When it comes to African cookbooks, Morocco typically dominates: four of the five bestsellers of the past decade, according to Nielsen BookScan, showcase dishes from the North African country. But the top-selling African title, The Soul of a New Cuisine by Ethiopia-born, Sweden-reared chef Marcus Samuelsson (HMH, 2006), collects recipes from across the continent.
This season, West Africa comes into focus. Senegal: Modern Senegalese Recipes from the Source to the Bowl (Lake Isle, Sept.), is the second cookbook by Dakar-born Pierre Thiam; Lake Isle published Yolele, named for one of two restaurants he ran in Brooklyn, in 2008.
Senegal, which Thiam, who now runs a New York City catering company, wrote with Jennifer Sit, emphasizes a healthful approach to his home country’s cuisine. “Senegal is full of recipes for leafy salads, whole grains, grilled meat and fish, and fresh fruit,” says Hiroko Kiffner, publisher, plus superfoods such as the ancient grain fonio, and virgin red palm oil, and moringa. The book addresses some of the issues that the country’s food systems are facing, including soil that has become unproductive after years of chemical-fertilizer use, and also spotlights local producers.
In November, Hippocrene will publish The Ghana Cookbook by Fran Osseo-Asare and Barbara Baëta. Though dishes like fante-fante fisherman’s soup and atadwe milkye (tiger nut pudding) may be unfamiliar, health-conscious readers will appreciate the raw materials.
“Ghana cannot grow wheat and does not have a strong dairy industry,” says Priti Chitnis Gress, publisher and editorial director, “so its cuisine is mostly gluten-free and dairy-free, and in line with the concerns of many American home cooks.”