Cooking Show Explores African Flavor In Berlin

Jul 19, 2013

Tuleka Prah grew up traveling a lot. Almost every three years, her family moved to another country, mainly in Africa.

For the past six years, the PhD student and self-taught filmmaker has been living in Berlin, but not without some African flavor. She likes to cook the food she grew up with.

"I was looking for a recipe for this Ghanaian dish called Kontomire, which is basically, you can use spinach instead of cocoyam leaves which you use in Ghana. And then I just found all these really horrible pictures of what the food looked like. For me, I knew it tasted good. I thought, 'Why are these pictures so rubbish,' and instead of being yet another person complaining about something, I could try to do it myself."

So last October, Prah went to Ghana to start her project "My African Food Map," an ongoing food series covering African cuisine.

My African Food Map
Credit My African Food Map

It's not your typical food show; the 32-year-old filmed the cooking of four Ghanaian dishes in a poetic way, working to show a different view of African culture. The intimate atmosphere of her short video features are supported by music.

She also recorded enthusiastic voices talking about their favorite food.

"How they describe it is what makes you want to try it. I thought it would be good to have somebody whose favorite food it was and who said it in the most passionate way and have them as the only voice in the video, really," Prah says.

In an effort to introduce African food to a wide variety of people, Prah has made "My African Food Map" videos available to view on You Tube.

"I try to demystify it. I think everyone thinks African food is really hectic, difficult flavor-wise, or difficult to cook. Ingredients are hard to find, but actually most of the time all the basic ingredients are here."

So far, the filmmaker has financed the whole project herself. At a recent fundraising event in Berlin, she cooked a three-course menu to raise money for the next installments of her project.

"I made groudnut soup. Usually groundnut soup is with chicken, but I made it with aubergine, carrots and peppers because there were a lot of vegetarians. The other thing is a lot of people think African food is mainly meat based, but it's really not. For example, in Ghana most people enjoy eating fish. Fish is the most popular thing."

Jollof rice is one of the dishes Tuleka Prah made at a recent fundraising event for the project.
Credit My African Food Map

She also prepared Light soup, Jollof rice, beans and plantain, and mango fool.

"Everybody loved it. There was not a single person that didn't. They actively came up to me and said it. They almost seemed surprised that they would like it."

Her next food journey will be through Kenya. The ultimate goal of "My African Food Map" is to cover the entire continent, and although there is African food available in her current hometown Berlin, it's nowhere near as easily available as Asian food.

But in future, Prah hopes, to find it on any street corner. 

"It would be nice when I want to get a take-away, to get Jollof rice take-away, why not."