Welcome sign in the hall of the renovated urban ethnic market. (Photo: Alex Nwarueze)
The Covid-19 has constrained our travel plans but, with the right African ingredients, it is possible to be carried away by the taste …
The author supports The Lunchbox Fund, transforming South African education one school meal at a time.
It’s been over a year and many of us have had serious itchy feet. We are bored with our same old and same old South African environment but we lack the funds and / or vaccines necessary to undertake international adventures. This is where the Urban Ethnic Market comes in at the Blackheath Pavilion in Johannesburg. Whether you’re craving the taste of a distant homeland or hungry for unfamiliar foreign flavors, Lovelyn Bassey’s ultra-stylish African food store serves transcontinental culinary journeys that dampen the urge to travel. rooted greedy.
The business is not new but has recently been relocated and renovated. Previously located amid the hustle and bustle, crime and filth of Beyers Naude Drive, Urban Ethnic Market has always retained quality ingredients, but the quirky, cramped, fluorescent-lit space looked like a storage unit rather than an attractive aesthetic experience. As a result, customers tended to rush in search of specific items rather than linger long enough to discover new taste treats.
As Bassey observes: “We opened in 2017 and the store has evolved organically as the business has grown, so it has never been more considered in its layout than I would have wished it. I always felt that space didn’t do justice to the products we keep. Moving to Cresta gave me the opportunity to create the upscale and “boutique” environment that I have always wanted. Mission accomplished. The new urban, sleek and clean ethnic market opened on June 1, 2021 with an interior designed for quiet, comfortable and chic suburban shopping.
There is now enough space for customers to browse without colliding with goods or the other, so it is possible to properly appreciate the breadth and beauty of the offer. As Bassey says, “One of the things I’m most proud of is that we are truly Pan-African in what we sell. There are many wonderful African food stores in Johannesburg, but most of them specialize in a particular country or region. If you want Congolese, go ahead. If you want Eritrean, go ahead. For Nigerians or Zimbabweans you need more shopping. It can be exhausting. At Urban Ethnic, we not only have a full selection of African ingredients under one roof, but also many items from the African Diaspora, the Caribbean and South America. One might quibble that North Africa is underrepresented on the shelves of Urban Ethnic but, in the face of such superb stock, it seems super gross to say it. Especially since dukkah and harissa have been in Woolworths for 20 years and Urban Ethnic preserves rare and delicious delicacies such as the glorious (so sadly named) hot shito sauce from Ghana.
A sashay through the aromatic spice aisle of Urban Ethnic reveals other Ghanaian glories (such as prekese pods) that compete for customer attention with blends of Ethiopian Berber, Nigerian seasoning suya, surprisingly strong Akabanga chili oil from Rwanda, Mozambican piri-piri and soothing Sudanese infusions of karkade hibiscus flowers. Jollof spice blends are cleverly kept next to the shelves of local Malawi Kilombero rice and Nigerian indigenous Ofada rice.
The impressive assortment of African ancient grains includes Ethiopian teff, Senegalese fonio, pearl millet from Zimbabwe and South African sorghum. Are you looking for legumes? Benin bambara, Congolese red medesu beans, black and white basotho dinawa, canned Egyptian medames, Nigerian oloyin honey beans and olotu drum beans and Ghanaian akidi flour gluten free offer delicacies made from beans for all tastes or ailments.
Speaking of illnesses, those who are bored or broke because of the sky-high prices and the limited selection of hypoallergenic flours sold in most health food stores should check out African alternatives at very reasonable prices. Gluten-free flours made from plantain, yam, coconut, bambara, chickpeas, teff, fonio, sorghum, amaranth, and cassava flour are cheap as crisps at home. Urban Ethnic. Too tired to make your own gluten-free food? Take home some Congolese chikwanga cassava buns wrapped in banana leaves and steamed.
You don’t always get healthy, so it’s good to know that Urban Ethnic also has an impressive range of high cholesterol comfort foods. From the savory joys of Zimbabwean Thingz (“the spicy nap snack for desperados”) and Chompkin crisps to the fabulous frying of Kwuli-kwuli peanut crackers from Cameroon and the sweet-sick feeling that accompanies every bite of Kenyan Kona Kona. chewy candy, there is a region specific African junk food solution to suit every occasion. They also keep Indomie “Indomitable” instant noodles and the full range of Maggi-Naija bouillon cubes …
In the fresh fruit and veg section, there are yams and plantains along with pretty pink cola nuts, bright green Congolese bitkuteku (spinach), and Nigerian aug leaves. Dairy refrigerators contain niter kibbeh (spiced and clarified butter) and (when air travel currently constrained by Covid allows) cheese Fromage du Kivu. Whether you want sun-dried Zambian matemba (kapenta), fresh catfish, or tins of Titus sardines, there are all kinds of aquatic goodies in store. Craving meat? Carnivores love Zimbabwe’s legendary Colcom pork pies, tough-bodied chickens and goat meat galore. There is even a freezer entirely dedicated to giant snails.
If the selection seems overwhelming, friendly and knowledgeable staff are on hand to offer recommendations and recipes. Want to try before you buy? The store regularly organizes Covid-compliant tastings. The next such event will take place on June 16. Not in Johannesburg? Online options are also available. So what are you waiting for? A continent of delicacies awaits you and, until the real journey is back on the table, cooking across borders with Urban Ethnic Market is as good as it gets. DM / TGIFood
Urban ethnic market, boutique 8, Blackheath Pavilion, 309 Pendoring Road, Blackheath (Cresta). Call 011 029 5015
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This notice was published: 2021-06-11 06:57:43