Culinary Journey Through East Africa’s Penchant For Indian Food
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East Africa is a region of incredible diversity and culture, and its cuisine is no exception. From traditional Ethiopian stews to the fiery curries of Tanzania, East African cuisine is a flavorful, aromatic blend of cultures, spices, and herbs. One of the most beloved cuisines in East Africa is Indian food.

In this article, we'll explore the history, traditional dishes, and fusion cuisine of East African Indian food and learn how to prepare a few popular dishes at home. So, let's take a culinary journey through East Africa and discover the deliciousness of Indian food!

Introduction to Indian Food in East Africa

East African Indian cuisine is the food and cooking styles of Indian-born people who live in East Africa, especially in Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda. This cuisine is influenced by the culinary traditions of India as well as local East African ingredients and cooking techniques. Locals and tourists alike enjoy the flavorful, aromatic Indian food dishes, which range from Indian-influenced curries to traditional Indian desserts.

In East Africa, Indian food falls under what is often referred to as "Swahili food" due to its widespread presence in the Swahili culture. From fragrant curries to creamy coconut-milk-based dishes, Swahili cuisine is a vibrant mix of flavors and textures.

The History of Indian Food in East Africa

The history of Indian food in East Africa goes back centuries. In some way, the Portuguese, the Arabs, and the British, all powerful seafaring nations at the time, left their mark on Swahili cuisine. Swahili cuisine has been most influenced by Arabic and Indian cuisine, the latter coming from immigrants and traders who landed on the coast. Indian traders and settlers brought their cuisine to East Africa during the colonial era, and Indian culture has ever since influenced the region.

East African-Indian Fusion Cuisine

Eastern African cuisine is known for its robust flavor, which is achieved through the use of many different spices. The robust flavor of the food is achieved in large part thanks to the use of black pepper and cinnamon.

People who prefer their food to be (typically) fiery and flavorful often gravitate toward the wide variety of dishes that can be found in both East Africa and India.

Popular East African Indian Dishes

Both locals and visitors alike adore a variety of popular East African Indian dishes. Some of the most popular dishes include:

1.    Pilau, which is a fragrant rice dish cooked with spices and served with a variety of accompaniments,

2.    Chicken biryani, which is made by layering cooked rice with spices, chicken, and vegetables and then baking it until the flavors meld together,

3.    Kachumbari, which is a salad made with tomatoes, onions, and chili peppers; and pilau

4.    Aloo Gobi, another popular dish, is made with potatoes and cauliflower and seasoned with spices such as cumin, coriander, and turmeric.

5.    Palak paneer: This delicacy uses paneer (Indian cheese) and spinach and is seasoned with a variety of spices, such as cumin, coriander, and garam masala.

6.    Kachori, Samosa: Kachori is a deep-fried pastry filled with a mixture of spices and lentils. It is often served as a snack or appetizer. Samosas are fried triangular pastries filled with a savory and spicy mixture of potato and meat.

7.    Chicken in a coconut sauce is known as Zanzibar Kuku Paka. Ingredients like turmeric powder, black pepper, green chilies, and coriander give this curry its distinctive flavor. You can eat this curry with rice or flat bread. Some people even like it better with French bread than on its own, so there's that.

8.    Sheekh kebabs are skewered sausages made from spiced ground meat, and the distinctive smokey flavor of these is best brought out by grilling over a coal fire. Ground beef, lamb, or mutton is commonly used to make these kebabs, which are usually served as a starter or a light snack.

9.    Grilled chicken that has been marinated in a spicy pepper sauce is known as "Cayenne Piri Piri Chicken." The marinade is largely responsible for this dish's distinctive flavor. Cayenne pepper, black pepper, paprika, cumin, vinegar, and ginger are frequently used spices.

10.    In addition to these dishes, East African Indian cuisine also features a variety of desserts, such as Gulab jamun, which are deep-fried balls of dough soaked in sugar syrup, and kheer, which is a creamy pudding made with rice, milk, and spices.

Whether you're exploring the restaurants of East Africa, attending a food event, or cooking at home, this cuisine is sure to tantalize your taste buds. Will Afro-Indian foodbecome a thing in the future? It’s one of the ‘frontiers’ that’s yet to be cracked, and could make for an exciting direction for fusion cuisine.