Books & Literature

Cookbook Review: Saka Saka, by Anto Cocagne

An ode to conviviality, south of the Sahara – generosity and positivity through recipes, stories and culinary traditions.

Delightful and different, very easy to navigate.

Feature image credit: Rebecca Wu

The eye-catching and vibrant hardcover of this recipe book is just a hint of what is to come. The entirety of it feels lively and visual. Inside on the left-hand page you’ll find each recipe, and opposite is a full-paged (matte) picture of the meal. Although a picture-per-page-per-recipe makes for a rather thick book, it is well designed; the thickness of each page is heavy enough so that when cooking, nothing is needed to hold the page open, making it easy to use.

After an introduction to African cooking, the six main categories covered are: Bases and Starters, Mains, Sides, Street Food, Desserts, and Drinks. Interspersed throughout the book are beautiful bright illustrations that include photos of, and interviews with, African celebrities, patterned pages and pictures of ingredients.

The design of the recipe book is warm and inviting and makes you feel ready to try something new!

For the purposes of the review, I made the author’s version of mafė (peanut-crusted) chicken, allokos (fried plantain bananas), and placali (cassava fufu).

Peanut-Crusted Chicken (page 98)

This recipe requires a reasonable amount of preparation.

Firstly, you need to prepare the red nokoss (page 26: I found the nokoss to be a frequently used ingredient in many dishes in this book), and you need to marinate the chicken prior to cooking.

As the nokoss is used in many dishes, you can prepare it ahead of time or in bulk. The red nokoss can also be used in other types of cuisine as the ingredients include onions, cloves, and ginger (to name a few) so none of it went to waste. As I had limited time, I did not marinate the chicken prior to cooking, and so the flavour may have been affected.

The sauce is the trickiest part of this dish and requires regular stirring. The chicken itself was absolutely divine: tender and juicy with lots of flavour, with a crispy breadcrumb coating. It can be eaten without the sauce, however the sauce gives it the umph.

The fantastic thing about this dish is just like schnitzel, you can pair it with other types of sauces. We ate the meal with roast pumpkin the first time, and steamed broccoli the second, both of which matched Cocagne’s sauce.

Allokos (page 128)

This is an incredibly simple dish to make. If you are not used to plantain bananas, you may be surprised by the flavour as it is more a savoury rather than sweet snack.

Rather than placing the fried plantains on a paper towel, I used the base of an air fryer for draining, so that leftovers could be easily reheated later. This dish must be eaten hot.

Placali (page 138)

Although there is only one ingredient (plus water) in this dish, it is much trickier than it seems to pull off. It gets pretty sticky. The instructions in this recipe were cumbersome compared to the alternatives.

When I went to the local African store and needed assistance with all of the ingredients, the owner of the shop was incredibly helpful. He took one look at the instructions of this recipe and told me to ignore them. Therefore, instead of following the instructions listed, I used the method of making them that he showed me from a YouTube video (a quick google search will tell you that there are different ways of making fufu between countries).

Whether or not this affected the flavour, I do not know, however fufu is not designed to be eaten on its own. It is served with sauces or soups. The shopkeeper also told me how to make a suitable meat soup with okra for serving. As expected, it went well!

Reviewed by Rebecca Wu

The views expressed in this review belong to the author and not Glam Adelaide, its affiliates, or employees.

Distributed by: Murdoch Books
 Released: February 2022
 RRP: $45.00

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