Tools & Equipment Used in African Cooking

Cast-iron pots are central to African cooking.

African food usually consists of a variety of vegetables, meats, many different spices and sometimes rice. African cooking is unique because it is usually done outside, rather than in a traditional indoor kitchen found in other parts of the world. African cuisine is varied and diverse, but also has a lot of common tools and equipment for cooking traditional African foods.

1 Open Wood Fire

An open wood fire is one of the most important aspects of African cooking. A makeshift kitchen is created around the fire, and the fire is central to all aspects of cooking styles, whether they be grilling, steaming, roasting or frying. An African fire that is used for cooking usually has three pieces of wood stacked together in the shape of a triangle.

2 Cast-Iron Pots

After a fire, a thick and sturdy cast-iron pot is a central piece of equipment for African cooking. The pot may be balanced over the fire using stones, or hung above the fire. The pot may also be placed directly into the fire or on hot coals. Sometimes, the pot is placed on top of hot coals and then buried in ashes and more hot coals. The pot serves as an oven, a frying pan, a roaster and communal bowl, all at once. It is most often used to make porriddges and stews using meats and vegetables.

3 Mortar and Pestle

African cooking uses a lot of dried grain and corn, as well as spices that need to be ground up. A mortar and pestle is the perfect piece of kitchen equipment for this type of application. In some parts of Africa, the mortar and pestle is shaped out of heavy stone, but in others it is formed out of wood.

4 Leaves

Leafy vegetation, such as banana leaves and corn husks, is used in many forms of African cooking. For example, wrapping food in banana leaves and then placing it in hot coal ashes or a pot of hot sand can cook food like an oven would. Foods can also be placed in the leaves to be steamed.