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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 exhibits the actions of individuals and the introduction of recent substances, cooking strategies, and recipes. Generally these cuisines are impoverished–consider the globalization of delicacies and quick meals–however typically 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 end in distinctive dishes which can be consubstantial with the historical past of those elements of the world.

On a private degree, the way in which we eat says lots about who we’re, the place we come from, and all the individuals who got here earlier than us.

And, lastly, cooking creates historical past as a result of it brings individuals collectively. It creates bridges between individuals by way of commonality. Actually, it’s typically the primary introduction now we have to a different tradition.


How do you educate individuals in regards to 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 id 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 absolutely 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 wish to know and recognize them higher. I hope to encourage others to see meals for what it’s: a sacred gas for our our bodies and a central part of our id.


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

Africa is a large 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 consists of recipes from Ivory Coast, Senegal, Mali, South Africa, Ghana, Kenya, and plenty of different international locations! It’s, in fact, extra of an initiation or, as I wish to say, an invite to find these wealthy African culinary cultures. Through the writing of the e-book, I had the pleasure of exchanging recipes with many individuals from completely different African international locations, and so they entrusted me with recipes from their international locations of origin.

As well as, among the recipes in my cookbook are my very own creations, the results of my travels and my experiments, comparable to Cassava Tabbouleh with radishes and Herbs and Pink Cabbage Salad with Mango and Uncooked Okra. My e-book can also be full of non-public anecdotes, cooking suggestions, and household cooking secrets and techniques.


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

Typically, fruit and veggies are seen as boring aspect dishes. We have to reverse this narrative and actually put them again on the middle of the plate. I consider this essentially includes training. We now have to make individuals conscious of the necessity to eat a nutrient-dense weight-reduction plan for good well being. I’m additionally satisfied that it includes kindness and curiosity. Typically, 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 some extent of honor to make use of substances which can be accessible in every single place and by practically everybody. Then I attempt to present that with just a few spices, it’s attainable to completely rework on a regular basis meals and provides them a brand new dimension. For instance, the subsequent time you prepare dinner carrots, why not strive roasting them as an alternative of boiling them? And have enjoyable with flavors! Strive citrus zest, cumin, sumac, cardamom, ginger, or smoked paprika. Open up the sector of prospects.


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 individuals deal with themselves to enhance their Buyer Expertise. Along with this, I run workshops and cooking courses.

I’m additionally often a chef for people and corporations 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 strategy 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 very fashionable in sub-Saharan Africa, notably in South and Central Africa. Any leafy inexperienced will do—comparable to taro, cassava, sorrel, or candy potato leaves—however right here I opted for spinach leaves since they’re simple to search out in most elements 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) contemporary spinach
1 tablespoon curry
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
2 teaspoons garlic powder
Black pepper (to style)
4 agency plantains, peeled and minimize into massive chunks


  1. Warmth a big pan over medium warmth. Add the water and onion, and prepare dinner till the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. 
  2. Add the tomatoes, and prepare dinner for about 5 extra minutes, stirring usually.
  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). Deliver to a simmer, cowl, and prepare dinner, stirring often, 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 produce 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 minimize midway by way of every bit. Place in a steamer, and steam till simply pierced with a fork, about 10 minutes.

You will discover Chef Marie Kacouchia on Instagram @thespicysoul

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