Growing up in Khartoum, the capital city of North Sudan, Omer Eltigani has preserved his strong cultural ties to the country even after moving to London. The son of doctors who emigrated to the UK, he is now bringing love for his home culture to London in the form of classic Sudanese cuisine. Eltigani has spent the past few years compiling recipes to make a cookbook and fill the current shortage of Sudanese food in the London food scene. However, Eltigani’s ambitious venture doesn’t stop at just food. The cookbook project, called The Sudanese Kitchen, includes unique facts and stories about Sudan, as well as his firsthand experiences, to bring the country and its vibrant culinary traditions to life.
The idea for the project came about as Eltigani was at university, and he began to miss his mother’s cooking from home. Wanting to learn to create the recipes he knew and loved, Eltigani spent time with the women in his family, including his mother and aunts, and began to collect their recipes as well as their stories of Sudan. In Sudanese culture, it is considered somewhat taboo for men to be interested in cooking, and women bear the cooking responsibilities. Eltigani is turning this idea on its head and aiming to get men and all people, especially those unfamiliar with Sudanese culture, interested in learning to cook these traditional meals.
The Sudanese Kitchen’s website says that the cookbook project “preserves recipes passed down through generations and shares them to a wider audience; objectively educates the reader on the Sudan, its cuisine and cultures; appreciates Sudanese women for tirelessly making these delicious meals and supports their fight for equality.” The theme that persists throughout the project is the unique nature of Sudanese cooking, which Eltigani shows as full of love, community and individuality. Meals are tailored to personal taste and preference, including optional instructions for many recipes.
On the project’s website are a list of favourite recipes, from breads and stews to drinks and desserts. Among the favourite main meals are Sudanese falafel, called “Ta’mia,” which includes chickpeas, dill and seasoning that is deep fried; and lamb shank, a leg of lamb marinated in garlic, spices and herbs then slow roasted and served with garlic tomato sauce.
Culture and political occurrences in Sudan are just as important to the project as the food. The Sudanese Kitchen’s Instagram follows protests and government forces in the country, and offers resources for followers to show their support for Sudan. By actively working to inform London and beyond about Sudan, Omer Eltigani is raising awareness of the fascinating culture and cuisine of an often misunderstood and overlooked country. Keep an eye out for Eltigani’s upcoming book and pop-ups in London.
Words by Sara Frazier | Feature image via The Sudanese Kitchen