African cuisine is yet to be discovered, I mean, West African cuisine. Even though there are gazillions of restaurants in Dubai, there is not a single one of them that serves West African food. There are however, the South African steak houses and the North African ones (Moroccan, Egyptian, Ethiopian and so on) although the food is middle eastern. Even in books, like food and travel books or cookbooks, Western Africa always occupies a few pages, if any.
So I decided to do it myself an open this new category Exploreating Africa, to give African food (from the west, east, north and south) a chance.
To start, let me give you a very quick introduction on the basics of West African cuisine: Tomatoes, onions and chillies are the mirepoix of any west African dish. The base for almost everything, that and palm oil. And starch, starch, starch!
At the beginning of Jan I went to Accra, Ghana. As I usually do, I made a food plan, although it did not really need much planning except from asking around what the Ghanaian national dishes were and where to eat them, and with my list in hand I asked the concierge at the hotel which of the restaurants he though was better for an authentic Ghanaian meal.
Me and some colleagues took a taxi and off we went on a little West African dinner adventure, and I say adventure because in Africa everything I do feels like one. Approximately 20 minutes later we arrived at this beautiful restaurant called Buka. It is an open-air terrace with a thatch roof that suited us perfectly for the warm winter evening (typical of tropical countries), but the best part was that at every table sat local people. Exactly, do like the locals do. As if the excitement of being there was not enough, I read the menu and saw that they had every single dish in my must-try-when-in-ghana list as well as dishes from Nigeria, Senegal and Ivory Coast. I was so happy that hurt!
Not being able to control my self I ordered everything on my list: Banku, Ampesie (both Yam and Plantain), Shaki and Kontomire stew; and convinced my colleagues to order the other dishes that I also wanted to try but thought it would be too much to digest (Jollof rice and Goat stew).
No one knew what to expect, since it was the first time for all of us to try this and we had barely understood the menu. But when the food arrived a few minutes later and I dug my fork and tasted it, it was heavenly. The taste, the aroma, the texture. Oh my god the texture! It has a very mild spinach-like flavor and the chillies and spices give it just the right amount of heat. That Kontomire stew was exactly what I needed.
Having gorged myself and my taste buds, I took a picture of the menu and marked what I had, so the next time I find myself in Buka I make sure to order a new dish.
This little adventure of exploring and eating western Africa, resulted in a great evening with amazing food. I couldn’t have asked for more.
If you know a good authentic African restaurant in Dubai, please let me know.
As you can see in this post I concentrated on the Kontomire stew. I will post the other dishes separately, but if you can not wait or want to know more about the food or Buka, drop me a line.