Three African Christmas recipes

Posted by Kati Auld on 6 December 2012

Bored of green beans yet? Here are three delicious vegetable side-dishes from around Africa that are begging to join your Christmas feast.


Tikil Gomen (Ethiopia)

This simple dish has a lot more flavour than its Western cousin, braised cabbage.

You’ll need:

  • ¼ cup of oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 Tb crushed garlic
  • 1 tsp ginger, finely diced or crushed
  • 4 carrots, sliced
  • 5 potatoes, peeled and diced into 1-inch cubes
  • ½ head of cabbage, shredded
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • Salt to taste


Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until opaque (about 4 minutes), then add garlic, ginger, and spices. Fry for a minute or two until fragrant, and then add the carrots and cabbage. After 15-20 minutes, add the potato. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and cook until soft (about 30 minutes). If food is sticking to the bottom of the pot, either lower the heat further or add a few tablespoons of water.

*Note: some recipes call for frying the potatoes separately until brown, and adding them later. Choose whatever options suits you best.


Muriwo neDovi (Zimbabwe)

Muriwo neDovi

Peanut butter with vegetables may sound like a very strange combination, but give it a try! It’s not unlike creamed spinach: smooth and tasty. Usually served with sadza (pap) or rice, it’s a delightfully messy affair if eaten with your hands.

You’ll need:

  • ¼ cup of oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 tsp garlic
  • 500 grams of spinach*
  • 5-8 Tb of peanut butter
  • 1 Tb tomato paste
  • 1 can of chopped tomatoes (or about 6 large tomatoes, chopped)
  • Salt and pepper to taste


Heat the oil in a pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook until transparent, about five minutes. Add the garlic and cook for two minutes or until fragrant. Add the tomato paste and stir well, followed by the chopped tomato and spinach (you might have to add the spinach in batches, waiting for each batch to wilt before adding more). Peanut butter is added last: it is better to do this gradually, tasting often, to ensure that you acquire the flavour you prefer. Season with salt and pepper.

*The original dish is made with kale: if that’s unavailable, spinach is an acceptable substitute.


Jollof rice (West Africa)

This delicious tomato rice stew is a staple in many West African countries, with competing accounts of its origin in Ghana, Nigeria or Senegal. Though it’s not traditionally a Christmas food, the green peas studded in tomato rice can lend some bright seasonal colour to your table. Feel free to improvise based on the ingredients and spices you have to hand. Chicken or fish may also be added.

You will need:

  • 5 TB of oil
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 tsp garlic
  • 1 tsp ginger, peeled and grated
  • 1 stock cube
  • 3 cups of rice (long- or medium-grain)
  • 2 carrots, sliced
  • ½ cup peas (frozen is fine)
  • 1 can of tomato puree


Heat the oil in a pot and cook the onion until transparent, about five minutes. Then add the garlic, ginger and spices. Lower temperature to medium-low, and cook for about three minutes or until fragrant, stirring frequently. Then add the tomato puree, bay leaves, stock cube and 3 cups of hot water. Let this simmer until it has reduced slightly (about 30 minutes) and then add the rice and sliced carrots. If using fresh peas, add now; if frozen, add in about 15 minutes.

Cover the rice and let simmer on a very low heat. Try not to stir too often, as it may become mushy. After 35 minutes, take it off the heat and check for doneness: if it’s not yet cooked to your liking, add another ¼ cup of hot water, cover the pot with tin foil, and let it steam for 5-8 minutes.

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