Africa is a diversified continent with regard to its environment, population, and cuisines. They are well-regarded for having hundreds of different ethnic and societal groupings in the continent that unites and binds the cultures of each country. Africans spurred a culinary revolution that has affected and is still influencing every area of global food. While certain recipes have changed and evolved over time to accommodate their new environment and resource availability worldwide, many ingredients, spices, and cooking techniques still return to their African roots – including some of the continent’s native-grown fruits.
1. Matoke. A common variety of banana fruit in East Africa – especially Uganda. This type is shorter than its typical banana and is called “green cooking bananas”. It has a green exterior and white flesh that becomes golden when cooked.
Matoke plays a similar role to potatoes in African cuisine because of their starchy and somewhat sweet flavor. Thus, the name of a well-known dish found in various African cuisines is also called “matoke“. It is a meal of boiled and mashed matoke that is served with meat, crushed peanuts, and vegetable stew.
2. Ackee. It is known as the national fruit of Jamaica. Due to its high level of toxins, ackee should not be eaten until it is fully ripe. However, the ackee fruit cracks apart to show the seeds when it is fully ripe. It is
excellent for a healthy lifestyle because it is high in vitamins and low in calories. It goes by the names Akee apple, Feso, Otousi, Ankye, and Gwanja kousa locally.
Although ackee may be consumed raw, its nutty and slightly sweet flavor makes it a perfect fruit for frying or cooking with meats and other foods.
3. Tamarind. It is a seasonal fruit cultivated in West Africa with a delicious, gooey orange flesh and a black velvet shell that is famed for its sweet-sour taste. Tamarind is renowned for its low-fat content and high levels of fiber, vitamins, and other minerals.
Awin, Yoyi, Veludo, and Icheku are a few of the various names for this fruit. It may be soaked in water to create tamarind juice – a popular African beverage. This is also widely used to season food.
4. African Baobab. A giant egg-shaped fruit with dried and hardened flesh inside is referred to as the “queen of super fruits.” This fruit tastes acidic and has a dry feel.
The baobab tree is large and sturdy; its leaves, roots, bark, and fruits have a wide range of uses and are consumed for their beneficial properties. This is the only fruit in the world that naturally dries while still on the branch. It is present in the majority of African nations (Senegal, Sudan, South Africa, the Central African Republic, Sudan, Ethiopia, and Mali).
5. Lastly, Marula. The historical stone fruit is indigenous to North, West, East, and Southern Africa. The fruit is green when it is unripe and falls to the ground eventually becoming yellow when it is ripe. It has a rich, sweet-sour taste and is succulent.
Numerous additional names for this fruit include Maroela, Cider Tree, Morula, Cat Thorn, and more. It may be used to produce juice, jam, and alcoholic drinks in addition to being consumed raw or cooked.
These fruits have been widely used in numerous dishes, proving that African civilizations have been spreading their culinary imprint on the world through trading and migrations. A taste of their fruits that has both richness and sharpness of savor will enliven your senses and opens up a world of extraordinary exotic flavors.
Africa had a massive effect on cultural practices worldwide, including what we eat daily. Not only with their spices incorporated with a wide range of dishes globally, but also the continent’s fruits’ influence to make the plates more colorful and delightful. Along with their unique taste, these fruits and their trees have various health benefits, making them more interesting to people.