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Africana by Lerato Umah-Shaylor

Posted by Nigella on the 5th October 2023
Image of Lerato Umah-Shaylor's Mothered Oxtail Stew
Photo by Tara Fisher

There are too many cookbooks coming out at the same time for me to mention them all on the date they come out, and although that often means they’re a week or two late, sometimes books slip through the net, and I find I have missed something out that I really want to bring to your attention no matter how late I am. This is the case with this week’s CookbookCorner. Had I written about Africana a year ago, I would still have missed its publication date, and for that I apologise, but I am very glad to be telling you about it now.

It is a glorious book: an education and an invitation. There is such life in its pages, and such food! Lerato has a particular gift for getting to the heart of each recipe, both in terms of where it comes from, how it’s travelled, and how it can find a place in your own kitchen, your own life. “While I encourage you to follow my recipes, especially as they will be new territory for most of you,” she writes in her introduction, “I urge you to consider dipping your toes into the camp of the intuitive cook. There is room to make each dish your own — with a dash of lime here, a handful of scented leaves there — that is how I was taught to cook.”

Drawn from the whole continent, some traditional, the recipes share one thing — they all make one want to rush greedily into the kitchen: Juicy Berbere Meatballs in Tomato Sauce; Nigerian Meat Pies; Crispy Coconut Squid and Prawns; Plantain Shakshuka; Roasted Chicken in Stew; Cape Malay Chicken Curry; Fish in Sesame Sauce; Roasted Pepper Salad; Medina Bread; Saffron Potatoes and Peas; Spiced Butter Lentils; Hibiscus Chocolate Orange Cake; Honeycomb Pancakes; Christmas Pudding Puff Puffs. I could go on (and on and on)!

Spoilt for choice in deciding what to share with you today, I dithered most deliciously, enjoying every moment. And with gratitude and a glad heart, I bring you now her gorgeous Mothered Oxtail Stew.

Africana: Treasured recipes and stories from across the continent by Lerato Umah-Shaylor (HQ, HarperCollins).
Photo by Tara Fisher.

Try this recipe from the book

Image of Lerato Umah-Shaylor's Mothered Oxtail Stew
Photo by Tara Fisher
Mothered Oxtail Stew with Scotch Bonnet & Pimento
By Lerato Umah-Shaylor
  • 14
  • 2
Feta, Black Bean and Clementine Couscous