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Sierra Leone - Cooking and Food[edit | edit source]

Overview of Sierra Leonean Cuisine History[edit | edit source]

Sierra Leone is an African state with various rivers and cascades, among fields and high platforms. The agricultural plantations are set on wide territories and the most significant products are coffee, rice, cocoa, coconut palms, manioc and citrus fruits. Being representative for the African cuisine, the Sierra Leonean cuisine includes cassava, yams, plantains, bananas, red palm oil, peanuts and other fruits and vegetables. Meat is best represented by fish, which is found in the coastal areas.

The staple of the Sierra Leonean meals is rice, which is mostly combined with light or thick soups, stews or various kinds of meat. The stews often include, besides vegetables, meat (including fish) with a particular spicy flavor, given by the seasonings and numerous greens. There are many plants which are simply cooked, like the fried plantains or the root vegetables, but most of the stews and garnishes are prepared with care for many hours.

Cuisines of Sierra Leone[edit | edit source]

Map of Sierra Leone- Click to enlarge

Sierra Leone is divided into 13 counties, but they have a rather unified cuisine, with variations. in the big cities and on the ocean coast. On the coastal areas, fish is the most consumed meat and it is served with rice – plain or mixtures of rice and veggies. In the South-East of Sierra Leone, the Mende people are focused on rice meals. All through the country, the desserts and sweet meals or drinks include one of the basic agricultural products, the cocoa. In the capital, Freetown, there are many snack bars and restaurants which include European, American and traditional African food. Due to the fact that the capital is found on the Atlantic coast, there is a wide selection of seafood and fish dishes, including the traditional lobster and shrimp. Another cuisine that is found in the capital is the Lebanese.

Preparation Methods for Sierra Leonean Cooking[edit | edit source]

Sierra Leonean cuisine uses elements from various cooking traditions borrowed from their neighbors and developed from their own traditional dishes. While there are no specific or unique preparation methods for Sierra Leonean cooking, we should point out that attention to detail is important in the Sierra Leonean cuisine. Using the right amount of spices for example is essential – either for spicing up the taste or for coloring the dish. The diversity of vegetables and cereals found in Sierra Leone is also noticed in the delicious dishes belonging to their cuisine. The visual attractiveness of the dish is also important, and a balance between colors and proportion differentiates. Each traditional dish has a special cooking method, which is more or less general in all of Sierra Leone’s regions. Meat is one of the main elements of most Sierra Leonean dishes and cured and smoked hams are often parts of delicious dishes.

Special Equipment for Sierra Leonean Cooking[edit | edit source]

Most Sierra Leonean dishes don’t require you to purchase any special tools. However, having a coffee grinder helps with roasting and grinding spices and maximizes their volatile oils, which, in turn, provides your food with more flavor.

Ranging from cake pans, can openers, colanders, egg rings, poachers and holders, food dishes & portioners, food pans & food containers to other kitchen utensils, such as food scales, food scoops and fryer baskets & accessories, the Sierra Leonean cuisine needs a diverse cooking equipment set in order to produce the most sophisticated Sierra Leonean dishes. You should consider insulated food carriers if you are transporting the food and a full set of kitchen linens and uniforms if you wish to look like a pro. Here are a few other items that will come handy while cooking Sierra Leonean food: juicers, kitchen knives, kitchen slicers, kitchen thermometers, measuring cups & measuring spoons, miscellaneous utensils, mixing bowls and skimmers & strainers. Essential utensils like serving spoons, spatulas, forks, turners, scrapers and tongs should also be part of your cooking "arsenal".

Sierra Leonean Food Traditions and Festivals[edit | edit source]

There are more religions in Sierra Leone (Animism, Islamism and Catholicism) and so, the variety of celebrations is wide. The most significant public holidays include Eid al Adha, Prophet`s Birthday, Good Friday to Easter Monday, Independence Day in April and Eid al Fitr. The most common dishes served on these occasions are the Chicken stews with black pepper, lime juice, garlic powder and poultry seasonings, rice garnishes with mixtures of root plants and cassava or fufu and various cakes as desserts, which are specific to all African regions, like the kokeksisters, prepared with flour, eggs, Sugar, cinnamon, mixed spices, butter and yeast fat for frying and the kolombyntjes.

People in Sierra Leonean Food[edit | edit source]

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There are many chefs who creatively use the basic ingredients and cooking method for traditional Sierra Leonean dishes and create original and delicious food variations. Sierra Leonean chefs are passionate about their traditional dishes and they enjoy presenting them to foreigners who have never tasted them before. Whether they are cooking dishes that go back in time for centuries or brand new, modern dishes, Sierra Leonean chefs take pride in what they do, and this is readily noticeable in the unforgettable taste of their cooking.

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