot oil along with the green beans until the onions are translucent and the potatoes and beans are partly cooked.
3) Add in 1/3 of a cup of water with 1 table spoon sugar, half a table spoon salt and two pinches of pepper.
4) Bring this to the boil and cook until everything is very soft.
5) Roughly mash the vegetables together until you have a chunky mash.

That’s it!

4. Nigerian Akara using black beans


Akara is a very popular snack and is often also eaten for breakfast in Nigeria. Here’s how to make them! It’s an easy recipe, but you need to remember to SOAK THE BEANS OVERNIGHT.

Here’s what to do:

1) Peel the beans. Or, if this is too fiddly, you can cheat and pulse them lightly in a blender.
2) Put the beans in a blender, add onion (finely chopped), one vegetable stock cube, one cup water (for non veggies you can also add crayfish powder).
3) Blend until you have a fine smooth mixture.
4) Heat oil in a pan until it is hot but NOT bubbling. You want to avoid burning the Akara on the outside but not cooking them in the middle.
5) Spoon the mixture into the pan (a bit like you would cooking a pancake).
6) Fry the Akara until they are golden brown.

That’s it!

Happy cooking!

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