West African cuisine is hot!

West Africa has been around for a  few thousand years but its cuisine is coming to the forefront with the support of a restaurant called Ikoyi which opened earlier this year. A four star review from Fay Maschler helped, with the headline “West African dynamism not to be missed”. I was there a month again and the food is a revelation, flavours you know, mixed to a different intensity, with some chilli heat. New suppliers are coming to the market with marinades, oils and sauces, as seen at the recent trade fairs I’ve attended. It will be coming to your table soon!

Cow Foot, Dark Beer & Penja Pepper at Ikoyi
Cow Foot, Dark Beer & Penja Pepper at Ikoyi

What does it taste like? Hot! Scotch bonnet is the traditional chilli of choice, (though you will find mellower versions available at all the restaurants and suppliers mentioned) but it is the mix of spices and pepper that gives a distinct taste of the region, peanuts often feature in stews.

Where can I buy it? You can buy Zims Tribe marinade, sauces and oils at their online shop.  Penja pepper, is available from Amazon as used in Ikoyi’s starter.  It is a white pepper from the volcanic soil of eastern Cameroon, which has a musky perfume with lingering heat but not the fierceness of black pepper. Use with pork and fish dishes to season the dish before serving.

Any recipe suggestions? Try this traditional West African chicken and peanut stew recipe from Diana Henry’s A Bird in the Hand cookbook. I used Zims Tribe extra hot chilli marinade to make this easy West African chicken marinade recipe to be served with wild rice or salad.

Where can I eat it? Zoe’s Ghana kitchen in Brixton has been around since 2010, Zoe believes “we are on the cusp of an African food revolution”, I agree!  Zoe has a cookbook out this year, available from Amazon full of contemporary African dishes. And Ikoyi as mentioned earlier.


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