Roasting refers to cooking food over an open fire, without water. The fire may be an open wood fireplace or a hearth, or a charcoal burner. Foods that are often roasted in Africa include meat, fish, tubers such as sweet potatoes, arrow roots, Irish potatoes and cassava, as well as some types of banana.
Boiling refers to cooking food with water, without oil. Frequently, an earthen ware cooking pot may be used. Cooking utensils made of metal or other materials are also gaining in popularity.
Foods that are boiled include vegetables, pulses such as peas and beans, tubers such as potatoes and cassava, and grains such as rice. In northern Uganda, odii – groundnut paste, is added to the boiled dish as a sauce.
In southern Uganda, steaming is an important method of food preparation. Cooking bananas – matoke – are steamed inside banana leaves, over a pot full of boiling water. Fish, meat and vegetables are also wrapped in banana leaves and steamed.
Steaming is a recommended cooking method because it is said to better preserve the nutritive value of foods.
4. Immigrant populations to Africa have brought with them their own ways of preparing food, such as frying food. Frying food was traditionally uncommon to African cuisine, but has now been adopted by almost everyone. Frying refers to cooking food with cooking oil, as well as the possible addition of onions and tomatoes.
It is now common to fry all types of foodstuffs: meat, fish, pulses, vegetables and pastries.
While baking is slowly making inroads into African cuisine, it is still very much a new cooking method, not yet very widespread except in bakeries. Baking is certainly not yet as widespread as in western societies, where not just bread and cakes are baked, but also pies, pastries, melted cheese dishes and other foods.
The food preparation methods in Africa demonstrate the changing face of African cuisine, with adopted cooking methods such as frying now playing a major role in African cooking.
Traditional methods of food preparation such as boiling and steaming were fat-free, and therefore also a lot healthier.
They will continue to play a vital role because many foodstuffs found on the continent are best prepared in this way. For example, dried foodstuffs almost always have to be boiled first.
However, new cooking methods also open up a wider variety of taste and cooking experiences.