Do you want to cook delicious authentic African meals at home anytime you get the craving? We’ll let you in on a little secret: the ancient tools traditional African cooks use are often the key to the magical taste that strangers to traditional African cooking try so unsuccessfully to reproduce! For many Africans, nothing compares to the age-old kitchen tools that centuries of African mothers have relied on to bring joy and nourishment to their loved ones. If you want to have an authentic African cooking experience, you need to add these three ‘time-honoured’ African cooking tools to your shopping list pronto! A great perk is that the tools are easy to clean and there’s no electricity required.
Mortar and Pestle
The Mortar and Pestle is an essential and highly-respected ancient tool prevalent in most modern African Kitchens. It is a must-have for any African cooking aficionado. Africans use this tool to pound, pulverize and grind loads of spices, leaves and grains. This two-part grinder can be used to crush whole grains like rice or maize into a fine powder. In West Africa, it is commonly used to pound cooked yams into the classic “pounded yam” dish. The pestle, a long wooden pole is worked into the mortar, a big round wooden pot, to loosen the shell and hard layers around each grain, as well as to reduce cooked slices of yam, into a solid paste. Traditionally, the mortar and pestle must be thoroughly cleaned after each use, set aside to rest with the mortar placed upside down while the pestle stands apart. Though a food processor can achieve much the same results, many Africans believe that there is a vast difference in the taste. Cooking is more personal when you crush food items into fine pastes and powders with your own hands. People sense the love and effort you put into the preparation process, and it elevates the experience for everyone.
Flat Turning Stick (Omorogun)
This flat spoon-like utensil is used when turning starches into pastes in African cooking. Traditionally known as “Omorogun” amongst the Yorubas, the long, cylindrical, (sometimes flat) wooden turners are used to prepare “Swallows”; a variety of hand-eaten meals made from ingredients such as yam flour, wheat flour, oat flour, cassava flakes amongst others. The wooden turner is used to roll and mix these “swallows” on the heat until the right consistency is achieved. It is also used to thoroughly mix the batter for “Akara”, a traditional bean-cake meal deep-fried in vegetable oil and often eaten with pap, porridge or custard in many African homes. No matter how modern an African kitchen is, the ancient wooden turner is indispensable.
The Traditional Scoop (Igbako)
Although you will find modern plastic-made variations of the traditional scoop in some modern kitchens, many African families still cannot dispense with the ancient one made from wood or broken calabash. The traditional scoop, known as “Igbako” in Yoruba, is used to ladle hot, steamy, solid meals (swallows) onto a plate to give it a smooth, fine-textured, appealing look. African cooks use the traditional scoop to ladle ‘swallows’ like fufu and pounded yam onto the dishes, bringing out a fine, round-shaped look that is pleasing to the eye.