An African salad is a rich blend of vegetables, fruits, cheese, cooked meat, eggs, cured meat, grains, seeds, and nuts. Typically, they are served cold—notwithstanding that some of the components are cooked. In some parts of Africa, salad is a luxury that you will only find on special occasions. However, judging by the rich nutritional content of salad, it should be an everyday meal. Some African salad variants contain all six classes of foods.
There are a few components that you will find on all variants of African salad. However, some ingredients are peculiar to salads from certain regions of Africa. The reason is partly that some of the ingredients are only available in certain parts of the continent. Therefore, different regions usually innovate with the ingredients available to them.
Arguably, an African salad is one of the simplest, nutritious, and delicious foods to prepare. However, you should make no mistake, chopping the different components is time-consuming. Today, we want to expose you to amazing African salad recipes you can make using ingredients in your kitchen or garden, or local market.
What are the types of salad?
There are five popular types of salad recipes. The salad variants are usually named after the predominant ingredient they contain. Some African salad recipes incorporate special ingredients only available in that country. Here are the most common types of salads.
- Green salads: also popular as garden salads consist mostly of fresh green-leaf vegetables as the core ingredients.
- Fruit salads: made of sliced, chopped, or diced fruits mixed together for the perfect daytime snack. It is both refreshing and delicious.
- Rice and pasta salads: have a base of rice or pasta and are most popular in Asian countries.
- Bound salads: are salads bound together using a thick sauce, for example, mayonnaise.
- Dinner salads: these are salads made with more carbohydrates or proteins and can be eaten as a main course for meals, e.g., dinner.
- Dessert salads: rarely include green leaf ingredients and are mainly sweet.
What are the elements of a quality African salad?
Whatever the ingredients may contain, there are qualities of African salad that remain the same throughout the continent. This distinct feature is what makes you crave more after a taste. Below are some of the unique elements of an African salad.
- The freshness of the ingredients: The most fundamental key in creating a fantastic salad is fresh ingredients. It is paramount to use the freshest ingredients possible to bring out their flavors.
- Compatibility of the ingredients: How well do the ingredients complement each other? Ingredients should go well together, improving or accentuating each other’s flavors
- Physical appeal: Ensure your salad is appealing to the eye. The visual appeal is what draws people to want to take a bite.
What are the four essential parts of an African salad?
An average salad is made up of four core parts. The first is the base or underliner. It mainly consists of leafy green vegetables. The second part is the body. This incorporates the main ingredient of the salad. Thirdly, we have the garnish, which includes parts of the salad used to decorate it, adding color and appeal, sometimes flavor. Finally, the dressing, which is liquid or semi-liquid used to improve taste, moisten, or enrich the salad (palatability and appearance).
What veggies go in an African salad?
When making a salad, you will need to ensure the vegetables you use are nutritious, aromatic, and flavorful. Although most—if not all vegetables—can be used in a salad, the most common salad vegetables include broccoli, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, cucumbers, endive, escarole, green onions, lettuce, mushrooms, peas, bell peppers, chili peppers, radishes, romaine, spinach, and tomatoes.
12 variations of African salads
1. Timatim (Ethiopian tomato salad) by International Cuisine
Timatim is a delightful little tomato side salad often served on top of Injera in Ethiopian and Eritrean cuisine. It is also a welcome bite after the very spicy wat dishes. This is oftentimes made with the injera bread ripped up and added to the tomato salad and served for leftovers. It is also called firfir when served like that.
2. Omek Houria Tunisian Spicy Carrot Salad by How to Cook
The Omek Houria recipe is a well-known Tunisian recipe that literally means your mom (Omek) the fairy (Houria).
On a spicy basis, this carrot recipe is a childhood memory that we used to savor by calling it the carrot salad of “your mother who stings (nt)” because of the harissa which gives to this dish all its power.
Even today, a follower of this very particular version of Omek Houria, I suggest you here to share with you the recipe of my childhood, simple and unlike other variants, the lighter recipe of this carrot salad… spicy.
There are several variations of this Tunisian recipe from Omek Houria (or Ommek Houria) but only one from “your mother who stings”!
The personal version that I offer is tasty when it is prepared as a family with the children who will then remember their efforts (in particular to crush the carrots) and the irreplaceable flavors of the carrot of mom who stings!
In those 7 steps, this salad will delight your taste buds.
3. Tunisian grilled salad with Tuna (Salata Mishwiya) by Global Table Adventure
Usually, the food we grill stays whole. We put it on a bun, or we eat it with our hands. But today’s Tunisian Grilled Salad takes a different approach. The charred vegetables – peppers, onion, tomatoes – are pulsed together into a chunky mixture, then served with flaked tuna, and hard boiled egg.
This salad has body.
Much of the intensity comes off the grill, from the raw garlic, hot chili peppers, and the caraway seeds, all of which can be tempered to taste.
Please, please, please… let this salad meld for at least an hour before eating.
This will give the bite time to mellow.
4. Kachumbari (Kenyan fresh tomato and onion salad) by Curious Cuisiniere
Kachumbari is a light and fresh tomato and onion salad that makes for a perfect summer side dish to pair with your grilled meats! This salad with a Swahili name is popular as a side dish or condiment for summer-time grilled meats and rice dishes.
Kachumbari is a fresh tomato and onion salad that is popular in East Africa, particularly in Kenya, but also in Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, and Uganda.
Also, Kachumbari really is such a simple dish that is perfectly bursting with summer flavors. Tomatoes, onions, avocado, and chili peppers come together, flavored with a light lime juice and cilantro dressing.
With so few ingredients, each one shines forth like a bright and crisp reminder of warm weather and fresh flavors.
5. Azifa (Ethiopian lentil salad) by Adamant Kitchen
Azifa is an Ethiopian green lentil dish that combines lentils with lime juice, mild hot peppers, and spices. It’s served cold as a light snack and is especially popular during lent when meat is prohibited.
Since it’s completely vegetarian, Azifa is served during lent as an easy snack with injera, or as the book says “with lettuce and tomatoes and cottage cheese for a light snack.” Choose mild chili peppers for just a bit of heat, or go with hot peppers if that’s your preference.
6. Eritrean spicy tomato bread salad with yogurt (Fata) by Savuer
In the Horn of Africa, they serve a version of panzanella tossed not with fresh tomatoes, but with a rich, spicy tomato stew. Crusty bread soaks up the juices and cooling yogurt provides contrast and sweet relief.
7. Moroccan Salad Zaalouk by Cookilicious
Zaalouk is one of the most basic salads of Moroccan cuisine and there are a million ways of preparing it all across Morocco. The recipe varies from home to home.
Being a salad it's often served at the beginning of the meal or as a vegan dip but it can also accompany grilled meats or fish, kebabs, or tagines.
Zaalouk is a simple yet delicious Mediterranean vegetarian recipe, prepared with smoked eggplants and Moroccan spices. Serve it as a vegan dip, salad, or side!
Zaalouk is naturally vegan and gluten-free and can be made in 30 minutes.
When it comes to spices, they are mainly used to brighten up the dish and make the Mediterranean flavors stand out.
This grilled eggplant salad is chunky, saucy, and full of flavors. Just like a ratatouille!
8. Taktouka by My Moroccan Food
Taktouka is literally one of my favorite Moroccan salads! I feel bad for saying that because I say that for sooo many dishes but really, this salad is such a treat! On top of that, it is very healthy, satisfying and so easy to prepare. The grilled bell peppers add a delicate smokiness to the salad that is perfectly balanced by the natural sweetness of the tomatoes.
I love eating it the Moroccan way by dipping some bread into the taktouka but it is also great in a sandwich, as a spread or as a side dish next to a grilled meat or fish.
Depending on where you live, the tomatoes might be less or more sweet, if your tomatoes are quite naturally sweet (the way they are in Morocco!) discard the caster sugar from the recipe.
9. Tunisian Grilled Mechouia salad by Slow Burning Passion
Mechouia salad is a simple but delicious grilled vegetable salad from Tunisia. Charred onions, peppers, tomatoes, and garlic are coarsely chopped, salted and seasoned, and drizzled with olive oil. There’s probably some fresh herbs served on top. By itself, it’s a perfect vegan dish.
However, it’s usually garnished with hard-boiled eggs, or olives, or a piece of fish (tuna)–or perhaps some combination of the three–added in moderation a la the Mediterranean style. In fact, in my view, Mechouia salad is pretty much the quintessence of the Mediterranean diet in a single dish. Most of the healthful usual suspects are there. This is definitely the way to eat!
10. Abacha Ncha, African Salad by The Pretend Chef
Abacha, also called African Salad, jigbo, is made from processed shredded cassava tuber. It is a popular dish from the eastern part of Nigeria. Abacha Ncha, African Salad is served as a snack or main meal to visitors at home, weddings, or parties and besides the Nigerian jollof rice, Abacha is arguably the next best dish out of Nigeria.
The dish Abacha, an African salad, derives its name from the unprepared ingredient which is sold wet or dehydrated (dry) already processed. I used to do the processing myself but it is so tedious, the peeling, boiling, slicing or grating, soaking, etc, you are better off buying the already processed one.
11. Kachumbari (East African Tomato and Onion Salad) by Meals by Mavis
Kachumbari is a tomato and onion-based salad that is part of the cuisine in Kenya, Tanzania and other neighboring regions. Kachumbari can be eaten as a side dish or an appetizer for a main meal. It’s also common for kachumbari to be used as a condiment for East African pilau rice and biryani.
Kachumbari is an East African fresh tomato and onion-based salad that is perfect as an appetizer for main meals. This salad is also great as a side dish for grilled meats.
12. Senegalesse Black-Eyed Pea Salad (Saladu Ñebbe ) by Cookie and Kate
Senegalese Black-eyed peas are not just for New Years! They are delicious little white beans with a mild taste and smooth texture, and as such can and should be enjoyed year-round.
This simple, refreshing bean salad recipe makes a great summer side or potluck dish. I added leftover brown basmati rice and sliced avocado to make it a complete meal.
With this long list of variants, never again will your menu be boring. You can keep your family guessing on what is about to hit them next. Discover flavors, aromas, textures, and combinations you wouldn’t have thought about. Experience African food and grow your culinary skills using these recipes. What is your favorite African salad recipe on our list? Which of the recipes would you try first? Share your thoughts in the comment box below.