Flavors of Africa: Discover Authentic Family Recipes from All Over the Continent, written by Evi Aki, features an incredible collection of 71 traditional Nigerian family recipes and favorites from throughout Africa. A few highlights include Calulu de Peixe (Angolan Fish Stew), Nigerian Salad, Kota (Bunny Chow), Mandazi (Kenyan Doughnuts), Zanzibar Pizza, and Maaquoda (Potato Fritters). I will also be sharing her recipe for Chin Chin (Fried Dough Snacks) following the review!
Disclosure: I received this book from Page Street Publishing in exchange for my honest review. All opinions and statements are my own. This post contains Amazon affiliate links. If you purchase something through the link, I may receive a small commission at no extra charge to you.
Evi Aki was born in Chicago, grew up in Atlanta, and currently lives in Los Angeles. She started Ev’s Eats in 2015 as a way to share her old family favorites with an emphasis on easy African and Caribbean recipes. She is also a travel contributor for The Daily Meal and her work has been featured on MSN.com, BuzzFeed, Brit + Co, Yahoo, Kontrol Magazine, and Cowgirl Magazine. This is Evi’s first cookbook.
Flavors of Africa
The chapters are divided based on region: Western Africa, Eastern Africa, Northern Africa, and Southern Africa. The table of contents also includes a list of the recipes in each chapter with page number for easy reference.
Evi begins with an introduction of her own history growing up surrounded by Nigerian and other African dishes during family gatherings and how this has sparked her love of food. For those unfamiliar with African cooking, each chapter has an overview of how the regional cuisine has been shaped with notable influences and flavors. Following the recipes, there is a helpful pantry guide for popular ingredients with descriptions, uses, and where to find them.
The photography is provided by Jakob Layman. Every single recipe is accompanied by a full-page photo of the finished dish. Measurements are listed in US Customary and Metric. Titles are written in the original language when applicable with the English translation underneath. Each dish includes a headnote with background information, personal stories, notable ingredients, helpful tips, and serving size.
This book is a great pick for those looking for a variety of African recipes from all over the continent. With home cooks in mind, many of the dishes come together easily or only have a handful of steps. There is a nice variety of bread, meats, fish, vegetarian, snacks, desserts, and drinks. Most of the recipes use items readily available in the average American grocery store. Having a market with African ingredients will be helpful in locating items such as Nigerian red pepper, ground crayfish, Scotch bonnet chiles, bitter leaf, egusi melon seeds, yam powder, banana leaves, tigernuts, cardamom pods, jaggery, gram flour, and teff flour.
Chin Chin (Fried Dough Snacks)
I’ve seen recipes for Chin Chin (Fried Dough Snacks) before, but this was my first time finally trying them! I can’t believe I waited so long. I was immediately hooked from the first piece of this sweet and crunchy treat. For Evi’s version, an easy dough comes together with flour, baking powder, sugar, margarine, milk, and a little African nutmeg (ehuru) for spice. The mixture is kneaded until smooth and stretchy, rolled into a thin sheet, and cut into small squares. The little squares are then fried in batches in hot oil until puffed, golden, and crisp.
Evi states the Chin Chin can be stored in an airtight container for up to a month. Make sure they cool completely to room temperature before storing. Between Claire and I taking small handfuls pretty much every time we walked through the kitchen, our batch ran out in about 2 days.
I have a hard time cutting straight lines, so I cheated a bit and used an adjustable wheel cutter to measure and cut out the Chin Chin squares.
Ehuru (African nutmeg) comes from the West African calabash nutmeg tree. According to Evi, it “is often used to flavor soups, stews, cakes and desserts. The taste is very similar to nutmeg. You can find ehuru online.”
I also made Pilau (Kenyan Spiced Rice), Kachumbari (East African Salsa), Summertime Mango Lemonade, and One-Pot North African Chicken and Rice.
The Pilau comes from the Eastern Africa chapter. This Kenyan spiced rice is packed with flavor thanks to the onion, garlic, ginger, paprika, cumin, cardamom, curry powder, tomatoes, potatoes, AND star anise. It was absolutely incredible paired with the Kachumbari.
I made the Kachumbari to go along with the Pilau. This East African salsa is a light and refreshing way to use up summer produce. Diced tomatoes, red onion, jalapeños, cucumbers, and cilantro are tossed in lime juice and lightly seasoned for a quick and easy side.
I was apparently really drawn to the Eastern Africa section. The Summertime Mango Lemonade also comes from this chapter. Inspired by her grandparents’ visits during the summer, Evi’s lemonade blends together chopped mango, lemon juice, lime juice, and a simply syrup. I especially enjoyed the optional addition of moscato.
As the name states, the North African Chicken and Rice comes together all in one pot! Bone-in chicken thighs are marinated overnight in a mixture of fresh lemon juice and plenty of spices. After browning the chicken on both sides, the onion and spices are sautéed, the rest of the ingredients are added including the browned chicken, stock, and everything bakes until the liquid has been absorbed and everything is cooked through.
Chin Chin (Fried Dough Snacks) Recipe
Excerpt from Flavors of Africa
Chin Chin (Fried Dough Snacks)
- 3 cups (375 grams) all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon African nutmeg ehuru
- 3/4 cup (144 grams) sugar
- 1/2 cup (115 grams) margarine cut into pieces
- 1/3 cup (80 ml) milk
- Vegetable oil as need
- In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, African nutmeg and sugar. Add the margarine a few pieces at a time and begin to combine until the mixture is crumbly.
- Slowly add the milk until the dough becomes stretchy. Note that the dough should not be sticky, so take care not to add too much liquid.
- Transfer the dough to a floured work surface. Roll the dough out to 1/4 inch (6 mm) thick, then knead it into a ball. Divide the ball in half and roll out each half to 1/8 inch (3 mm) thick. Slice the dough into long strips that are 1/4 inch (6 mm) wide. Cut the strips into small squares.
- Heat the oil in a large pot to 375˚F (191˚F). Add the chin chin to the oil and fry for 3 minutes, turning about 1 to 2 minutes in, until they are golden brown and crisp.
- Remove the chin chin from the oil with a slotted spoon and transfer them to a large baking sheet lined with paper towels.
- Store chin chin in an airtight container for up to 1 month.