West African food served in SA
African foods and flavours are as
diverse and colourful as the continent,
and yet African cuisine is celebrated
more in other parts of the world than
right here at home.
Generally, South Africans aren't
adventurous eaters, especially when it
comes to trying out cuisine from the
rest of the continent, especially West
However, beyond our borders, there
is an explosion of culinary excellence
waiting to happen.
The West African food trend is said
to be one of the biggest culinary trends
in 2019, and it's predicted to become
more popular in the coming months.
Restaurants around the world are
already capitalising on this trend by
including more African-inspired dishes
alongside their fine dining European-style
Many local chefs are also doing
their part to promote African food as
more West African-inspired dishes are
popping up on restaurant menus.
Even social media platforms are
filled with plates of Jollof rice, fried
plantain and colourful vegetables as
foodies from around the continent
and the world celebrate Africa on a
The beauty of these dishes is
in the explosion of flavours and their
Fatima Kamanga, the owner of Fatima's
West African Restaurant in Cape Town,
opened her restaurant long
before her offerings became trendy.
In the centre of the CBD, and surrounded
by other culinary hot spots,
Kamanga says she has noticed an
increase in the number of locals who
frequent her establishment.
"We serve a wide selection of local
food like pap, rice, Jollof, braai meat
and even fish and sausage.
A lot of my new customers are
locals, and they seem to really enjoy
the food. The people love it because
(West African food) is good food. People
always come back for more," she says.
Not wanting to give away her cooking
secrets, the Malian restaurateur
says West African food is "different
because we make it differently".
"Our food is very different and it's
because of our spices. It's not the same
as (other styles of cooking)," she adds.
On the flip side, SA Top Chef judge
and author of Dijo, Lesego Semenya,
disagrees on the West African social
food trend on South African plates.
"I actually did a Pan-African cooking
class two months ago. West African
food, it's not for South Africans, hey.
I've realised that Jollof rice and all the
West African dishes, they do more
and they cook
food until it's dead," he says.
Semenya says it may take a while
for South African palates to adjust to
this style of cooking.
"South African palates aren't used
to that type of cuisine, although we're
trying to the more we travel. Most of
the time when we cook that type of
for people who are tourists
here or West Africans themselves.
"I've tried myself to get South Africans
into a new type of cuisine, but we
have this mentality – we need to ease
into it, little by little – so not a full course
meal, maybe one dish.
just Jollof rice or plantains, something
people will recognise on the plate."
Semenya concludes: "Getting the
big stores involved as well will help,
because if people see the ingredients in
the store then they are more interested
in cooking with it."