My African Food Journey

By Mokgadi Itsweng

THE evolution of African food is not complete without the story of slavery and colonisation. These played a major role in importing and exporting ingredients and flavours into African cuisine. Africans soon adapted their traditional foods and recipes to include these new ingredients.

My African food journey starts with central and South Africa, some of the recipes for this journey come from my Foodie Mom Dora Sithole’s book ‘ Cooking from Cape to Cairo’. Mam Dora’s food is easy to make and incredibly delicious. She travelled through the continent tasting and learning to cook popular traditional foods from each region. Her book is beautifully illustrated and tells of an Africa that is flavourful, colourful with lots of beautiful texture. My other guide through the continent is the Congo Cookbook. This online cook book is available on This book like a treasure trove of delicious African recipes, with beautiful stories to match.

I start my palette travels with Angola. The land of Warrior Queen Nzinga, who is best remembered for her resistance against the Portuguese, and setting her people free from slavery.  Here’s more on this African warrior queen The land of sexy Kizomba dance – a dance that mixes Angolan samba and zouk.

The main language spoken here is Portuguese, as the Portuguese did eventually colonise Angola after defeating the Dutch at the beginning of 20th century. Angola gained its independence from Portugal in November 1975, and soon experienced a civil war which ended in 2002, with the death of Jonas Savimbi, who was leader of UNITA. The first democratic elections were held in 2008.

Their national dish is Moamba de galinha-  It is made from chicken cooked in a red palm oil, with onions and hot chilli peppers.


You’ll need:

1chicken, cut into serving-sized pieces

1cup red palm oil

1 onion, chopped

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1  Red chilli, left whole and removed after cooking (for a mild dish), or chopped, seeds removed (for a spicy hot dish)

3 tomatoes (peeled, if desired) and cut into quarters (optional)

1 butternut,  seeded, peeled, and cut into bite-sized pieces  

one cup of canned palm soup base, also called “sauce graine” or homemade moambé or nyembwe sauce,

8 small, tender okra; washed, ends removed — (the okra can be left whole or, for maximum effect, chopped into rondels)

2  salt, to taste


  1. heat oil in a thick based saucepan over high heat
  2. Add the chicken and cook it on all sides until it is slightly browned, but not done.
  3. Add the onion, garlic, chilli pepper, and tomato. Stirring occasionally, cook over medium heat for about half an hour, until the chicken is nearly done.
  4. Add the butternut and cook for an additional ten to fifteen minutes. Then stir in the canned palm soup base and add the okra. Gently simmer for a few minutes until the okra is tender.
  5. Season with salt to taste. Serve with rice
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