Togolese Cuisine

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Togo - Cooking and Food

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Overview of Togolese Cuisine History

Togo is located in West Africa and it borders Ghana to the west, Benin to the east, Burkina Faso to the north and in the south the country has a short opening to the Gulf of Guinea. Togo was a German colony from the late 1884s and until the end of World War I, when it was split between the English and the French. The French Togo and the English Togo gained their independence and merged in 1960 to form The Togolese Republic. Although Togolese cuisine presents many European elements, the staple foods in Togo remained traditional. They include maize, cassava, yam, rice, plantains, beans and millet. The most widely eaten food is maize, while rice consumption is quite low. The most important source of protein for most inhabitants is fish, while bush meat is also often consumed. The most well-liked bush meat is the giant rat. Bush rats are locally known as grasscuters or agouti. Another very popular food in Togo is fufu. Due to the fact that Togo is blessed with fertile soil, a large variety of vegetables and fruits are grown there.

Cuisines of Togo

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Map of Togo- Click to enlarge

Togolese cuisine has been influenced by the country’s colonial legacy and that made Togolese cuisine renowned throughout the West Africa. Togolese cuisine is a combination of African and French culinary styles, combining rice’s, sauces, fish, meat and vegetables in order to serve traditional dishes, like koklo meme, grilled Chicken with a spicy chili sauce, pâté, made from millet, plantains, corn or manioc, riz sauce d’arachide, simply rice with Peanut sauce, and other sauces based on Eggplant, tomato, fish or spinach. Typical in all Africa, palm wine and beer are also common in Togo. One of the most common foods in Togo is fufu and its preparation is a communal ritual. Fufu is eaten with sauces, which are usually made of vegetables like okra, ademe and spinach. Sauces can also be made of meat, mostly with smoked fish and they are served at almost every meal. Other meats eaten in Togo include fish heads, cow’s skins and large bush rats. Groundnuts, palm nuts and cassava are milled into flour and shaped into a pate called kokonte. Pates are also served with sauces. Generally Togolese cuisine is rich on sauces and pates.

Preparation Methods for Togolese Cooking

Togolese 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 Togolese cooking, we should point out that attention to detail is important in the Togolese 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 Togo 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 Togo’s regions. Meat is one of the main elements of most Togolese dishes and cured and smoked hams are often parts of delicious dishes.

Special Equipment for Togolese Cooking

Ranging from cake pans, can openers, colanders, egg rings, poachers and holders, food dishers and portioners, food pans and food containers to other kitchen utensils, such as food scales, food scoops and fryer baskets and accessories, the Togolese cuisine needs a diverse cooking equipment set in order to produce the most sophisticated Togolese 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 Togolese food: juicers, kitchen knives, kitchen slicers, kitchen thermometers, measuring cups and measuring spoons, miscellaneous utensils, mixing bowls and skimmers and strainers. Essential utensils like serving spoons, spatulas, forks, turners, scrapers and tongs should also be part of your cooking "arsenal".

Togolese Food Traditions and Festivals

There are numerous holidays and festivals held in Togo. National holidays include: Independence Day ( April 27), Liberation Day ( January 13), Economic Liberation Day ( January 24), Martyrs of Pya ( June 21), New Year’s Day, Victory Day( April 24), Labor Day( May 1), Ascension Day, Assumption Day, All Saints’ Day, Christmas, Id al- Firt and Tabaski. On national holidays and festivals people in Togo serve their traditional dishes many based on maize and fufu. Many other dishes served on national festivals and celebrations include: Ashanti Chicken, Kedjenou and Poulet Yasa.

People into Togolese Food

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There are many chefs who creatively use the basic ingredients and cooking method for traditional Togolese dishes and create original and delicious food variations. Togolese 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, Togolese chefs take pride in what they do, and this is readily noticeable in the unforgettable taste of their cooking.