Photos: Moroccan girls by M. Osmenda, Bhutanese girl by C. Michel, & children in Ghana by K. McCormick.
The heart of African cooking…
I’m so excited about today… because today we’re diving into the heart of African cooking. I’ll be sharing four burger creations inspired by four distinct regions of Africa.
It’s not all the same…
Next time someone tells you all African food tastes the same (or that they know nothing about African cooking), send them here. I know firsthand how much they’re missing. You see, when I first began cooking the world, I could fill a thimble with what I knew about African cooking. But there is enormous flavor, history, and creativity in Africa.
Consider these four African-inspired burgers a teaser. Once your appetite is whetted, go on to the hundreds of recipes for each of the 54 countries in Africa that my family tried when we cooked our way around the world.
Let this celebration of Africa’s culinary diversity be a reminder: Africa is not a country.
The North African | Tagine Burger
Inspired by the sweet and savory tagines of Morocco (specifically our Lamb Tagine with Honeyed Figs), I developed this recipe for a juicy lamb burger moistened with grated red onion and seasoned with garlic, ginger, and cinnamon.
Oh, but … the topping!
It’s simple but completely irresistible: fig jam simmered with orange blossom water (!!) and saffron. The flavor is altogether haunting.
We could not stop eating it. In-credible.
How to make the Tagine Burger:
Mix 1 lb ground lamb with: 1 small red onion (grated & excess liquid drained off), 1 large clove garlic (crushed), 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger, 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper, 3/4 teaspoon salt. Shape into patties and cook on a well-oiled grill over medium heat until done (flipping once). Serve on a toasted bun with grilled red onions and fig topping.
For the fig topping: Warm 1/4 cup fig jam with a pinch of crushed saffron until simmering. Remove from heat and add 1/4 teaspoon orange blossom water. Cool to thicken and spread on toasted bun.
The West African | Spicy Chicken Burger
The primary flavors of West Africa include red palm oil (a very bold oil found in just about everything! You can buy it at some health food stores and African markets), hot peppers, ginger and garlic. When combined with ground chicken and served on a bun with sliced, grilled peppers, the result is a West african-inspired delight. This particular recipe is inspired by our Togolese Global Table.
How to make the Spicy Chicken Burger:
Combine 1 lb ground chicken with 1 tsp ground ginger, 2 cloves garlic (crushed), 1 teaspoon red palm oil, 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (for medium heat!), 3/4 teaspoon salt, and 2 tbsp bread crumbs to bind. The mixture will be sticky. Shape with clean, wet hands to keep from sticking to skin. Cook on a well-oiled grill over medium heat until done, flipping once. Serve on a toasted bun with grilled peppers and green leaf lettuce.
The Southern African | The Bobotie Burger
Here’s a burger that packs a punch! The unusual Bobotie Burger, inspired by the South African casserole of the same name, smacks of curry with the fresh brightness of lemon zest, ginger, and garlic.
The topping? Another winner…
A generous spoonful of mango chutney and a leaf or two of lettuce.
How to make the Bobotie Burger:
Combine 1 lb ground beef with 2 teaspoons curry powder, the zest of a lemon, 1 teaspoon ground ginger, 1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. If it sticks, use damp hands to shape. Cook on a well-oiled grill over medium heat until done. Serve on a toasted bun with mango chutney and green leaf lettuce.
The East African | The Berberé Burger
For my East African burger I took inspiration from Ethiopia… and used infused a lamb patty with homemade berberé. This is a lovely spice blend – warm with a dozen different spices (like cinnamon, cardamom, coriander, cumin, fenugreek and more), but easy enough to make on your own in coffee grinder!
The finishing touch?
A handful of fresh spinach leaves for the topping.
How to make the Berberé Burger:
Combine 1 lb ground lamb with a small red onion (grated & excess liquid drained off), 1 teaspoon ground ginger, 2 cloves garlic (crushed), 1-2 teaspoons berberé, and 3/4 teaspoon salt. . Cook on a well-oiled grill over medium heat until done, flipping once.
Serve on a toasted bun with fresh spinach leaves.
What do you think? Did I get your part of the world right? What would you do differently?
In PART 1 we explored burgers inspired by the Americas and Europe…
In PART 3, when we dive into Asian burgers.