‘The Star Ingredient’: Euronews’ new culinary podcast exploring Africa's hidden flavours

The Star Ingredient Podcast
The Star Ingredient Podcast Copyright Euronews
Copyright Euronews
By Euronews
Share this articleComments
Share this articleClose Button

In a world where our global food systems are under threat, meet the African chefs and communities who are turning to their traditional foods to strengthen their food security. Embark on a culinary journey across Africa that will tickle your taste buds.


Fonio, sorghum, teff… Did you know that Africa has more indigenous grains than any other continent?

This information may come as a surprise, buried as it is under the stories we are perhaps more used to hearing about the continent’s struggles with malnourishment and food insecurity.

But in fact, Africa is a cornucopia full of nutritious, versatile and, frankly, delicious indigenous foods - ones that could each play a vital role in fostering more resilient food systems on the continent.

In an increasingly fractured world, where supply shocks and events like the war in Ukraine disrupt wheat imports and threaten the smooth functioning of our global food system, these local treasures are key for communities to thrive.

That’s precisely the topic of Euronews’ brand new podcast, launching 28 October.

Discover “The Star Ingredient”, a documentary cooking show hosted by Euronews journalist, Tokunbo Salako, that will take you on a culinary tour across Africa and Europe.

There we’ll meet the chefs and local communities on a mission to recover and revive these indigenous ingredients.

Subscribe to The Star Ingredient:

Listen to all The Star Ingredient episodes

1 - Cooking with fonio, the ‘miracle grain’ that aspires to become Africa's quinoa

Halfway between couscous and quinoa, fonio is Africa's oldest cultivated grain. It matures quickly in one of the poorest and driest soils on the planet. It's also gluten-free and extremely nutritious. So why doesn't it sound familiar? Why has it fallen into oblivion?

In this episode, award-winning Senegalese chef, Pierre Thiam, shares two of his favourite fonio recipes with us and tells us why he has made it his life's mission to make the world fall in love with this “miracle grain."

2 - Cooking with Bambara Groundnut - an indigenous, African superfood

Bambara Groundnut is something of a superstar amongst relegated African crops. Known as a ‘complete food’, it’s versatile, hardy in marginal soils and highly resistant to adverse climate conditions.

In this episode, we’re travelling to Nigeria to meet two women determined to put this overlooked bean on top of the menu, at home and around the world.

3 - Edie Mukiibi: Can agroecology feed the world?

“Many people think African agriculture, the traditional systems, are backward or primitive, but these are the systems which are feeding people in Africa”.

These are the words of Edie Mukiibi, a farmer, agronomist and activist from Uganda and our guest for the third episode of The Star Ingredient podcast. 

Edie, who is in his early 30s, represents a new generation of energetic thinkers in the food system. In this episode, Edie will recount the path his life has taken - from growing up on a humble farm in rural Uganda to leading a global food justice movement active in 160 countries.

4 - Sorghum, a forgotten ancestral grain from Burundi

In this episode, we’re travelling to the remote Burundian village of Ruhagarika to meet Jeanne Cimpaye, a woman who discovered sorghum at a refugee camp in a foreign land and used this forgotten ancestral grain to thrive during the most difficult times of her life.

Jeanne will also share her recipe of the traditional Burundian beers ikiyama and impeke.

5 - Cooking with acorns: how foraging can be a buffer in times of crisis

Acorns are thought of as food for pigs or squirrels in most cultures. However, it is a highly nutritious, and delicious, ingredient which nature makes available to us at zero cost – like many other wild foods. And knowing how to cook them can help us through times of scarcity.


In this episode, we take a detour to Europe to trek through the forests of Italy with chef Eleonora Matarrese, known as La Cuoca Selvatica – the Wild Cook – to explore how foraging can play its part in a more resilient food chain.

6 - How financial speculation creates hunger in low-income countries

Award winning filmmaker and journalist Stefano Liberti, joins us for this episode of The Star Ingredient to talk about how globalisation and financialisation can pose a challenge to the worldwide food system.

7 - Lesotho: This Chef is saving Basotho cuisine from disappearing

Seen as food for the poor, traditional Basotho dishes aren't as popular in Lesotho as their Italian or American counterparts. As a result, the country's own food culture is fast disappearing.

In this episode, we meet chef Ska Moteane, the first chef to have published a cookbook dedicated to Basotho cuisine and who is committed to bringing traditional flavours back to the table. 

8 - Soumbala, a Burkinabé flavour powerhouse

The first thing that hits you is the smell. The pea-sized néré pods from the néré tree or African Locust Bean as it’s known in English, may be small but they pack a powerful punch.


And once transformed into mouth-watering soumbala, they’re a crucial addition to a host of traditional meals eaten all across West Africa.

We’ll be hearing all about soumbala and more in this episode of the Star Ingredient, where we’re travelling to Burkina Faso to meet a devoted champion of Burkinabé traditional cuisine, Franceline Tranagda.

9 - Creating Sitopia: a city built around food

In modern cities, we rarely know the full story of our food: where it comes from, how it is produced, and how it can affect our environment. 

In this episode of The Star Ingredient, we travelled to London to meet two women, Carolyn Steel and Chloё Dunnett, who are working to enhance food security by bringing food production to the core of our urban centres. 

Carolyn is an architect who came up with the concept of Sitopia, a perfect place built around food, and Chloё is a farmer who is creating it. 


10 - Cowpea, a truly Senegalese ingredient for decolonizing street food

Cowpea or niébé is an essential ingredient in Senegalese street food. Branded as ‘food for the poor’ by the colonists, the cowpea has long been neglected by African countries. But chef Fati Niang is determined to give niébé a comeback as a popular legume used to flavour fancy finger food recipes like accras.

11 - Ethiopia: Reviving teff's ancient roots through modern farming

Teff is the star ingredient of Ethiopian cuisine and it’s essential for the delicious chechebsca, a traditional breakfast dish in the country. This small grain can withstand harsh climate conditions and is mostly produced in the Horn of Africa. However, political and economic instability in Ethiopia has limited the country’s ability to benefit from its production. Aggravating the situation is the issue of biopiracy, a topic we delve into in this episode.

In Ethiopia, we meet Yonas Alemu to discover his business Love Grass. Put on your headphones to discover how the company wants to modernize teff production and restore the grain to its origins.

The hidden treasures of forgotten foods

Our new show will take you inside the home of renowned chef, Pierre Thiam, to cook with fonio, the ‘West African miracle grain’.


From there, we will navigate the teeming bustle of a Lagos food market with Nigeria’s budding culinary star, chef Moyo Odunfa. She’ll be hunting for the best bambara groundnuts and talking up her mission to put Nigerian food on the haute cuisine map.

Lagos Food Market
Lagos Food MarketEuronews

And that is not all! Along the way we will travel to rural Burundi, to share a meal with the communities that venerate sorghum, a nutrient dense, gluten-free grain that could easily rival quinoa.

We’ll follow chef Ska Moteane as she journeys through Lesotho, continuing her life’s work sourcing and recording her country’s traditional recipes that are in danger of being lost.

Taking a detour to Europe, we’ll trek through the forests of Italy with chef Eleonora Matarrese, to explore how foraging can play its part in more resilient food systems.

These are just some of the personalities and foodies that will accompany you as we take a close and mouth-watering look at food; the red thread connecting not only our health and survival, but connecting us also to our culture, our habits, and our identity.


And if that’s not enough? Each episode will arm you with a unique recipe featuring one of our chosen star ingredients, so you can join in the fun, pull out the pots and pans, and whip up a show-stopper meal when you’re done listening.

A food market in Lagos
A food market in LagosEuronews

Subscribe to The Star Ingredient on your favourite podcast app or find it on or from October 28.

This project was funded by the European Journalism Centre, through the Solutions Journalism Accelerator. This fund is supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Share this articleComments

You might also like