african dining hall expo 2020
The pan-African menu of the dining hall takes culinary delights from various regions of the continent | Above: Bacalhau, a dried salted cod dish enjoyed in Angola. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: African dining hall Alkebulan will make its debut at Expo 2020 Dubai, showcasing African food and culture through a colourful culinary lens. Capturing the essence of Africa, it will transport visitors on a journey into the continent’s cultural diversity and gastronomy scenes, bringing together people, communities and countries.

Alkebulan (pronounced al-kee-boulan) – the oldest name for Africa and translating to ‘Mother of Mankind’ or ‘Garden of Eden’ – is a culinary concept curated by award-winning chef Alexander Smalls, a classically trained opera singer-turned-restaurateur. The dining hall is a celebration of African cuisine designed as a showcase of contemporary African food and music from across the continent. Each counter and concept has its own unique design that honours the individuality of the region, cuisine and chef.

alexander smalls
Alkebulan is curated by Chef Alexander Smalls, who will lead seven acclaimed African chefs and their 10 counters at the hall Image Credit: Supplied

Chef Alexander Smalls said: “African food is as diverse as the continent’s countries and communities, yet it is still under-represented in the world. Bringing a piece of Africa to Expo 2020 is not only a dream come true, but also an opportunity to showcase the rich diversity that makes African cuisine unique from region to region. Food and music are both instrumental to our culture, and Alkebulan is a place that marries the two, welcoming visitors from around the world to be immersed in our flavours and traditions.”


A sneak peek into the Alkebulan menu

Alkebulan's 7 acclaimed chefs will give diners the chance to experience gourmet dishes, street bites and fusion fare, all in one destination. The food hall hosts 10 counters, with each providing a different menu:

  1. Afro Street Eatery by Coco delivers rich aromatic flavours of West African street food, with dishes such as Ugandan-style miniature chapatti wrap filled with beef or vegetable curry.
  2. Bar Cane, also by Coco, satisfies sweet cravings, serving what could well be the world’s finest doughnuts, washed down with dessert drinks.
  3. Chicken Coop by Alexander Smalls celebrates the humble chicken in two of its best forms: rotisserie and fried. The triple-fried Tunisian baharat chicken, paired with a thick, custardy Belgian waffle, is not to be missed.
  4. Choma BBQ, another Coco creation, is inspired by the art of roasting, grilling and smoking meats, with a menu that includes Zanzibari spiced rice and lamb, served with kachumbari salad, as well as Kenyan style beef skewers served with roasted green bananas.
  5. Jiko Cocktails by Tribe Hotel Kenya brings the flavours and spirits of Africa together through shaken, stirred, muddled and strained beverages created by Kelvin Thaiya.
  6. Penja by award-winning pop-up chefs Pierre Siewe, Glory Kabe and Moos Gbane promises innovative African cuisine and a world-class culinary experience from Cameroon and Benin, featuring dishes such as farm cockerel breaded with mustard and tapioca, tandoori vegetal mayonnaise fermented cassava semolina.
  7. Seven Seafood by Chef Kiran Jethwa offers a contemporary look at East African seafood using ingredients, flavours and combinations from the region to take traditional Kenyan cuisine into the modern world.
  8. Shoebox Bakery by Mame Sow offers the ultimate pan-African bakery experience, spanning both sweet and savoury items, including Ethiopian injera flat bread.
  9. Sweet Ophelia’s also by Smalls is an Afro-Asian wok bar that serves tasty rice, noodle and dumpling dishes, including West African favourite Cameroonian pepper fish.
  10. The Tasty Goat from Jethwa showcases nose-to-tail dining of this fantastic and versatile meat, combined with the tastes, textures and flavours of modern East African cuisine.
african dining hall expo 2020
Chotlo pie, a delicacy of the Botswana people filled with shredded beef Image Credit: Supplied

Marjan Faraidooni, Chief Experience Officer, Expo 2020 Dubai, said: “Food brings people and communities together – at a time when we need it most. In the spirit of Expo 2020’s theme, ‘Connecting Minds, Creating the Future’, we have invited countries from around the world to showcase their national dishes, giving visitors the chance to taste traditional and specialised food from around the globe in a safe environment. We are very excited to welcome the African continent to Expo, and for our visitors to sample new flavours and concepts – the likes of which have yet to be seen in the UAE.”

At Expo 2020, countries from around the world will showcase their national dishes, giving visitors the opportunity to taste traditional and specialised cuisines from more than 200 different outlets.