This essay encompasses the pasta that is heavily eaten in the continent of Africa. Vermicelli noodles used in African dishes are extremely thin and lightweight compared to the noodles used in spaghetti. Vermicelli’s significance in the African community of the Mande countries and North Africa are always pronounced because other than that Africans are not familiar to pasta dishes. This essay will go in depth of the culture of these African countries in significance to cuisine and how vermicelli became socially impacted. I will also include anthropological theories such as interviewing and observing. I also found recipes on different African vermicelli and included my mom’s in order to exhibit its similarities even if they may be done differently.
In the majority of Africa, food is a way to bring people together. It creates friendships, relationships, and can be a tool used to end a quarrel. The Mande countries in West Africa include Mali, Ivory Coast, and Guinea. These countries speak the same language: Mandingo in different dialects, but with these dialects they are still able to understand each other. They also share the same traditions and they are known for their own specific way of making vermicelli. The relationships between the Mande country is sisterly. They may tease one another on certain things like their flag colors or the way they say different verbs but they come in unison when it comes to how good their food is. The people of these countries take so much pride in their food because for hundreds of years and still today in Africa, the woman of a household’s cooking determined its value. The rating of a household’s cuisine determines if that household has a ‘good’ woman and wise man. This culture of food is extremely embedded in African tradition and that is the reason for so much importance to be on the dishes.
I researched two different Vermicelli recipes from West Africa in order to specifically state its reason for certain differences and usually these reasons were due to environmental changes, lack of resources, or simply because it’s something the family always did when cooking the dish. Ghanian food is known for their jollof rice so it’s something that’s included in many of the dishes. For this reason most of the vermicelli in Ghana is cooked with jollof rice and included in the main ingredients for this dish.
400g Vermicelli noodles or rice noodles
5 cups jollof base sauce
1 cup mixed vegetable
1 Maggi cube
2 bay leafs
1/2 tsp curry powder
1/2 tsp thyme
salt to taste
Preparation time: 5 mins Cooking time: 30 mins
- Fill a kettle with water and bring to the boil
- Place noodles in a large bowl and fill to the brim with water. Use a spatula to ensure all of the noodles are immersed in the water
- Place a large pan on medium heat and add in the jollof base sauce
- After one minute remove the noodles which should of softened but not be soft from the bowl of water and place in the with the jollof sauce
- Add in the Maggi, curry powder, salt, bay leaf and thyme
- Stir to ensure that the noodles are covered in sauce and seasoning
- Wrap lid in foil and place on low heat for 15 minutes
- After 15 minutes add in the mixed vegetables and stir gently
- After a further 15 minutes remove from heat and check for consistency
- If soft, leave to rest with the lid off
- If not soft enough, take off heat but keep the lid on for a further 10 minutes
The vermicelli dish is really popular in Senegal and it can be found in every Senegealese restaurant. Meat is in a significant amount of African dishes because of the major influence of Islam. In an article on the meat consumption in an African country, the author found that Islam influences meat products consumption by recognizing where the animal came from and how it was killed for consuming. In order for a Muslim to eat meat it has to be cut in a halal way, which means the animal should be cut by his throat first in order for the animal to not die in pain. The meat in the vermicelli dish from Senegal is really important because of the diet of meat that is present there. Meat is eaten with every dish that’s cooked in Senegal and most African countries. In the article on the Senegalese vermicelli, the author notes that the origin of this dish in Senegal is to enjoy with family.
4 chicken legs
2 tablespoons white vinegar
2 tablespoons yellow mustard
4 large onions, diced
1 maggi cube
2 garlic cloves
Salt and pepper to taste
2 teaspoons ground red pepper
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon flour
2 cups water
2 eight ounce packages broken vermicelli rice noodles
2 tablespoons butter
2 cups water
Heat a large pan with 2 tablespoons butter over medium-high heat and saute the vermicelli lightly until it turns pale golden brown. Add 2 cups water, boil, cover and cook 3 minutes. Once done, remove the vermicelli and set aside. In the same pan heat oil then add chicken, mix the flour into cold water and add all ingredients to chicken. Cover and simmer 25 minutes until sauce is thick. Serve chicken over vermicelli.
I then interviewed my mom on her way of making the vermicelli that I absolutely love but only eat when there’s a baby shower or wedding. Vermicelli is easy dish that my family makes a lot of for celebratory events that introduce new beginnings. This is a tradition that I have observed in the Mande countries. One woman would get appointed to make the vermicelli on the biggest pot that can serve an entire audience. The woman chosen to make the vermicelli is honored and respected because it’s the most important dish during these events.
My mom’s Vermicelli recipe
3 packs of vermicelli noodles
Meat (as much as you like)
Red and green peppers
Put water in the pot and heat it on the stove until it boils. Put vermicelli noodles in pot and leave it for about 35 minutes. While the noodles are on the stove, cut up the peppers, tomatoes, and onions and put it in the second pot with oil. Put fire under it so it can fry. After the sauce has become thicker, season the meat and put it in the second pot. Mix it in with the sauce and let it cook. After the meat cooks in your desired way , put the fire low. The vermicelli should be done by now so drain it and put it in the second pot. Close the pot for 35 minutes and constantly check and stir it. The meal should be done after 35 minutes.
Seleshe ,Semeneh. “Meat consumption in Ethiopia.” NCBI. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4597829/
Senegalese Chicken Vermicelli Recipe. Theafricangourmet. https://www.theafricangourmet.com/2018/01/senegalese-chicken-vermicelli-recipe.html
Flavour of the Diaspora. “Vermicelli Noodles- Jollof Style!” https://flavourofthediaspora.wordpress.com/2015/10/05/4-vermicelli-noodles-jollof-style/