African food has been earmarked as the next big cuisine to look out for on the culinary scene. Flavours from Africa are inching their way onto mainstream menus in restaurants in Australia and around the globe, leaving foodies to wonder why they hadn’t discovered African cuisine sooner.
At The Meat & Wine Co, our menu blends authentic African flavours with contemporary Australian influences. But what sort of dishes might you find on a traditional African food menu, and how do they influence our offerings at The Meat & Wine Co? Let’s take a look.
What are the traditional flavours of African food?
As a widespread and culturally diverse continent, African cuisine encompasses a huge variety of flavours and ingredients. Central Africa, East Africa, North Africa, Southern Africa and West Africa has distinctive dishes, preparation techniques, and traditions that shape each area’s culinary offerings.
Stretching from the Tibesti Mountains in the north to the rainforest basin of the Congo River, Central African cuisine is based on locally-grown foods like plantains, cassava, peanuts and chilli pepper plants.
Peanut stew is common and often contains chicken, okra, ginger, and other spices. Bambara, a porridge of rice, peanut butter and sugar, is also a favourite. Beef and chicken are common meat dishes, but game meat dishes containing crocodile, monkey, elephant, antelope and warthog are also served occasionally.
East African cuisine varies from area to area. The most well-known Ethio-Eritrean cuisine consists of various vegetable or meat side dishes and entrées, usually a wat (a thick stew), served with injera, a type of sourdough flatbread.
Somali cuisine comprises an exotic mixture of culinary influences. All food is served halal, and main dishes are usually rice-based, flavoured with spices like cumin, cardamom, cloves, cinnamon and sage.
Traditional West African cuisine is made with starchy root vegetables, and can contain meat, fish and various herbs and spices. A popular dish is fufu, usually made from yams, cocoyams, or cassava, or sometimes from cereal grains like millet, sorghum or plantains.
The recipes of West Africa are based on local customs and traditions, and often contain ingredients like rice, fonio, millet, sorghum, black-eyed beans, brown beans, and root vegetables. Common cooking techniques include roasting, baking, boiling, frying, mashing, and spicing.
North African cuisine encompasses the cooking of the Maghreb region of Africa, which includes Algeria, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, and Tunisia. Well-known dishes from this region include couscous, pastilla and tagine stew.
Maghreb cuisine is diverse and flavourful, with common ingredients including couscous, fish, seafood, goat, lamb, beef, dates, almonds, olives and various vegetables and fruits. Because the region is predominantly Muslim, meats are usually halal. Most dishes are flavoured with spices like cumin, ginger, paprika, cinnamon and saffron.
South African food melds flavours and dishes made by indigenous people of Africa such as the Sotho and Nguni-speaking people, with more Western styles of cooking that were introduced during the colonial period. As such, South African cuisine is a melting pot of flavours from all over the world, including indigenous African people, the Dutch, German, French and British.
The local Khoisan people of Southern Africa have been roasting and drying meat for thousands of years. Their dietary influence is evident on many modern South African dinner tables, where locals share a love of barbecue (known as a “braai”). Beef, mutton, goat, chicken and other meats are popular amongst the meat-loving population.
Try African-inspired food and wine at The Meat & Wine Co.
At The Meat & Wine Co, our South African heritage plays a big role in our culinary approach. Every cut of steak on our food menu is prepared perfection on the grill – just like a traditional South African “braai” – with an authentic South African basting.
The quality of our beef is paramount, which is why we source it from Monte Beef, our exclusive supplier with a multi-channel monitored program to ensure only the most top graded steak served.
We also serve up traditional dishes like Boerewors, coriander, cumin and beef sausage, with pap croquettes and spicy chakalaka.
To complement our South African-inspired dishes, you’ll find a selection of South African varietals and blends on our wine list, as well as wines from top wine regions in Australia and around the globe. Each wine has been hand-picked for its superior flavour, finish and character.
Looking for African restaurants in Melbourne, Sydney or Perth? Try South African cuisine with a difference at The Meat & Wine Co. Make a reservation online.