Discover African Cuisines with Chef Marie Kacouchia



In your expertise, how have you ever discovered meals to inform a narrative and form tradition?

Meals is each created by historical past and creates historical past. Cuisines are created by historical past as a result of they combine with invasions and inhabitants actions. It reveals the actions of individuals and the introduction of latest elements, cooking strategies, and recipes. Generally these cuisines are impoverished–consider the globalization of delicacies and quick meals–however usually they arrive out richer. In my e-book Vegan Africa, for instance, I spotlight the Indo-Chinese language affect on the delicacies of East Africa and the Lebanese affect on all of West Africa. These lead to distinctive dishes which might be consubstantial with the historical past of those components of the world.

On a private degree, the best way we eat says loads about who we’re, the place we come from, and the entire individuals who got here earlier than us.

And, lastly, cooking creates historical past as a result of it brings folks collectively. It creates bridges between folks by commonality. In actual fact, it’s usually the primary introduction we’ve got to a different tradition.


How do you educate folks concerning the intersection of meals, historical past, well being, and tradition?

This e-book is the materialization of my private journey. As a younger grownup, I started to query my identification and naturally my relationship with meals was on the middle of this reflection. I made the work of turning into extra intentional about meals as a result of it performs such an enormous half in our lives. I started to ask myself extra systematically: Why am I consuming what I’m consuming? How was this meals produced? By whom? How can I dwell totally with out inflicting struggling on different beings? And, lastly, How can I reclaim my ancestral culinary heritage?

I needed to share the fruit of my analysis to make clear African cuisines and to encourage others to need to know and admire them higher. I hope to encourage others to see meals for what it’s: a sacred gasoline for our our bodies and a central element of our identification.


Please inform us a little bit bit about your cookbook Vegan Africa. What nations and cultures are highlighted in it?

Africa is a big continent and the culinary cultures are very various. With my e-book, I humbly needed to symbolize the entire continent, from North to South and from East to West. Vegan Africa contains recipes from Ivory Coast, Senegal, Mali, South Africa, Ghana, Kenya, and plenty of different nations! It’s, in fact, extra of an initiation or, as I prefer to say, an invite to find these wealthy African culinary cultures. In the course of the writing of the e-book, I had the pleasure of exchanging recipes with many individuals from totally different African nations, and so they entrusted me with recipes from their nations of origin.

As well as, a few of the recipes in my cookbook are my very own creations, the results of my travels and my experiments, corresponding to Cassava Tabbouleh with radishes and Herbs and Pink Cabbage Salad with Mango and Uncooked Okra. My e-book can be full of private anecdotes, cooking ideas, and household cooking secrets and techniques.


As a chef, what do you envision as the best way ahead to encourage folks to incorporate extra fruit and veggies into their diets?

Usually, fruit and veggies are seen as boring facet dishes. We have to reverse this narrative and actually put them again on the middle of the plate. I imagine this essentially includes schooling. We’ve got to make folks conscious of the necessity to eat a nutrient-dense food plan for good well being. I’m additionally satisfied that it includes kindness and curiosity. Usually, individuals are resistant to vary as a result of they’re afraid of fixing their routines. That’s why, in my cooking, I make it a degree of honor to make use of elements which might be accessible in every single place and by almost everybody. Then I attempt to present that with a number of spices, it’s potential to completely rework on a regular basis meals and provides them a brand new dimension. For instance, the subsequent time you cook dinner carrots, why not attempt roasting them as an alternative of boiling them? And have enjoyable with flavors! Attempt citrus zest, cumin, sumac, cardamom, ginger, or smoked paprika. Open up the sphere of potentialities.


Please inform us a little bit bit about your work and profession.

By day, I work within the well being and wellness sector. I assist firms whose mission is to assist folks maintain themselves to enhance their Buyer Expertise. Along with this, I run workshops and cooking lessons.

I’m additionally sometimes a chef for people and firms for very intimate dinners. And on prime of that, one factor I by no means cease doing is creating new recipes that I share on my Instagram account @thespicysoul.

I’ve a really holistic method to well being, and bringing wellness to others is what motivates every little thing I do.


Sautéed Spinach and Mushrooms with Plantains

SERVES 4 ✦ PREP TIME: quarter-hour ✦ COOK TIME: 35 minutes

Dishes made with leafy greens are extremely popular in sub-Saharan Africa, significantly in South and Central Africa. Any leafy inexperienced will do—corresponding to taro, cassava, sorrel, or candy potato leaves—however right here I opted for spinach leaves since they’re simple to seek out in most components of the world.

2 tablespoons water
1 onion, chopped
4 tomatoes, diced
8 ounces (225 g) button mushrooms, chopped
31⁄3 kilos (1.5 kg) recent spinach
1 tablespoon curry
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
2 teaspoons garlic powder
Black pepper (to style)
4 agency plantains, peeled and lower into massive chunks


  1. Warmth a big pan over medium warmth. Add the water and onion, and cook dinner till the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. 
  2. Add the tomatoes, and cook dinner for about 5 extra minutes, stirring often.
  3. Add the mushrooms, and stir to mix. 
  4. Regularly add the spinach, stirring till it wilts.
  5. Stir within the curry, smoked paprika, garlic powder, and black pepper (to style). Convey to a simmer, cowl, and cook dinner, stirring sometimes, till thickened, about 10 minutes. If the combination sticks to the pan, stir in a splash of water.
  6. In the meantime, place the plantains in a big pot, cowl with water, and convey to a boil. Cook dinner till simply pierced with a fork, about quarter-hour.
  7. Serve the spinach and mushrooms together with the plantains.

TIP: The greener the plantains, the much less sugar they’ve. To steam the plantains, make a small lower midway by each bit. Place in a steamer, and steam till simply pierced with a fork, about 10 minutes.

You’ll find Chef Marie Kacouchia on Instagram @thespicysoul

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