BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific
BBCi NEWS   SPORT   WEATHER   WORLD SERVICE   A-Z INDEX     

BBC News World Edition
    You are in: Business  
News Front Page
Africa
Americas
Asia-Pacific
Europe
Middle East
South Asia
UK
Business
E-Commerce
Economy
Market Data
Entertainment
Science/Nature
Technology
Health
-------------
Talking Point
-------------
Country Profiles
In Depth
-------------
Programmes
-------------
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
SERVICES
-------------
EDITIONS
 Monday, 30 December, 2002, 10:05 GMT
African cuisine adds variety to London
Selection of African dishes
New foods and tastes are being offered to Londoners

Ask a British person for their favourite place to have a meal out, and they are just as likely to name a Chinese or an Indian restaurant as a fish and chip shop.

But nowadays food from other parts of the world is becoming very fashionable in the UK - including cuisine from Africa.

One of the great treats about living in London is that you can eat food from all over the planet without travelling more than a few miles.

A growing number of African business people are cashing in on the market.
Mandola restaurant
African restaurants attract European customers

One example is the Mama Calabar, a Nigerian restaurant in North London.

When I arrived, Chef Affiong Hoganbassey was busy preparing Efik food from the Calabar region in south eastern Nigeria.

A typical dish - and the restaurant's most popular - is Edikang Ikong, pumpkin leaf cooked with spinach, crayfish and palm oil.

Chef Affiong said she was not only cooking for Nigerians.

"We have the whites, we have Ghanaians, Ugandans, Zimbabweans - everybody comes in here and they enjoy our dishes," she said.

"You feel nice when you take them. They are vegetables, meat and fish," she added.

Of course, finding the money to get a new business off the ground is never easy, especially in a foreign country.

The owner of Mama Calabar was supported by her husband, an accountant, and once money started coming in from the restaurant, a bank approached her and gave her a 10,000 ($16,000) loan, although they had refused to lend to her at first.

Growing demand

One of the main overheads is staff wages but most African restaurants in London employ African workers.

Bedlu Teklamariam of the Ethiopian restaurant Addis
I would love to find African restaurants being recognised in the food markets here

Yousif Mukhayer, Mandola restaurant
explained:

"Our community is growing and when the community is growing the demand grows as well."

Although many Ethiopians are well educated, they find it difficult to get work in their chosen profession, so many of them start their own business.

Five years ago there were six Ethiopian restaurants in London, now there are 16 or 17.

But there is only one Sudanese restaurant in the city - and that is Mandola.

Less than five per cent of Mandola's customers are actually from Sudan, but it is very trendy with Europeans.

Change needed

So could African restaurants ever catch on in the UK in the way that Chinese and Indian ones have?

Only if they make a few changes according to Mandola's owner Yousif Mukhayer: "I would love to find African restaurants being recognised in the food markets here."

But he recognises that they might have to improve their presentation and that ingredients such as dried okra are difficult to eat with a knife and fork.

I have discovered that there is plenty of tasty and authentic African food in London.

And perhaps more than anything else, the restaurateurs are helping to develop a positive image of Africa in the minds of the city's diners.

  WATCH/LISTEN
  ON THIS STORY
  The BBC's Duncan Barlett
"Five years ago there were six Ethiopian restaurants in London, now there are 16 or 17."

Click here to go to BBC London Online
See also:

22 Jun 02 | From Our Own Correspondent
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Business stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Business stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East |
South Asia | UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature |
Technology | Health | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |
Programmes