I’ve decided this year to switch things from the basic Christmas dishes we usually have. I have gone round Africa and picked my top 10 Christmas dishes. Who knows which ones would end up being on our Christmas table this year? Christmas is my second most favourite holiday of the year. It reminds me of family gatherings, waking up early to start preparing various dishes to entertain the crowd that would be arriving later on in the day to say their Christmas wishes or just to take advantage of the holiday.
Christmas is about the bleating of goats at the backyard and me poking my head out of my bedroom window to watch my uncles find the best way to kill it. It’s about the women of the house gathering in our tiny kitchen and designating tasks to make the cooking easier. I remember being the one who usually got the shredding of the ingredients for the coleslaw/salad.
Anyway, with all that stress and sweat, it was all so worth it when we finally sat down to eat. It was so amazing how preparing meals took so much time and it all got downed within minutes.
1. Lamb Tagine, Morocco
A tagine is a slow cooking stew, named after the pot, the tagine or tajine, which is a North African national dish. It is usually made just with vegetables or a wide variety of poultry. I have decided on the Moroccan made lamb tagine because of the burst of flavours from the spices that are added to it.
Have this dish with couscous or potatoes, anyway it’s a classic you can serve up this Christmas.
2. Mombasa Pumpkin Pudding, Kenya
A steamed pumpkin pudding dessert with loads of sugar, coconut milk and cardamom. If you ARE looking to add some pounds during the holiday, this is the perfect treat for you. If not, best you stay away. What I love is its thick consistency and who says no to pumpkin pudding?
3. Octopus Curry, Zanzibar
If you are an epicurean and you want to enjoy a different sort of taste this Christmas, you can try take on one of Zanzibar’s best of street dishes, the Octopus curry. Eaten on its own or with a side salad, it takes you to calm waters, white sands and… Hurry up Christmas!
4. Jollof Rice, West Africa
There are many versions and twists to the Jollof as it is known in most West African countries or Benachin in its originating country Senegal. However you make it, this is definitely a dish to make its way to your Christmas table.
To spice it up, add a side dish of fried plantains or coleslaw and do not for whatever reason leave out the fried chicken and turkey.
5. Kapenta with Sadza, Zimbabwe
Kapenta is a dish made with two freshwater fishes native to Lake Tanganyika and can be eaten fresh or dried in a sauce of tomatoes, onions and vegetables. It is usually served with Sadza, which is a maize porridge dish. I know you’d like to be civil at the Christmas table but it is actually tastier to have Kapenta with Sadza with your hands.
6. Mandazi, East Africa
We all love our in between snacks during meals and Mandazi is a great one. Similar to doughnuts but with more spice and no frost, it’s one of those bites you can get away with this Christmas without caring much about the calories (that is if you decide not to go with the chocolate dips). Native to the Swahili tribe of East Africa, this is a great on the goal dish to make.
7. Sosatie, South Africa
Because we are Africans and because we love meat! Sosaties are simply meat cooked on skewers. The meat is usually marinated for a whole day to get in all the flavour. Can be used as a snack or as part of your main meal. Anyway you do it works best for your taste buds.
8. Chin Chin, West Africa
We are all about snacks during the Yuletide season. It is the period we think not too much about the pounds added and we add to our plates whatever is on the Christmas table. Chin chin is a Nigerian favourite. It is what you serve guests pre the main deal or just comfort eating while watching T.V. This is a must have this Christmas.
9. Sorrel Drink, Everywhere
What’s a party without drinks? Most of our African drinks are usually fruit based but once in awhile we can go for something different – like Sorrel, which are hibiscus leaves and when boiled produce a wonderful, soothing drink.
To spice it up you can drop in fruits like pineapples or if you want a more tangy taste, ginger. Beware though, it is a bit nasty without adding sugar or honey.
10. Chapman, Nigeria
There is usually no party, no hangout, no get together in Nigeria without the famous chapman. It is a mix of hibiscus tea, fizzy drinks and angostura bitters. To ensure you enjoy it best, add a heap of ice cubes, slices of fruit and cucumber. It is simply delicious.
Merry Christmas everyone!!