Over here in the Motherland, we’ve been cooking up a storm with spices that haven’t even featured in your wildest dreams
Team Ekaterra is on a special mission. We are here to tell stories about food and food culture from West Africa, from how it’s grown, to how it’s prepared, to how it’s eaten and to how it defines who we are as a people - and how it connects black people in the Diaspora. Our spices are just a means to bring those stories to life - wherever you are in the world.
Walking down the seasoning aisle in a regular grocery store, you come up on the spices. What do you see? Rows of fennel, oregano, nutmeg, paprika, chili, turmeric, a few Mediterranean spices such as sumac, at a stretch some ras el hanout. You will also find a number of seasonings such as Cajun, Italian and Chinese five spice, and some grilling mixes too. You get the drift? Head to another grocery store and you’ll find just about the same. Try your luck over at a local spice merchant that sells ethically sourced spices from around the world and when you get to the Africa sections you’re highly likely to find more of those Mediterranean and North African spices, maybe. It’s great, we love that they’ve broken through the flavor barrier and are bringing diversity to the flavor world. What you may not find in any of these places are spices from West Africa. If you do find some you may wonder what in the world are you meant to do with them?! That’s why Ekaterra is here. A company committed to bringing you wild harvested, single-origin spices, along with unique seasonings featured in pots and pans in the Motherland.
The missing West African spices on many shelves and pantries has a lot to do with us, the West Africans (dear West African fam, don’t @ me!). We have been hoarding these gems for centuries. Over here in the Motherland, we’ve been cooking up a storm with spices that haven’t even featured in your wildest dreams. Soups, stews, grilled, fried and smoked foods, they are all generously blessed with these spices. Majority of these unique spices, herbs and aromatics are foraged - harvested wild from the bush (or forest as you may prefer). Even out here on these mean streets across the region, we do not know of all the amazing roots, barks, leaves, seeds, and fruits we have available to us. From one village to the next, from one tribe to the next, these foods vary by a wide margin. However, many are common, used in similar ways, such as to cook okra or egusi soup, and many are unique to particular regions, used to cook efere Ibaba unique to southeastern Nigeria, for example. Aside from being used to flavor food, West African spices offer high nutritional value, and many also hold medicinal value as well. Imagine spices, herbs and aromatics used to nourish and flavor also being used to sustain and heal. That’s a win-win right there.
Tired of the same old spices spun a million different ways featured in recipes in your everyday life, we felt we could help you travel to foreign lands far far away via your plate. Uziza seeds in place of black peppercorns, scent leaf in place of dried basil, and calabash nutmeg in place of your regular nutmeg, some bush onion here, some alligator pepper there, a little heat, a dash of depth and a whole lot of character. For far too long most of the world hasn’t had a clue about what spices are used in West African cooking, how they are used or what else they could be used for. The possibilities are endless! In addition, as we are exploring this world of food, flavor and culture we wanted to bring you along. It’s definitely time to start exploring. We hope this is the beginning of a great journey that awakens the culinary adventurer in you, intrigues your inner spice connoisseur and tempts the cultural explorer that we know you are. Fasten your seat belts and get ready to enjoy the ride!