Food and culture

The smell or taste of a particular food can instantly transport us back in time, evoking long-forgotten memories of cherished places that tie us to our families and culture.

Indeed, food is an important part of culture. Traditional cuisine is passed down from one generation to the next and cooking traditional food is a way of preserving our culture when we move to new places.

We met with people living in Wigan and Leigh who come from different parts of the world, to find out what their favourite dish from home is and what it means to them.

We’ve also included recipes for these culinary delights so you can give them a go yourself!

CassavaAnita's Cassava recipe for Black History Month

Anita, from Congo, shared her recipe for Cassava.

Cassava is a root vegetable, popular in parts of Africa and South America.

Anita said, "I eat this nearly every day as it reminds me of home. I like it served with rice and dried fish. It’s an everyday meal in Congo, that we eat all together with our families. I miss lots of foods from home, but I do like some English foods.

"I love an English breakfast, especially sausages. The food in Congo is generally more organic and fresh as people grow a lot of their own foods, so it’s easier to be healthy."

Cassava recipe

It's important to carefully peel and cook cassava as the peel can be poisonous.

  • Chop the ends off the vegetable and peel carefully using a sharp knife
  • When the root is peeled, chop it into chunks (a good quality cassava should be white on the inside)
  • Boil for 15 minutes until soft
  • When boiled fry with palm oil, onions, garlic and other vegetables such as aubergine.

Jamaican fried dumplingsTamarra's Jamaican Fried Dumplings recipe for Black History Month

Tamarra, originally from Jamaica, shared her favourite recipe for fried dumplings.

These dumplings make a great meal for breakfast as they taste like a combination of fresh bread and scones.

Tamarra said, "The dumplings are typically a food we would have for Sunday breakfast. I make them when I’m feeling homesick to remind me of home. My favourite British meal is fish and chips."

Jamaican fried dumplings recipe

  • Sift half a cup of flour, 1 tsp baking powder and a pinch of salt together
  • Mix in 30g of butter
  • Add half a cup of water to make a dough
  • Divide dough into 10 balls and knead well for 30 seconds
  • Deep fry or pan fry in a little oil until golden.

Easy peanut butter riceSirvanos' Easy Peanut Butter Rice recipe for Black History Month

Silvanos, from Zimbabwe, shared his recipe for easy peanut butter rice.

If you’re looking for something a little different, and very easy, this peanut butter rice is a great dish to try.

Silvanos said, "The peanut butter makes the rice quite sticky and adds flavour. It would go well with slow cooked goat meat. Rice is expensive in Africa so this would be a meal you might eat at the weekend if family come over, not every day."

Easy peanut butter rice recipe

  • Cook your favourite rice according to package instructions
  • When it is almost cooked, but whilst there is still some water in the pan, add some smooth peanut butter
  • The rice should be a sticky consistency.

SadzaEsnath's Sadza recipe for Black History Month

Esnath, from Zimbabwe, shared her recipe for Sadza.

Esnath is a dance teacher and fashion designer. She loves to make Sadza, a popular dish made from maise meal that has a similar consistency to mashed potatoes.

Esnath said, "This is a staple food in Zimbabwe. It can be eaten with chicken or vegetables, but I like it best with beef. In Zimbabwe, we eat every part of the animal, so I would boil cows feet, including the bones, to get the best flavour and fry it slowly over time with onions and tomato puree and serve this with the Sadza and a vegetable such as spinach.

"This can be a heavy meal, so here we would eat it in the evening as our main meal of the day, but in poorer parts of Zimbabwe it may be eaten earlier to help keep everyone feeling full throughout the day. Foods I miss from home are wild fruits and sugar cane. I miss how fresh and organic everything is in Zimbabwe.

"I do often eat English foods though and my favourite English meal is steak and mushrooms. I also like broccoli."

Sadza recipe

  • Put maize meal into a pot and cover with a little cold water to make a paste
  • Put the pot onto the stove and add some boiling water
  • Bring to the boil and simmer for 10-15 minutes
  • When boiling add more maize meal until you have the amount you need for your meal. The finished consistency should be similar to mashed potatoes.

Nyevhe

Karen, from Zimbabwe, shared her recipe for cooking Nyevhe.

Nyevhe is a green leafy vegetable from Africa that's often dried in the sun so that it can be eaten when not in season. This recipe can also be used with British green, leafy vegetables, such as Kale. It’s normally eaten with an evening meal, perhaps with chicken for a special family dinner.

Karen said, "What’s funny is that when I was in Zimbabwe I didn’t even like Nyevhe! It has a very bitter taste. But my parents always bring it when they visit us here in the UK as dried foods are one of the few foods you can bring through customs. So now I associate the vegetables with them, this dish is a real taste of home."

Nyevhe recipe

  • Pick off the green leaves and wash them
  • Put them in hot water, not boiling, and soak for a couple of hours to soften them
  • Bring to the boil, take the leaves out of the water and then boil them again. Do this 4 times and then drain
  • Chop onions and tomatoes and fry them
  • Add smooth peanut butter, add your vegetables and a little water and mix until you have a paste.

Oruhere (Namibian porridge)

Merlyn, from Namibia, told us how she cooks Oruhere, a type of Namibian porridge.

Merlyn said, "Oruhere reminds me of being with my grandma. In Namibia, the sour milk described in the recipe would be made by storing milk straight from the cow for a couple of days.

"I think my favourite meal I’ve had since being in the UK is lasagne."

Oruhere recipe

Oruhere uses maize meal, like Sadza, but the end result will be a different consistency, more like a runny British porridge.

  • Boil water with a pinch of salt.
  • Add enough maize meal until you have a runny porridge consistency
  • Cook for 10-15 minutes on a low heat, stirring continuously
  • Turn off heat and allow porridge to cool
  • Make a sour cream by blending together plain yoghurt and semi skimmed milk and add to your porridge
  • Sweeten with sugar and butter.
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