A Blend of Cultural Influences Flavor East African Products

ring-top-displayHarkiss Designs brings the talent of East African artisans, manifest in our beautiful accessories and home deco, to new markets in the U.S., Canada, and other areas that have never had the opportunity to indulge in the textures, colors, and designs of this exotic corner of the world.

Our bags, totes, sandals, hats, and purses are crafted from sustainable materials indigenous to the East African countries of their origins.  Bark cloth, banana fiber, palm leaf, and sisal are just some of the fibers incorporated in Harkiss Designs that are harvested without harming their growing plant sources.

Just like the availability of local fiber sources guides the designer’s hand, climatic differences in a large part determine the supply of available local produce that make up each area’s diet, but the flavors and preferences of foreign residents over the centuries play an important role as well.

The influence of Arabian immigrants from more than 1000 years ago remain in coastal regions of East Africa, with such exotic spices as saffron, cloves, and cinnamon flavoring many of the dishes.

The heritage of British and East Indian occupations over the intervening centuries remain in the spicy curries, lentil soups, and pickles favored in some East African communities today.

Ring-displayPortuguese immigrants left a legacy of cooking techniques such as marinating, roasting and stewing meat, as well as providing an influx of previously unknown delicacies such as citrus fruits, peppers, maize, tomatoes, and pineapple.

In Uganda, the mainstays of the standard diet are vegetables, potatoes, yams, and local tropical fruit.  The most common meat dishes include chicken, fish, beef, goat or mutton, and many popular main dishes are served with sauces that incorporate groundnuts (peanuts) or beans. Ugali, made from maize meal, millet, or cassava flour, is one of the primary starches in many Ugandan’s diets.

Agriculture in the richly endowed East African countries strongly influences both the population’s food choices and the products that communities craft in the rich artisan traditions of the region.  And in the same way that East African cuisine includes the flavors of a diverse heritage, Harkiss Designs merge a centuries-old handcraft tradition with the modern design influences of a shrinking planet.

2 Responses to “A Blend of Cultural Influences Flavor East African Products”

  1. Harriet Zaffoni March 5, 2014 at 9:52 PM

    Dear Tanie,
    Thanks for reading the articles and please don’t hesitate to follow us on Facebook as well @
    As far as where to find similar blogs, I’m sorry to say that I have no idea at this time. However, I will have my team do some research and get back to you.

    Thanks again

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