Bringing the flavors of Africa to Nashua
On Friday, Sept. 22, a VIP launch party was held for the opening of Jals Cuisine Bantu, Nashua’s first African restaurant. Jals Cuisine Bantu is an extension of Mola Foods, a food production company offering the flavors of Africa through spices, sauces, seasonings, teas, marinades and more.
“Mola Foods is a food production manufacturing company, and Jals Cuisine plays the role of showcasing our product with traditional cuisine of Africa,” said LaFortune Djabea, the founder of Mola Foods and Jals Cuisine Bantu. “Mola Foods creates products, and people want to know how to use these products in their cooking. That’s where Jals Cuisine comes into play [by] showcasing how you can utilize Mola Food products in your own cuisine.”
Born and raised in Cameroon, Djabea describes her native country as a melting pot of culture and cuisine from other African countries, such as Zambia, Congo, Nigeria and Ghana. Her grandmother was able to cook in a variety of styles. When a friend of Djabea’s asked her to create a hot sauce using her grandmother’s recipe, she was at first reluctant but eventually decided to accept the challenge, which led to the creation of Mola Foods and, in turn, Jals Cuisine Bantu.
“The flavor is completely traditional of African cuisine, so basically we are introducing a fusion cuisine with the bold flavors of Africa,” Djabea said. “People think African cuisine is spicy but it’s actually not. … If you want to make your food spicy then you add the sauce, but the food itself isn’t spicy, it just has a bunch of spices that people don’t use traditionally on their food here in America. In Africa we use a bunch of spices to bring out those flavors, bring out the boldness [and] the smell. … Whether you want it spicy or not is really based on what you’re looking for. At Jals Cuisine we don’t make food spicy, we give it a kick, and if you want it a little spicier then you’re welcome to utilize one of our hot sauces.”
Menu items include jollof, or thieboudienne, a traditional Senegalese dish consisting of rice, okra, yucca, assorted vegetables and your choice of meat; West African key lime pie; yassa, made with cauliflower or chicken, rice, onions, olives and lime; and fried plantains. Each meal can be made into a vegan option as well. You can dine in at the restaurant or order to take out, with pickup and delivery options available. Meal plan services are also offered.
“African cuisine, and Africa in general, is extremely not represented in Nashua whatsoever,” Djabea said. “It’s a wonderful cuisine [and] the world does not do it justice, and the reason the world doesn’t do African cuisine justice is because of the stigma surrounding Africa itself [and] African people … and that’s unfortunate. … I have made it my mission at Mola Foods and through Jals Cuisine to … repel the stigma … and make people understand that African cuisine is very approachable, delicious and is something that should be acclaimed with the rest of the cuisine.”
Jals Cuisine Bantu
9 Simon St., Nashua
When: Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, 11:30 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Saturday, 4 to 8 p.m.; closed Sunday, Monday and Tuesday
More info: 820-2543; jalscuisinebantu.molafoods.com
Featured photo: Courtesy photo.