With her colorful cookbook, Saka Saka: Adventures in African Cuisine, South of the SaharaAline Princet doesn’t just want to teach people how to make African food.
“My intention in writing this book is to use Pan-African cuisine to send a strong, powerful and positive message,” writes the photographer in the book’s intro. “For several years, Western society has shown a growing interest in African culture, driven in particular by the rise of the ‘Afro’ culture. This can be seen through the rise of contemporary art exhibitions, literature, fashion and decoration (think shiny wax-printed fabrics), films (including Black Panther2018’s Marvel blockbuster) and more African musicians in the limelight – a new black power, so to speak, that transcends all borders.
“So why is African culture so lacking in the culinary field, compared to the intercontinental gastronomic explosion of recent years? Food is also a key part of “Afro” culture, but the rich culinary heritage of the continent is, in my opinion, underappreciated. »
The book presents 80 recipes from Gabon, Senegal, Ivory Coast, Cameroon, Congo and Ethiopia, including information on regional specialties and the main characteristics of these cuisines, as well as foods from basis and products. Alongside Princet, Anto Cocagne is a Gabonese chef based in Paris, artistic director of African cuisine magazine, president of the We Eat Africa gastronomic festival and star of the television series Rendez-vous Avec Le Chef Anto. She also aims to popularize African cuisine.
The duo recruited African musicians, writers and artists to tell stories about their favorite dishes – both their memories and what those recipes mean to them now. French-Cameroonian artist Fred Ebami – whom the book describes as one of the only known pop artists of African descent in the world – chose the banana fritters.
This easy-to-make West and Central African street-food delicacy can be eaten as a sweet snack sprinkled with icing sugar, drizzled with melted chocolate or vanilla ice cream. “Or as a savory snack with a spicy sauce,” says Cocagne. “You can use regular overripe bananas as well as overripe plantains.”
She says if you don’t have a deep fryer, use a deep pan with a heavy bottom instead. “It’s important to keep the oil between 170°C and 180°C so the donuts don’t absorb too much oil.”
Makes 25-30 donuts
Preparation time: 20 minutes (plus 1 hour rest)
Cooking time: 30 minutes
6 very ripe bananas
60 g plain flour (all purpose)
60 g fine cornmeal
1 pinch of salt
¼ cup lukewarm milk
6 g of baker’s yeast
Icing sugar or melted chocolate (optional)
Peel and cut the bananas into pieces. Put them in a bowl and mash them with a fork or rolling pin. Add flour, cornmeal and salt, and mix until combined.
Combine warm milk and yeast in a bowl. Stir the yeast mixture into the banana mixture. Cover the bowl and let the dough ferment in a warm place for 1 hour.
Knead the dough to eliminate the gas formed by the yeast.
In a fryer, heat the oil to 170-180°C. Using a spoon, form balls of dough and place them in the hot oil. Cook until everything is golden. Drain the donuts on paper towel.
Serve the donuts hot, sprinkled with icing sugar or drizzled with melted chocolate.
This is an excerpt from Saka Saka by Anto Cocagne and Aline Princet, photography by Aline Princet. Murdoch Books $45. Buy it here.
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