African food is food which is indigenous to the African continent. These foods are typically starchy foods such as corn(maize), yam, manioc(cassava), vegetables such as okra and spinach cooked in different ways by the over 3000 different ethnic groups in Africa, African foods, stews and soups are generally very hot and spicy and are cooked with a variety of meats and fish.
African foods have been heavily influenced by western and Middle Eastern foods through the European colonialists and Middle East traders of the 19th and early 20th century.
Different parts of Africa have different methods of preparation and eating of their foods but a major similarity in the way most African foods are eaten is the use of the right hand to eat i.e. without eating utensils.
In Central Africa, Fufu made from cassava is the most popular food and is usually eaten with peanut (groundnut) soup. A rice porridge called Bambara spiced with peanut butter and sugar is also popular. As there is abundance of wildlife, wild animals such as monkeys, alligators, antelope, etc are usually hunted and used as meat.
East Africa has the largest population of wildlife in Africa hence game meat popularly called “bush meat” is a major part of East African cuisine. Some cultures in East Africa like the Masai in Kenya generally do not eat meat as animals are considered sacred. Most East African foods are made from maize, most popular among which is Ugali, a porridge made from maize, another popular East African dish is Matoke which is made from boiled green bananas or plantain.
The Horn of Africa which consists of Ethiopia, Eritrea, Djibouti and Somalia have few indigenous foods made from starchy foods such as corn and barley. The most popular food in this region is Injera which is a flat spongy bread served with stews such as tsebhis and wat with different types of meat. Another popular dish is akelet which is wheat flour porridge filled with berbere spice, butter sauce, milk or yoghurt.
Morocco, Algeria, Libya, Tunisia, Mauritania, and Egypt make up North Africa and North African dishes are almost completely influenced by Arabian or Middle Eastern dishes. Olives and Olive oil are used extensively in food preparation and spices such as saffron, cinnamon and ginger are also used commonly to prepare meals. The most popular North African dish is Couscous which is a semolina pasta prepared and eaten in many different ways, another is Tagine which is a slow cooked stew. Lamb meat and goat meat are common and pork and alcohol are prohibited by Islamic law.
Southern Africa cuisine is representative of many different cultures such as African, European and Asian. The major foodstuffs used in South African dishes are milk, grains and tubers. Barbecued or roasted meats such as Biltong, Braai and Boerewors are a major part of South African cuisine. Fruits such as apples, grapes, peaches, bananas, etc are also quite common and well consumed. Popular South African foods include Potjiekos, an Afrikaner vegetable stew. Pap en vies – a maize porridge served with grilled meat. There are also many locally brewed beers.
West African dishes are mostly made with starchy food items such as maize, yams, millet, potatoes, etc and are generally very spicy, peppery and tasty. Rice dishes are also commonplace with the most popular West African dish been Jollof Rice. Palm oil is used extensively in the preparation of most West African foods. Popular West African dishes include Maafe; a Senegalese groundnut stew, Fufu; boiled and pounded cassava dough, Kenkey; corn dumpling wrapped in banana leaves, Garri; fried cassava pellets which can be eaten with water and sugar or made into a dough and eaten with any soup or stew, Suya; roasted meat spiced with pepper and peanut sauce.
The most popular food in Africa is Jollof Rice which is rice boiled in tomato stew with ingredients such as green peas, carrots, chilli pepper, onions and either beef, chicken or fish, it is usually served with coleslaw. It is eaten in several West African countries each with their own version, the most popular among which are Nigerian Jollof Rice and Ghanaian Jollof Rice. Other popular foods include Ethiopian stew, Portuguese beans stew and West African Peanut stew.
Africa is not a country and hence does not have a national dish, different countries have their own national dishes such as Ful Medames in Egypt, Ndole in Cameroon and Injera in Ethiopia and Eritrea, etc.
Facts about African food/Traditional African food facts
Food varies from country to country and between ethnic groups in Africa but there are some similarities among the foods of most African tribes. African food is generally characterized by the following
Most African dishes are prepared mainly from grains and starchy foods which abound in Africa such as corn, yam, cassava (manioc), black eyed peas (beans) and are usually cooked with palm oil and either beef, goat meat, lamb, chicken or fish. African cuisines are usually very hot and spicy as they are cooked with hot peppers and other spices.
Now here are some facts about African foods:
- They are spicy: African foods are normally cooked with a variety of spices and flavours such as thyme, curry powder, ginger, garlic, nutmeg. ground crayfish, cloves, turmeric, cubed meat seasoning popularly called Maggi in Nigeria and a considerable quantity of salt.
- They are very tasty: African foods tend to be very tasty as they are cooked with a lot of ingredients and spices. Most Africans living abroad find it difficult to adjust to western foods due to this fact.
- They are fatty: As most African dishes are composed mainly of starchy foods which belong to the Carbohydrate family of foods which are very fatty.
- African foods are usually served with cooked or fried meat mostly beef, goat, chicken and mutton.
- Vegetables are a major part of many African dishes especially soups and stews, some examples are okra, tomatoes, spinach, etc.
- Fruits eaten in Africa include mangoes, papaya (pawpaw), banana, plantain, cucumber, coconut, apricots, watermelon, oranges and cashew.
- Cooking: African foods are usually cooked by boiling foodstuff and ingredients in a pot for long periods of time usually over 1 hour.
Popular African foods include Jollof Rice, Couscous, Maboke, etc.
Top 10 Best African foods
Africa is a land blessed with so many human and natural resources as well as very good food, sadly very little is known about African foods outside Africa. This article gives the list of best foods in Africa, make sure you taste these awesome dishes if you visit Africa. The list is not arranged in any particular order.
- Jollof Rice – West Africa
This is the most popular food in Africa as it is consumed throughout West Africa and other parts of Africa. It is made with rice cooked in tomato stew or sauce with various ingredients and spices such as peppers, onions, green peas, carrots, cabbage; It is usually served with coleslaw and various types of meats or fish.
- Muamba de Galinha – Angola
This is a national food in the oil rich state of Angola, it is a spicy stew made with chicken, palm oil, spices and other ingredients. It is usually served with cooked rice.
- Pap en vleis – South Africa
Pap en vleis is a popular South African maize porridge served with meat, the meat is usually roasted or stewed. It is usually eaten with roast meat called Shisa nyama. It can also be eaten with Boerewors – A South African sausage, chicken, steak or kebab.
- Sadza and Kapenta – Zimbabwe
Sadza is a Zimbabwean maize porridge and is usually served with crisply fried small freshwater fish called Kapenta. The fish are found in Lake Tangayika and Lake Kariba. Kapenta is usually spiced up to awesome deliciousness with tomatoes, onions and peanut powder. The dish is traditionally eaten with bare hands.
- Bunny chow – South Africa
Bunny Chow is simply bread filled with hot meat and vegetable sauce and is best found in the South African city of Durban.
- Pounded Yam and Egusi Soup – Nigeria
This Nigerian delicacy is capable of making you bite your tongue. Pounded yam as the name suggests is yam which has been cooked to softness, then pounded in a mortar with a pestle till it reaches a soft, smooth dough like consistency. It is usually served with a variety of soups but the best among them is Egusi soup which is made with melon seeds, spinach, other vegetables and either meat or fish.
- Piri Piri chicken – Mozambique
This is delicious grilled chicken covered in piri-piri sauce made with tomato, coconuts, cashews and peanuts.
- Biryanis and Pilaus – Zanzibar
Biryanis and Pilaus are rice dishes cooked in various ways using vegetables, meat and seafood. They are usually spiced with various spices such as cardamom, pepper and cumin. They are usually eaten with Kachumbari – a delicious tomato and onion salad.
- Ful medames – Egypt
Ful Medames is a national dish in Egypt and is made with fava beans cooked with spices and olive oil. The beans are cooked overnight and usually served for breakfast with eggs and pita bread.
- B’stilla – Morocco
Also known as pastilla au pigeon, it is a sweet pie made with shredded squab or chicken cooked with egg sauce and has very thin pastry filling in-between.
Best Central African Foods
Africa is made up of different regions namely West Africa, Southern Africa, North Africa, East Africa and North Africa. Central Africa is made up of the following countries; Burundi, the Central African Republic, Chad, Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Rwanda. There are many different foods in Central Africa and this article gives the list of best foods to try if you visit Central Africa.
Fufu: This is a popular dish of Central Africa and is also very common in West Africa. It is made by boiling cassava (manioc) flour in water to form a thick paste and then pounding it with a mortar and pestle, the fufu is then eaten with the local soup of your choice.
Peanut soup: In Africa, peanuts are called Groundnuts and this stew is a delicacy not only in Central Africa but all over Africa. It is made with roasted peanuts or peanut butter, tomatoes, onions, garlic, and vegetables and served with rice, couscous, etc.
Makara : This is a very popular homemade fried bread in Central Africa.
Chichinga: Skewered roasted goat meat
Foutou: This is made with pounded plantain or yam flour and served with stews or soups
Boullie: This is rice porridge with peanut butter and lemon added.
Gozo: Cassava is ground into flour and cooked to form a paste.
Kanda ti nyma: Beef made into spicy meatballs
Muama de galinha: Chicken soup cooked with okra and palm oil
Palm butter soup: This is a soup cooked with palm butter
Maboké: Maboke is probably the best Central African food. It is made up of steamed fish with onions, garlic, tomatoes and chili heated in banana leaves.
Best West African foods
West African countries namely Nigeria, Ghana, Benin Republic, Mali, Togo, Ivory Coast, Niger, Liberia have very rich cultures and many delicious foods. The best among them arranged in no particular order are:
- Jollof Rice
If you haven’t tasted Jollof Rice, you need to add it to your bucket list. This delicious West African dish always leaves the eater salivating for more. It is the most popular food in West Africa and even Africa as a whole and each West African country has modified it to suit their taste. It is made with rice, tomato paste, hot pepper, ground fish powder and laced with onions. It can be eaten alone or with coleslaw and no West African celebration is complete without Jollof!
- Kenkey and Fish
This morning meal can light up and brighten your whole day. Kenkey is a dumpling made with corn and is wrapped in banana leaves, it is eaten best with any fish and oil goes perfectly with any oily fish.
This is a Sierra Leonean food made with groundnuts, potato leaves, fish or meat. There is also the Ghanaian plasa which makes use of coco yam leaves.
- Superkanja soup
This is a Gambian soup made with okra fruit and its leaves, many ingredients are used to make it very tasty, other West African countries have similar soups.
- Eddoe soup
Cocoyams are pounded, dipped into palm oil and transformed into a sweet, smooth and thick paste in this popular Liberian dish.
Melon seeds are grounded and cooked with spinach, fish, meat and a variety of other ingredients to produce one of the most wonderful soups the world has ever known.
- Pounded Yam
This awesome Nigerian dish is made by boiling yams to the point where they become soft and then pounding the yams in a mortar with a pestle till it becomes a smooth, soft and succulent dough. It can be eaten with basically any soup.
This mouth watering dish is from Senegal and is made with rice, fish and tomato sauce. Any vegetable of choice can be added to give it extra flavor and taste.
This alluring protein filled dish is made by washing the outer skin of beans in water and then grinding it with pepper and onions. The paste is then poured into small polythene bags, tins and sometimes leaves and cooked till it gets hard. Fish, egg, liver and other foods can be added to the paste before cooking to give it a wonderful extra flavor.
Fufu is a dish made from cassava (manioc) paste which is first boiled and then pounded to a soft delicious dough. It can be eaten with a vast variety of soups. It is a staple food in many countries of West Africa.
- Banga soup
Made with palm fruits, this delicious Nigerian dish is as healthy as food gets with lots of vitamins and minerals. Lots of fish, snail and periwinkle are added and it is usually eaten with solid starch.
This is an extremely delicious Ghanaian groundnut soup made with peanut butter and garnished with chicken, winter vegetables and pepper.
- Yam Porridge
West African yam porridge is the Holy Grail of porridges. Yams are usually boiled and mashed in a soup made with palm oil, hot peppers, tomatoes and onions. Fish, chicken or other meat are added to make it irresistible.
Spinach or other edible vegetables are cut into small pieces and cooked in palm oil or tomato stew, crayfish, fish and meat are added to make it very tasty. It is usually eaten with Pounded Yam, Fufu or Tuwo.
- Ogbono soup
Ogbono soup is made with nuts from the Ogbono tree. The nuts are ground and cooked in palm oil together with vegetables such as spinach, tomatoes, pepper with fish and meat to make an incredibly delicious soup.
- Tuwo Shinkafa and Miyan Kuka
Tuwo Shinkafa or Rice dough is a popular food among the Hausa/Fulani people of Northern Nigeria, Niger and Mali. It is made by grinding rice into flour and then cooking it in boiling water till it forms a solid paste.
It is served with Miyan Kuka which is a black coloured soup made from the powder of the grinded leaves of the Kuka tree with ingredients such as crayfish, hot pepper etc. Fish and meat are usually added to the soup and it is very delicious.
Best East African foods
East Africa is a beautiful place with lots of tourist attractions including the famous Lake Victoria and Mount Kilimanjaro, there is a lot of wildlife in East Africa with animals such as elephants, rhinoceros, leopards, lions and water buffalos, they also have very good food the best of which will be discussed below. East Africa is made up of the following countries: Somalia, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi and Rwanda.
East African dishes are made mainly from grains such as sorghum, rice, yam, maize, beans, etc.
Lahoh or Canjeera in Somalia, Chapati in Kenya and Uganda: This is probably the most common east African food. It is specially baked spongy, pancake like bread which is eaten with vegetable soup or sour porridge. In Kenya, it is eaten with uji soup.
Githeri: This is a Kenyan food made with corn and beans or mashed potatoes.
Basmati rice: This is rice cooked and eaten with vegetable stews with fish or meat.
Kuku Paka: This delicious delicacy is a made with of chicken coconut curry and is served with rice.
Cambuulo: This Somalian dish is made with beans boiled for up to 5 hours to make it tender, sugar and butter served with bread or rice.
Kachumbari: This is a popular fresh tomato and onion salad common among the people of East Africa.
Mandazi: Mandazi is a fluffy fried bread which is easy to make and can be eaten alone or with any food or soup.
Biryanis and Pilaus: These are very tasty rice dishes with Indian origins popular among the East Africans.
Obusuma/Ugali: This is a Kenyan delicacy made from maize flour continuously stirred in boiling water to form a thick dough.
Nyama Choma: This is meat roasted the delicious East African way.
Matoke: Is a meal which is made with steamed green bananas or plantains and is one of Uganda’s national dish.
Mugoyo: Mugoyo is a Uganda delicacy prepared with sweet potatoes and beans. The sweet potatoes are cooked in banana leaves and the beans are boiled separately with some ingredients, the two are then mixed to form the delicious food.
Best North African foods
Bisteeya is the most sophisticated and elaborate Moroccan dish, a combination of incredibly tasty flavors. It is a huge pie of the thinnest, flakiest pastry, filled with three layers—spicy pieces of pigeon or chicken, lemony eggs cooked in a savory onion sauce and toasted, sweetened almonds.
Harissa paste, a mixture of sun-dried peppers pounded with spices and garlic and packed into jars under a coating of oil. This thick, red, fiery sauce is a pillar of the Tunisian kitchen.
Moroccan tagines are stews of meat, poultry or fish smothered with one or two vegetables or fruits (sometimes reduced), and cooked in an earthenware dish with a conical cover. Djej Emshmel is one of the four versions of Moroccan chicken, lemon and olive tagine, in which the chicken is slowly simmered with luscious olives and tart preserved lemons in a sauce seasoned with saffron, cumin, ginger and paprika.
Tunisian tagines are different. Tunisian cooks, when speaking of tagines, will refer to them having a “beginning, a “middle and an “end. The “beginning is usually a mini-stew of veal or lamb cut into small pieces and cooked with onions and spices such as dried rosebuds and cinnamon or a robust combination of ground coriander and caraway. Then something starchy is added to thicken the juices—white beans, chick peas or cubed potatoes.
The “middle part is the enrichment of the stew with cheese and eggs. The “end is the final baking in a deep pie dish either on the stove or in the oven until both top and bottom are crisply cooked and the eggs are just set, somewhat like an Italian frittata.
Ful Mudammas. Fava beans are slowly cooked and mixed with a variety of spices and vegetables, including cumin, garlic, tomatoes, onions and carrots. It is eaten as a stew for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Briks are Tunisia’s most popular hot appetizers. It is the Tunisian snack par excellance—a delicious pastry triangle stuffed in innumerable ways
The Tunisian bread shaskoukhet/Moroccan trid are made in the same way. This bread is prepared during the holy month of ramadan. In Morocco it is said to be the prophet Mohammed’s favorite dish. The bread is torn into small pieces and piled into a cone shape. The cook then pours a paprika-scented chicken stew around it. In Morocco, pieces of chicken are layered in the torn leaves.
Couscous is probably the most famous dish of northern Africa. It has been called the national dish of Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia. An average family eats it approximately three times a week.
The couscous concept is simple yet brilliant. Take a container with a perforated bottom, fill it with semolina-based pellets and place it above a bubbling stew. The steam from the stew will swell the grains and flavor them with its vapors. When served together—the couscous and the stew—the result is extraordinary.
The Tunisians have developed a number of ways of making couscous with fish—a particularly fine one prepared in Djerba is made in an unusual three-tiered steamer. On the middle tier are slices of bluefish embedded in a mixture of chopped mint, parsley, Swiss chard and fennel leaves and steamed over a cinnamon-and-cumin-scented broth, while the couscous, cooking in solitary splendor on top, absorbs the flavors from the tiers below.
Many modern couscous dishes are spicy, with lots of fiery peppers and a combination of ground coriander, cumin and garlic. Older recipes are mellow and exotic, often made with quince, raisins and a curious blend of dried rosebuds, black pepper and ground cinnamon called bharat. Also popular is a combination of the two recipes.
North Africans, from Morocco to Egypt, often finish a meal with a charming presentation of mint tea embellished with a few floating pinenuts to impart a mildly resinous aroma.
The most distinctive of the cooked salads is mechouia, which means “grilled: a mildly hot, spicy salad of roasted peppers, tomatoes, onions and garlic, often accompanying couscous, other salads and slices of country-style bread
Umm Ali: Umm Ali is a delicious traditional Egyptian dessert equivalent to North America’s bread pudding. You can serve it warm with a scoop of French vanilla ice cream.
Marrakesh Vegetable Curry: This curry is full of veggies: sweet potato, eggplant, spinach, zucchini, red and green bell peppers, carrots, and onion. It’s mixed with blanched almonds, chickpeas, raisins, and spices. Serve with brown rice or couscous
Moroccan Lamb Kabobs: Pitas stuffed with this spicy grilled lamb will make your mouth water! Serve with fresh greens and tzaziki sauce
Méchoui is a North African dish that consists of a whole sheep or a lamb spit-roasted on a barbecue.