Vegan Africa: Marie Kacouchia shares recipes from Ivory Coast and past

Vegan Africa: Marie Kacouchia shares recipes from Ivory Coast and past

‘I need folks to see it as an introduction to African cuisines, plural,’ says the Franco-Ivorian recipe developer and creator

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Our cookbook of the week is Vegan Africa: Plant-Based mostly Recipes from Ethiopia to Senegal by Marie Kacouchia. To attempt a recipe from the e-book, take a look at: purple cabbage salad with mango and peanuts, vegetable mafe (Malian peanut stew) and savoury Mauritian crêpes.

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Marie Kacouchia had a modest objective for her crowdfunded cookbook debut, considering she may promote 50, 100, possibly 200 copies on the most. Now, Vegan Africa has been printed in French, English and German.

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“I’m overwhelmed by the response, actually,” says Kacouchia, a Paris-based recipe developer and creator who was born in Abidjan, Ivory Coast. “And I’m very, very glad and in addition proud to see that persons are excited by African cuisines.”

After years of being flexitarian and vegetarian, Kacouchia had just lately change into vegan. She discovered herself gravitating in the direction of cooking Asian dishes, however then it hit her: Absolutely there was a wealth of plant-based African dishes — she simply needed to discover them.

“At first, the response was, ‘No. African cuisines usually are not vegan and will probably be very onerous so that you can discover recipes you’ll be able to incorporate into your new way of life.’ And it actually annoyed me.”

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Past the frustration, Kacouchia was skeptical. “I knew, by some means, that there have been historically vegan cuisines. And likewise from my expertise. Like, when I’m in Ivory Coast and after I’m in my mom’s village (near Bouaflé within the centre of the nation), there may be hardly ever meat and even fish.”

Kacouchia began her analysis by asking her mom, Marie-Madeleine, about Ivorian and Burkinabe dishes, and calling her grandparents and aunts. Then, she solid a wider internet, contacting buddies who’ve connections to Africa and asking them to place her in contact with their family.

These conversations have been eye-opening. “It was a great way for me to find what it’s to be African, however East African, South African and African from the North.”

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Vegan Africa by Marie Kacouchia
Marie Kacouchia drew on the meals traditions of greater than 15 international locations for her cookbook debut, Vegan Africa. Photograph by The Experiment

Impressed by what she realized concerning the meals traditions of greater than 15 international locations, Kacouchia’s first intuition was to share that data with others. In simply two months, she wrote “just a little e-book,” The Spicy Soul, and requested a photographer pal, Fatou Wagué, to take the pictures. It didn’t take lengthy earlier than Kacouchia was bombarded with messages from folks asking the place they may discover a copy.

Stunned by the demand, she requested French publishing home Éditions La Plage if they might be excited by publishing the e-book. “They instantly stated sure as a result of it was an enormous gap of their assortment. There have been no African books. None in any respect. And it’s an enormous (writer), you already know, so I used to be by some means filling an enormous hole,” says Kacouchia.

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Éditions La Plage printed Cuisines d’Afrique Vegan in September 2021. The English version, Vegan Africa (The Experiment), adopted in November 2022 and the German version, Afrika Vegan (Stiebner Verlag GmbH), was printed in December that very same 12 months. Kacouchia remains to be pinching herself. Along with contributing recipes to magazines and instructing cooking courses in Paris, she now has a global platform — and she or he needs to make it rely.

The meals traditions of the continent range broadly, Kacouchia underscores, with many alternative traits and influences. Within the east, for instance, cooks have adopted dishes, substances and methods from Chinese language and Indian immigrants. Within the west, the Lebanese group has made an indelible mark — particularly on the area’s avenue meals. Shawarma is a typical snack in Kacouchia’s hometown of Abidjan, and tabbouleh is a staple. In Vegan Africa, Kacouchia shares two of her takes on the Levantine salad: one that includes cauliflower, pistachio and lemon confit; the opposite, an Ivorian-Lebanese mash-up combining cassava (a nod to attiéké), radishes and herbs.

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The greater than 70 recipes she shares within the e-book — together with these from Ethiopia, her native Ivory Coast, Morocco and Senegal — are the results of her analysis with a few of her personal creations woven in. Vegan Africa is a place to begin, not a survey, says Kacouchia; a technique to ignite curiosity and improve understanding. “My method is admittedly humble. As a result of, after all, this e-book is just not an ideal abstract of all the things Africa has to supply, however it was an introduction. And I need folks to see it as an introduction to African cuisines, plural.”

Although the e-book in the end got here collectively shortly, the seed was planted years earlier than Kacouchia grew to become vegan. After graduating from enterprise college in 2016, she based Paris-Babi and Fête Solidaire — an organization and honest, respectively — which promoted schooling for women and girls in Ivory Coast. She had been residing in France since she was eight years previous, and going again as an grownup “was very surprising, in a great way.” Every thing had modified, and meals was a technique to reconnect.

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Returning to her mom’s village was tough, she remembers. Kacouchia didn’t communicate the language and had so many questions. “Simply sitting there, watching them cook dinner, asking with my palms. Tasting, letting them present me find out how to reduce, find out how to put together sure stuff, actually helped me join. And now I’m studying and I began by studying the identify of the substances first. So, it’s a means for me, after I cook dinner at dwelling right here in Paris, to essentially have them with me.”

Kacouchia’s cooking has been influenced by each her houses, France and West Africa. A “melting pot from the start,” her mom is Burkinabé and Guinean, her father Ghanaian, and she or he was born in Ivory Coast. (“I actually am from West Africa.”) Studying extra about her mother and father’ meals cultures was a means for her to outline her personal identification. “It was a technique to share. It was a technique to actually make sense of all that. As a result of I’m not a toddler of an immigrant, I’m a toddler immigrant. It’s bizarre, actually, since you’re not totally from dwelling, however you’re probably not from the welcoming nation. You might be each.”

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As an immigrant residing in a nation with such a robust culinary historical past and custom, Kacouchia embraces the tradition conflict. There are guidelines in France, she says, and meals — from the cheese to the charcuterie — is sacred. For her, merging each cultures in her cooking is a enjoyable problem.

Vegan cooking has made her extra inventive, Kacouchia says. Initially, she considered methods to swap animal merchandise with plant-based substitutes however quickly realized how limiting that was. “We’ve got to essentially make the veggies the star and make it central in the way in which we method the composition of the plate, and never solely attempt to exchange the meat.” She has at all times eaten loads of greens, however now could be extra excited by exploring methods to rework them. “I dare extra. I take dangers.”

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In Vegan Africa, Kacouchia strikes a stability between recipes which are plant-based by nature and variations. Yassa, for instance, is often made with rooster or fish. Kacouchia opted for cauliflower in her model of the Senegalese dish. “To me, it was crucial, as a result of the purpose was to not say, ‘Effectively, to make a dish vegan, you simply should take the meat out.’ No. To me, it was actually exploring and discovering authentically vegan recipes. And I wished to point out that each methods work.”

A number of years later, her analysis has simply begun. “I’m so, so glad that persons are inquisitive about my work and prepared to be taught extra. It’s attention-grabbing, as a result of, for me, it’s an incomplete process,” says Kacouchia, laughing. “It’s a piece in progress and I’m nonetheless studying day-after-day.”

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