Evaluating Spices in Benin Food

Countries that love spicy food

As you may know, African cuisine is characterized by the presence of many spices, especially those that are pungent. If you visit countries like Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Senegal or others, you can see a wide variety of dishes that involve  a diversity of spices. Indeed, this is due to the variety of ethnicities that you can meet in these lands. Without a doubt, Benin is also one of those countries that love spicy food. In fact, most of the Benin spices vary according to its 12 regions. So, you will be able to taste a variety of Benin Food during your visit. In this article, we will share with you some of the key spices that you can discover in Benin street food. Finally, we will remove some doubt around the question: is spicy food addictive? So read on to enjoy these valuable resources.

Enjoy Benin food? As you may know, African cuisine is characterized by the presence of many spices, especially those that are pungent. If you visit countries like Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Senegal or others, you can see a wide variety of dishes that involve  a diversity of spices. Indeed, this is due to the variety of ethnicities that you can meet in these lands. Without a doubt, Benin is also one of those countries that love spicy food. In fact, most of the Benin spices vary according to its 12 regions. So, you will be able to taste a variety of Benin Food during your visit. In this article, we will share with you some of the key spices that you can discover in Benin street food. Finally, we will remove some doubt around the question: is spicy food addictive? So read on to enjoy these valuable resources.

Most popular spices in Benin Food

You may know one or two of these spices. But these Benin spices are usually found in traditional drinks or in most savory dishes you will encounter in Benin.

Here are some of the popular spice:

DOTE (ginger) 

Ginger or Dotè in Fon language is a tree root. It is one of the most used spices in West Africa and also in benin street food. It can be used in tomato or vegetable sauces. Indeed, it elevates the taste of soups, sauces and all dishes in general. Ginger can be used fresh or reduced to powder; ginger is a powerful ingredient used in Berbere. Moreover, it has many virtues and health experts say it would facilitate digestion.

Related: Kenya Food Ingredients For Swahili Dishes

Enjoy Benin Food? Ginger or Dotè in Fon language is a tree root. It is one of the most used spices in West Africa and also in benin street food. It can be used in tomato or vegetable sauces. Indeed, it elevates the taste of soups, sauces and all dishes in general. Ginger can be used fresh or reduced to powder; ginger is a powerful ingredient used in Berbere. Moreover, it has many virtues and health experts say it would facilitate digestion.
Fresh Spices

Related: Juicy Liberian Rice Bread Recipe – Popular West African Food

AYOO (garlic) 

Like ginger, garlic or Ayoo in Fon language is a main component of Benin Food. It grows underground like ginger. As you may know, garlic has a very strong smell and taste that inhibits the strong odors of certain foods. This is why it is used frequently in cooking. Moreover, its medicinal properties are many. Thus, they help prevent and reduce flu or cold. They also improve blood pressure and cholesterol levels in the body. 

TAKIN (chili pepper) 

Is spicy food addictive? In Benin, we can say no, because the red or green pepper is one of the most popular Benin spices. A Beninese dish without chili will not be good at all. That’s why in Benin, practically everything is spiced with chili pepper. Moreover, red pepper is consumed crushed, powdered or fresh in meals. Because chili pepper is very spicy, it must be used sparingly.

Is spicy food addictive? In Benin, we can say no, because the red or green pepper is one of the most popular Benin spices. A Beninese dish without chili will not be good at all. That's why in Benin, practically everything is spiced with chili pepper. Moreover, red pepper is consumed crushed, powdered or fresh in meals. Because chili pepper is very spicy, it must be used sparingly.

Related: How to make Ethiopian Berbere Spice

NINNINKOU (sweet bell pepper) 

There are several varieties of pepper (Ninninkou in the local language of Benin) throughout Africa. Like other spices, it gives dishes a pleasant aroma and a special flavor.  It also has very good therapeutic properties such as improving eye health, preventing anemia, etc.

CLOU DE GIROFLE(Cloves)

Cloves improve blood pressure and cures mouth pains according to health practitioners. Above all, Cloves give a special smell to the meal. It can be used not only in vegetable sauces, but also in rice and couscous.

AFITIN (Mustard)

Lastly, mustard spice is widely consumed in central and southern Benin. It is used in glutinous sauces such as okra sauce. Afitin is appreciated because of its smell which does not go unnoticed. Personally, I am interested in cooking okra sauce with Afitin which might be another flavor galore to experience. Be sure to subscribe to our free newsletter to get notified.

List of spices used in Benin. If you enjoy Benin food, you will love this.
Spices of Benin

Related: Satisfying African Pepper Soup recipe

Benin Street Food

To truly experience and taste the spices of Benin during a visit or at your home, you can consider these dishes below:

The amiwô dish (red paste)

Called “Djèwô” in the local Fon language, Amiwô is undoubtedly one of the most popular dishes in southern Benin. It is prepared with a variety of spices including ginger, garlic, pepper, etc. Finally, it is accompanied by tomato juice.

Benin street food : Peanut sauce (aziin nusunnu)

Aziin Nusunnu is called mafe in Senegal, tiguadégué in Mali, aziin nusunnu in Benin, peanut soup in Ghana or Nigeria, azindezzi in Togo. It is simply cooked with ground and smooth peanut paste, crushed tomatoes or paste. Stay tuned for guided instructions on how to prepare Aziin Nusunnu the authentic Benin way.

Aziin Nusunnu is called mafe in Senegal, tiguadégué in Mali, aziin nusunnu in Benin, peanut soup in Ghana or Nigeria, azindezzi in Togo. It is simply cooked with ground and smooth peanut paste, crushed tomatoes or paste. Stay tuned for guided instructions on how to Aziin Nusunnu the authentic Benin way.
Peanut Sauce and fufu another version

To enhance its flavor during cooking, ingredients such as chili, onion, mustard and ginger are added. Wow, I am excited already and can’t wait to cook the Benin version of peanut soup as a Liberian. Other spices such as turmeric, coriander and chili flakes are also used. Okay, game on! I love coriander to the moon and I need this version of peanut soup in my life now.

Another  Benin Food  with flavor : tomato sauce (N’sounou sin)

Called in Yoruba in Nigeria “omi ôbè”, this sauce is mostly liquid or soupy in consistency. The basic ingredient is fresh tomato puree and other spices. This sounds like a winter or rainy season must-have to warm you up. There are different types of tomato sauce variations such as spicy N’sounou sin and some  with vegetables, or some with pumpkin seed flour, or with peanut paste. West Africa is so creative with all these flavor combinations. I will get fat with joy.

Is spicy food addictive?

Is spicy food addictive ? In reality, spicy food has never lost its fans and rightfully so the world will be sad without it. Although food trends are changing, spicy foods that “burn the tongue” will always be appreciated because humans are weird people that like self torture (lol jk). It is estimated that one-third of the world’s population consumes hot spices every day; you can assume that includes most of Africa and Asia because the Western world doesn’t like spicy food wahala. Evidently, most of our traditional foods use chili or habanero pepper.

Related: Liberian Dry Rice Pepper Sauce Gravy

Is spicy food addictive ? In reality, spicy food has never lost its fans and rightfully so the world will be sad without it. Although food trends are changing, spicy foods that "burn the tongue" will always be appreciated because humans are weird freaks that love self torture (lol jk). It is estimated that one-third of the world's population consumes hot spices every day
Liberian Pepper sauce gravy

University of Pennsylvania psychologist Paul Rozin says that spicy food lovers like the “burning sensation.” As a result, they consume more of it. The source of spice in chili peppers is capsaicin. This substance binds to a number of receptors that signal pain from heat. The resulting spicy taste will also command the brain to release endorphin hormones that can cause a sense of comfort and happiness. With this, I don’t understand people. 

Is it this feeling of comfort that gets spicy food lovers hooked? No, according to some theories, humans like the spicy taste because they crave challenges. Personally, I like small amounts of pepper spice in my food now because it adds a heightened layer of flavor to the dish. Since I transitioned to a plant-based lifestyle, I noticed my fiery spice craving reduced drastically.

A’las

As you have just discovered, Benin is one of the countries that love spicy food. So, we’ve introduced you to the main spices of Benin and some of the usual dishes in which you can find them. Do you know of any other spices of Beninese origin that are not mentioned in our list above? Happy to read your comments. Feel free to share this article.

Suggested Recipes

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *