International Flavor Trends: Africa

a bowl of spicy Senegalese sweet potato and peanut soup.Jun 2, 2023

In many parts of Africa, peanuts are usually known as groundnuts because the nut pods grow underground. Peanuts play an important nutritional role in many parts of Africa since they have good fats and contain 7 grams of protein which helps combat child malnutrition. They grow well in semi-arid regions and are a staple food as well as a revenue source for farmers. Although native to South America, the Portuguese introduced peanuts into their African enclaves, where they quickly spread throughout tropical Africa.

According to the National Restaurant Association in Washington D.C., “African flavors are the hottest new cuisine to be explored by chefs around the country”. African cuisine is acquiring popularity in the US by becoming a part of everyday American cuisine and is proving to be quite the crowd-pleaser. It can be classified into areas like Northern, Southern, Central, Eastern and Western Africa. North African and West African cuisines are the most popular in the United States currently. The history along with the different cultural interactions of these regions play a vital role in their cuisine and recipes. Most of the dishes that use peanuts and peanut butter as an ingredient include soups, stews and sauces.

In West Africa, peanuts are used in authentic soups, stew or marinades whereas peanut butter is used as a thickener in many dishes. Peanut oil is also popular along with palm and coconut oils. West Africans love hot spices and peanuts in their food! On the other hand, in North Africa peanuts are mainly used in marinades and rubs to add flavor.

African Foods on the Menu in America

African foods are more than ever influencing modern American cuisine as can be seen in the flavor trends. Across the United States, African and American restaurants serve authentic ethnic dishes that have peanut ingredients on their menu. Most African restaurants serve similar dishes prepared with regional twists depending on the chef’s origin.

Appioo African Bar & Grill in Washington DC has a peanut soup and kebabs with spicy succulent peanut butter seasoning. Dreylse in Ohio offers a beef peanut butter and a peanut butter soup. Chef Marcus Samuelson with the help of Chefs Maame Boakye and Rachel Hien created the Red Rooster’s Peanut Soup Recipe which is served on the menu at Red Rooster Restaurant in Harlem and also at special events. Diners experience the integrity and true African ethnic flavors.

American chefs are also incorporating African cuisine in their menu items by either tweaking traditional recipes or reviving ancient dishes. From renowned famous chefs like Emeril Lagasse, the African Peanut Soup is a favorite! Moosewood Restaurant, New York serves a West African peanut soup and peanut stew which are hearty and super-easy to make and great for peanut butter lovers.

Whether it is a peanut casserole with chicken, okra, chili and other spices or Bambara, a peanut butter rice pudding, there is always a meal that can use some African flavor! You can go on an African flavor adventure with peanuts.

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