4 Staple African Pantry Ingredients to Elevate Your Plant-Based Cooking


If you’re looking to expand your culinary repertoire, there are a host of African grains and grasses that will afford your cooking added protein, texture and flavor. Although particularly beneficial for plant-based diets, they are a terrific supplement for all, and they can easily be sourced online.

Coming from the Horn of Africa, teff is a gluten-free ingredient that can be used in foods for coeliacs. It looks a little like a combination of flax and poppy seeds and is widely used in Ethiopian cuisine. An easy-to-cook millet, fonio, is considered West Africa’s oldest cultivated cereal and has to be processed by hand, making it, so far, unexploited by commercial sellers.

Part of the sesame seed family, benne is from West Africa, where it was grown in gardens as an easy additive to other foods, especially when meat was scarce. Grown mainly in sub-Saharan Africa, bambara groundnuts are a high-resistance, good yield crop, classified as a legume.

It is socioeconomically significant, being almost as popular and widely grown as peanuts and cowpeas.

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