It is therefore a unique opportunity to honor Africa and present a wide variety of “Made in Africa” food products, some still unknown, others forgotten and which are coming back into fashion. Admittedly, our gastronomy is little known, not popular and suffers from a lot of prejudice. We must all work to break down these clichés and barriers that keep us away from other cultures, and work to popularize African cuisines.
So make way for the feast every two weeks in this section, to share my favorites in terms of “African gastronomy”. And this time, I’m taking you to meet Clarence Kopogo, a Franco-Central African chef, creative, with abundant talent!
- Chef Clarence Kopogo © DR
There are people who touch you and enchant you with their talent and personality! Chef Clarence Kopogo, whom we met a few years ago, is one of them. She is a passionate young chef, who is committed to promoting the heritage of African culinary cultures still unknown to the general public, through a new approach. Lively, instinctive and passionate, like her cuisine, this chef takes you on a divine culinary journey between France and the Central African Republic.
She distinguished herself very early in a very masculine environment, by training with the starred chef Thierry Marx, in basic cooking techniques, with a high-level program. With her sister, she created the restaurant ” Nali table », with the aim of making people discover Central African cuisine, as well as other African cuisines. It was then that she realized how much African cuisine is unknown to the general public and suffers from prejudice: too spicy, too spicy, lack of hospitality and know-how of the trades in the dining room… In real “Explorer of African cuisines”, she begins a real research work, finding no encyclopedia relating the history of African gastronomy or directories of products used in these cuisines.
A space of hybrid reflections
At the end of the adventure Nali table » in 2019, the chef Clarence begins to offer her expertise in workshops under her brand « The Kwest by Clarence “. Literally translated as Clarence’s quest. This universe of her own is a space of hybrid reflections, which goes through a return to empirical kitchens (because she had to go back to the sources and to her history), in order to define new outlines which she called ” the new kitchens of Africa “. Its culinary DNA thus finds its essence in its desire to enhance the heritage of African culinary cultures, through a new approach.
Always in search of new tastes (her hybrid cuisine has no code), she draws her inspiration from multiple influences, while remaining deeply rooted in African cultures and the know-how of her mother and aunts. By reproducing the gestures learned in order to rediscover the comforting taste and smell of “mama’s” cooking, she never imagined that cooking would be her job. It now offers tasty and creative cuisine, with revisited specialties from the Central African Republic and other African countries, with a view to cultural transmission.
Clarence was also named “Young Leader” of the French-African Foundation’s class of 2021.
Today, I invite you to let yourself be carried away on a dizzying journey of flavors, thanks to his recipe for “Déguè* with rose water, whipped cream and moringa**”.
*Déguè or thiakry is a refreshing, popular and much appreciated dessert in West Africa. It is made from millet couscous and yogurt and is flavored according to tastes and desires.
** Moringa is a very hardy tree native to India, now grown in many tropical countries in Asia and Africa. While it is still little known in France, it represents the basis of the diet in India where its fruit is eaten and in Africa where its leaves are highly prized and transformed into powder. This nutritional treasure has not escaped the attention of NGOs fighting against malnutrition. For good reason, it is extremely rich in minerals (calcium, potassium, iron, magnesium), in vitamins A, C, E, in very good quality proteins (containing the 9 essential amino acids), antioxidants. Millet couscous and moringa can be found in African grocery stores and on the internet.
the recipe for deguè with rose water, whipped cream and moringa from clarence
- “Déguè with rose water, whipped cream and moringa” ©DR
(Preparation: 30 min / Cooking millet: 15 min)
Ingredients for 4 persons :
• Cooked millet couscous: 200g
• Cottage cheese or yogurt (or curdled milk): 500g
• Honey: 200g
• Raisins: 200g
• Rose water: 3 tablespoons
• Orange blossom water: 3 tablespoons
• Squeezed oranges + Zest: 2
• Squeezed lemon + zest: 1
• Liquid cream: 50cl
• Moringa powder: 20g
• Icing sugar: 150g
Take a saucepan, put ½ liter of water in it and bring to the boil. Pour the millet couscous into the boiling water and let it swell in the pan. Continue cooking over very low heat for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Once cooked, let cool.
Vigorously beat the cottage cheese and honey with a whisk or mixer. Book.
In a large salad bowl, mix the beaten cheese and the rest of the ingredients: raisins and rose water, orange blossom water, citrus zest and juice. Add the cold millet couscous and mix gently. Reserve in the refrigerator for a few hours. In a stand mixer, combine the icing sugar and moringa. Serve chilled with a quenelle of Moringa whipped cream. You can also sprinkle this dessert with some cut fruit.
Have a good meal and let’s never forget that cooking re-establishes links and has this singular power to bring us together beyond our differences, around the original and universal pleasure of tableware.
Dénadi Carole Sagbo is the founder and CEO of the communications agency Dena-di, specializing in content strategy, public relations and event management. She has twenty years of experience and has worked for large groups, international organizations and States in sub-Saharan Africa, Europe and the United States. The Dena-di agency based in Paris and Cotonou has given itself the mission of promoting African excellence through its arts, cultures and gastronomy.