13 Popular African Foods You Cannot Miss In Each Region

Koki beans recipe

 

Africa is a continent with numerous tourist attractions. However, what makes many tourists come back after their first visit is the mouthwatering African foods. One bite usually sets off an unquenchable taste for spicy food. Every year millions of tourists visit various African countries to enjoy the fantastic climate and culinary diversity. African is blessed with diverse cuisines and you’ll be spoilt for choice. Every region in Africa has a unique cuisine that they are known for. Also, African food is popular due to the heavy use of local spices, vegetables, fruits, and grains. Without much ado, below are 13 of the most popular African foods.

Is African food spicy?

Every region in Africa has a spicy delicacy that will leave you gasping for air. While chilies and hot pepper are the most common hot spices, there are other local favorites. They include ginger, cumin, cinnamon, coriander seeds, curry, garlic, and sesame seeds. Therefore, make sure you know your allergies and ask properly for the ingredients. It is always good to eat only what your body can tolerate.

What is the most eaten food in Africa?

The most popular African food will depend on your location—different countries have their staples. For example, if you go to West Africa, you’ll find that the most eaten food is Jollof rice. However, in Kenya, you’ll discover nyama and irio as the most consumed food and so forth. But, if you are asking about the food class that is consumed the most, your answer is cereal.

What is the role of food in African culture?

African foods play a vital role in connecting people from various regions. In fact, food has become the identity of certain tribes. Therefore, many African people use food as a way of preserving their cultural identity. It is not surprising that African mothers hand the art of cooking to their daughters. Inasmuch as the tradition is fading, women remain the chief custodian of food culture in most communities. Others have carried this culture with them to different parts of the world.

Also, in most African cultures, one of the ways of telling a visitor that they are accepted is by offering them food. In the same fate, when a visitor rejects served food, it is a sign that they are holding grudges against the host. This explains why sharing food is an important feature practice in most African societies—especially rural communities.

 

 

 

 

13 of the Most Popular African Foods

Inasmuch as we have 13 different types of food on this list, it is possible that you may not find some of them, depending on the part of the continent you visit. In other words, the popularity of the foods varies. Nevertheless, irrespective of the region you visit, you will definitely find one or two foods from our list.

#1. Jollof Rice (Nigeria)

NIGERIAN JOLLOF RICE | Precious Core
Jollof rice served with coriander and fried plantain (Photo credit: preciouscore.com)

The first on our list is Jollof rice from West Africa. Once you visit Nigeria, you shouldn’t leave the country without having a taste of this delicious meal. This is one of the delicacies that now enjoys patronage from all over the world. Jollof is rice prepared in a pot with tomato sauce and served with either fish or meat (chicken or beef). Today, Jollof rice has become the signature dish at festive gatherings and parties. In some cases, you will get Jollof rice with egusi soup. There is still a tug of war between Nigeria and Ghana on who makes the tastier Jollof rice.

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Let\'s settle this once and for all: Between Ghana and Nigeria, who makes the best Jollof rice?

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Soweto chicken chakalaka with West African jollof rice By Sun Basket

Yields2 Servings
Prep Time15 minsCook Time30 minsTotal Time45 mins

Chakalaka is as fun to make as it is to say. This gluten-free South African stew stars turmeric- and ginger-infused chicken thighs over fluffy rice.

 1 cup diced tomatoes
 2 sprigs fresh thyme
 1 dried bay leaf
 2 to 4 boneless skinless chicken thighs (about 10 ounces total)
 1 white onion
 1 green bell pepper
 2 ounces shredded carrots
 ¼ pound shredded green cabbage
 Chakalaka spice blend (brown sugar - turmeric - ground ginger - coriander - ground mustard - allspice - cayenne)

Ingredients

 1 cup diced tomatoes
 2 sprigs fresh thyme
 1 dried bay leaf
 2 to 4 boneless skinless chicken thighs (about 10 ounces total)
 1 white onion
 1 green bell pepper
 2 ounces shredded carrots
 ¼ pound shredded green cabbage
 Chakalaka spice blend (brown sugar - turmeric - ground ginger - coriander - ground mustard - allspice - cayenne)
Soweto chicken chakalaka with West African jollof rice By Sun Basket

#2. Chicken Muamba (Angola)

Muamba Chicken African foods (Muamba de Galinha) - Immaculate Bites
Muamba chicken served with carrots and okra (Photo credit: africanbites.com)

There is a popular saying that, “When you go to Rome, behave like Romans”. Likewise, when you visit Luanda, do like Angolans. In this case, you will have to taste chicken Muamba, one of Angola’s unique cuisines. You cook chicken Muamba using spices, palm oil, garlic, okra, and chillis. It is often accompanied by fufu, igali, or fungi. This is one of the African foods that get really spicy.

 

 

#3. Nyama na irio (Kenya)

Kenyan Steak and Irio African foods | "Deja Vu" Cook
Famous Nyama na irio from Kenya (Photo credit: Wordpress.com)

Ask ten Kenyans about their favorite food and at least 8 will say Nyama na irio. Nyama na Irio is a typical Kikuyu staple food. The dish has spread throughout the country, and become a favorite for many Kenyans. Irio is a combination of mashed up potatoes, beans, peas, onion, corn. It is served with “Nyama”, which is roasted meat marinated in spices. You will find this kind of African food at weddings or traditional celebrations.

#4. Koshari (Egypt)

Simple Egyptian Koshari African foods Recipe with Kids | Local Passport Family
Delicious Egyptian Koshari cuisine served on a plate ( Photo credit: localpassportfamily.com)

Are you planning to explore the land of pharaohs and pyramids? After all the touring, reward your taste buds with Koshari, one of the country’s culinary treasures. The food is more of a staple for Egyptian families. It comprises rice, lentils, chickpeas, garlic, macaroni, spicy tomato sauce, and fried onions. For a recipe as popular as Koshari, expect to encounter some variations. One thing that you should know is that it is a highly nutritious dish.

 

 

 

 

#5. Pastilla (Morocco)

Pastilla traditionnelle - Cuisine Marocaine
Moroccan chicken pie covered in eggs (Photo credit: marocaine.com)

Moroccan dishes have earned themselves global recognition over the decades. However, Moroccan tagine Pastilla is not your ordinary dish. You will not find it in regular cookbooks. Pastilla is a pie that consists of shredded chicken covered in thick egg sauce and natural spices. Hardly will you find a major celebration in Morocco that doesn’t serve this meal. The absence of it makes the party incomplete.

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Chicken Pastilla (Moroccan Skillet Chicken Pie) By The Delicious Crescent

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Yields8 Servings
Prep Time30 minsCook Time25 minsTotal Time55 mins

Chicken Pastilla, a scrumptious Moroccan delicacy, made easy in a skillet. Tender shredded chicken with aromatic spices wrapped in perfectly crisp pastry layers.

One serving of this pastilla has a substantial amount of high-quality protein and a good dose of healthy fats from the olive oil. So you can have it with some green salad for your lunch. It could be part of the dinner menu with a light entree and of course any party menu too.

 3 lbs chicken thighs with bone,yield: approx 1½ lbs chicken meat
 2 onions mediumsliced
 ½ tsp turmeric
 ½ tsp ground cumin
 1 ½ tsp ginger grated
 5 ½ tsp olive oil
 ¼ tsp saffron ground,soaked in 1 tablespoon hot water
 ¼ cup cilantro chopped
 ¼ cup parsleychopped
 ¾ tsp salt adjust per taste
 6 eggs large, whisked
 ¼ cup almonds roasted, coarsely chopped
 8 ounces phyllo dough 20 sheets - 9 X 14 size
 ½ tbsp gheeor Olive oil/melted butter
 almond flour or confectioners sugar with ground cinnamon Optional

Ingredients

 3 lbs chicken thighs with bone,yield: approx 1½ lbs chicken meat
 2 onions mediumsliced
 ½ tsp turmeric
 ½ tsp ground cumin
 1 ½ tsp ginger grated
 5 ½ tsp olive oil
 ¼ tsp saffron ground,soaked in 1 tablespoon hot water
 ¼ cup cilantro chopped
 ¼ cup parsleychopped
 ¾ tsp salt adjust per taste
 6 eggs large, whisked
 ¼ cup almonds roasted, coarsely chopped
 8 ounces phyllo dough 20 sheets - 9 X 14 size
 ½ tbsp gheeor Olive oil/melted butter
 almond flour or confectioners sugar with ground cinnamon Optional
Chicken Pastilla (Moroccan Skillet Chicken Pie) By The Delicious Crescent

#6. Koki Bean cake (Cameroon)

KOKI BEANS RECIPE | Precious Core
Cameroon koki beans cake (Photo credit: preciouscore.com)

Koki, also known as bean cake, is a delightful appetizer found in Central Africa, Cameroon. This is a must-have dish if you happen to visit this region. The main component is cowpeas. The peas are boiled and mashed, then wrapped in banana leaves and steamed. Koki gets its bright red color from red palm oil, chili, and palm nut sauce. If you have had a taste before, share your experience in the comment box below.

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Koki is one of the foods that is popular all over Cameroon. This dish is normally cooked during the raining season because of the abundance of fresh corn, and it is very tasty and delicious.

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Koki Corn (African Fresh Corn Tamales) by African Bites

Yields4 Servings
Prep Time30 minsCook Time1 hrTotal Time1 hr 30 mins

 5 ears fresh corn
 1 cup water
 1 cup Corn Meal
 3 cups Spinach
 1 tsp Salt
 23 tbsp Palm oilPalm oil
  Foil paper/ Banana/Plantain Leaves/ Saran Wrap

Koki Corn (African Fresh Corn Tamales) by African Bites
Koki Corn (African Fresh Corn Tamales) by African Bites

Ingredients

 5 ears fresh corn
 1 cup water
 1 cup Corn Meal
 3 cups Spinach
 1 tsp Salt
 23 tbsp Palm oilPalm oil
  Foil paper/ Banana/Plantain Leaves/ Saran Wrap
Koki Corn (African Fresh Corn Tamales) by African Bites

#7. Couscous Royale (Tunisia)

Tunisian Couscous Secrets and Tips • How To Cook Recipes
Delicious couscous meal (Photo credit: howtocook.net)

Couscous is a popular African food enjoyed in the North African region. The dish consists of steamed semolina. Ask for couscous Royale with sliced lamb infusion if you want your mouth to explode with sweetness. Also, you can ask for other accompaniments such as Saffron and spiced chicken. This combo will give you an unforgettable dining experience.

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Moroccan Vegetable Couscous By Grad Food

Yields8 Servings
Prep Time15 minsCook Time40 minsTotal Time55 mins

So many unique and wonderful flavors and textures packed into this Moroccan side dish!-Moroccan Vegetable Couscous

 1 15 oz can chickpeasrinsed and dried
 3 bell peppers chopped
 1 red onion chopped
 1 large carrot chopped
 1 large zucchini chopped
 1 bag kale
 2 tbsp mint roughly chopped
 1.50 cups couscous
 1 tbsp harissa
 1.50 tsp garlic salt
 4 tsp cumin
 1 tsp turmeric
 2 tsp paprika
 1 tbsp sumac

Ingredients

 1 15 oz can chickpeasrinsed and dried
 3 bell peppers chopped
 1 red onion chopped
 1 large carrot chopped
 1 large zucchini chopped
 1 bag kale
 2 tbsp mint roughly chopped
 1.50 cups couscous
 1 tbsp harissa
 1.50 tsp garlic salt
 4 tsp cumin
 1 tsp turmeric
 2 tsp paprika
 1 tbsp sumac
Moroccan Vegetable Couscous By Grad Food

#8. Bunny Chow (South Africa)

Bunny Chow: South African Curry in a Bread Bowl  - One Green Planet
Hollow bread stuffed with curry (Photo credit: onegreenplanet.org)
We still don’t know how South Africa’s most famous African food got its name. However, what is certain is that Bunny Chow is one of the countries most sacred street foods. Bunny chow is a hollowed-out quarter loaf filled with meat and vegetable curries. The meat and vegetable curries were brought to South Africa in the 19th century by Indians. Besides, you can get to enjoy these delicious street foods in all major cities across the countries.

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Yotam Ottolenghi's Durban Bunny Chow By The Guardian

Yields4 Servings
Prep Time35 minsCook Time2 hrs 30 minsTotal Time3 hrs 5 mins

Bunny chow is traditionally made with mutton and served in hollowed-out bread. It’s totally comforting (as well as being the perfect antidote to a heavy night out, according to Calvin).

If you prefer, serve the curry alongside rice instead of inside the rolls. If you can, it’s best to make the curry a day ahead, so the flavors develop.

 70 g gheeor olive oil
 750 g stewing lamb or mutton on the bone (scrag, for preference), cut into 3cm chunks
 3 onionspeeled and roughly chopped (480g)
 30g piece fresh gingerpeeled and finely grated
 6 garlic clovespeeled and crushed
 3 mild green chilliescut at an angle into 1cm-thick slices
 20 ½ tbsp leaf masala
 2 fresh bay leaves
 6 large plum tomatoes,roughly grated and skins discarded (750g)
 750 ml chicken stock
 Salt
 550g maris piper potatoes (about 3-4), peeled and cut into 3cm chunks
 2 carrotspeeled and cut into 3cm chunks (150g)
 20 g corianderleaves picked and stalks finely chopped
 4 soft white bread rolls
For the curry leaf oil
 30 g ghee, or olive oil
 4 sprigs fresh curry leaves – about 20 leaves
For the carrot sambal
 3 carrots,peeled and shaved into ribbons with a peeler (200g)
 1 small red onion,peeled and finely sliced (100g)
 ½ garlic clove, grated
 10 g piece fresh gingerpeeled and finely grated
 1 bird’s eye chilli, thinly sliced (if you don’t like heat, leave it out)
 1 tbsp lime juice
 2 tsp olive oil

Ingredients

 70 g gheeor olive oil
 750 g stewing lamb or mutton on the bone (scrag, for preference), cut into 3cm chunks
 3 onionspeeled and roughly chopped (480g)
 30g piece fresh gingerpeeled and finely grated
 6 garlic clovespeeled and crushed
 3 mild green chilliescut at an angle into 1cm-thick slices
 20 ½ tbsp leaf masala
 2 fresh bay leaves
 6 large plum tomatoes,roughly grated and skins discarded (750g)
 750 ml chicken stock
 Salt
 550g maris piper potatoes (about 3-4), peeled and cut into 3cm chunks
 2 carrotspeeled and cut into 3cm chunks (150g)
 20 g corianderleaves picked and stalks finely chopped
 4 soft white bread rolls
For the curry leaf oil
 30 g ghee, or olive oil
 4 sprigs fresh curry leaves – about 20 leaves
For the carrot sambal
 3 carrots,peeled and shaved into ribbons with a peeler (200g)
 1 small red onion,peeled and finely sliced (100g)
 ½ garlic clove, grated
 10 g piece fresh gingerpeeled and finely grated
 1 bird’s eye chilli, thinly sliced (if you don’t like heat, leave it out)
 1 tbsp lime juice
 2 tsp olive oil
Yotam Ottolenghi’s Durban Bunny Chow By The Guardian

 

 

 

 

#9. Kapenta with Sadza (Zimbabwe)

The Hungry Zimbabwean: 2016
Wet kapenta, vegetables, and sadza (Photo credit: hungryzimbabwean.com)

One of Zimbabwe’s culinary highlights is crisp-fried kapenta with Sadza. Kapenta comprises two species of freshwater fish from Lake Tanganyika. Like many African foods, Kapenta comes side-by-side with a bowl of delicious maize porridge known as Sadza. You can get Kapenta either in fresh or dried form. Additionally, you can stew it with onions, tomatoes, and groundnut powder. It’s served with fresh greens. The traditional way to eat kapenta is to take Sadza and roll it on the fish using your hands.

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Kapenta is one of Zimbabwe’s traditional meals. There are many ways of preparing them from just having them fried, coated and this here version stewed. A lot of Zimbabwean families eat this, be it once in a long while, every week or once in a month or two! But you cannot deny it being part of our cuisine here. This is really a basic kapenta stew recipe and is pretty easy to do. Let’s get into it.

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kapenta

Yields4 Servings
Prep Time10 minsCook Time25 minsTotal Time35 mins

 250 g dried kapenta
 1 medium onion, chopped
 1 large tomato, chopped
 1 tsp curry powder

Ingredients

 250 g dried kapenta
 1 medium onion, chopped
 1 large tomato, chopped
 1 tsp curry powder
Dried Matemba (Kapenta) Stew

#10. Pilau (Tanzania)

Tanzanian Pilau Rice Recipe
Mouthwatering Tanzania pilau (Photo credit: thespruceeats.com)

One of Tanzania’s popular dishes is the pilau. This African food draws its influence from the Indian rice dish. However, the use of various spices during preparation is what makes the dish special. The pilau rice is cooked using spices such as cloves, cinnamon, pepper, cardamom, garlic, and ginger. Also, you can add fish, meat, eggs, or chicken to the dish. The meal is almost exclusive for special ceremonies or celebrations.

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Kenyan Chicken Pilau (East African Pilau with Chicken) By Yummy Medley

Yields6 Servings
Prep Time15 minsCook Time35 minsTotal Time50 mins

Featuring a delicious East African pilau made with chicken, this Kenyan Chicken Pilau recipe is an elevated chicken and Kenyan Pilau dish that is very easy to make!

Kenyan Pilau is usually served during special occasions like public holidays, weddings  and religious celebrations like Eid or Christmas.

 2 pounds of chopped bone-in chicken
 2 cups of coconut milk + 2 cups of water
 4 tbsp vegetable oil
 1 large red onion sliced
 4 cloves of garlic crushed
 10 green cardamon pods
 8 cloves
 1 tbsp cumin seeds
 Salt to taste

Ingredients

 2 pounds of chopped bone-in chicken
 2 cups of coconut milk + 2 cups of water
 4 tbsp vegetable oil
 1 large red onion sliced
 4 cloves of garlic crushed
 10 green cardamon pods
 8 cloves
 1 tbsp cumin seeds
 Salt to taste
Kenyan Chicken Pilau (East African Pilau with Chicken) By Yummy Medley

 

 

#11. Matoke (Uganda)

Uganda’s most adorned popular foods
Matoke served with meat and avocado (Photo credit: guide2uganda.ug)

Uganda is a great tourist destination for wildlife enthusiasts. This is due to the epic natural destinations, beautiful restaurants, and the delicious Uganda cuisine matoke. A visit to Uganda isn’t complete without a bite of this delicacy. Matoke is made from mashing cooked green and unripe bananas. It’s served with peanuts, meat stew, or vegetables. Interestingly, this doesn’t come as a surprise considering the fact that Uganda is one of the top suppliers of bananas to European markets.

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Matoke, known in English as East African Highland banana is a staple around East Africa, particularly Uganda and Tanzania. The meal prepared from unripe, green matoke is also called "matoke". I’m sharing a delicious recipe of matoke with beans, which is filling and comforting. Just perfect for this cold time of the year.

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Matoke With Beans By Eat Well Abi

Yields2 Servings
Prep Time10 minsCook Time35 minsTotal Time45 mins

What makes matoke good for cooking is its high starchy content; which you would not find in a lot of bananas. Matokes is usually available in African shops in the UK. If you can’t find it around you, then green plantain or Thai green bananas (sold in Asian shops) are good substitutes.

 4 Green matoke
 2 tbsp Oil
 1 Onion chopped
 2 cloves Garlic chopped
 ½ tsp Cumin
 400 g Chopped tomatoes
 200 g Kidney beans drained
 ½ cup Vegetable stock or water
 ½ tsp Chilli flakes
 Salt to taste
 ½ cup Coriander chopped

Ingredients

 4 Green matoke
 2 tbsp Oil
 1 Onion chopped
 2 cloves Garlic chopped
 ½ tsp Cumin
 400 g Chopped tomatoes
 200 g Kidney beans drained
 ½ cup Vegetable stock or water
 ½ tsp Chilli flakes
 Salt to taste
 ½ cup Coriander chopped
Matoke With Beans By Eat Well Abi

#12. Cassava leaf and rice (Liberia)

How to make Liberian Red Oil Cassava Leaves - YouTube
Rice served with cassava leaves and meat (Photo credit: YouTube.com)

When Liberians are not eating Jollof rice, they are churning it down with cassava leaves. Cassava leaf soup with rice is a popular food in Liberia. To prepare the meal you boil rice separately. Then, pick cassava leaves, clean the leaves, cook, and pound them with fish, meat, water, or coconut milk. The end product is rich and oddly inviting. Share your thoughts on this meal in the comment box below.

 

 

 

 

#13. Injera (Ethiopia)

Injera bread with vegetable toppings (Photo credit: Migrationlogy.com)
Injera bread with vegetable toppings (Photo credit: Migrationlogy.com)

One of the famous African foods in Ethiopia is the sour flat dough known as Injera. The bread comes in two versions, darker and lighter versions, depending on the ingredients. Vegetable sauces, meat, and beans are poured on top of the sour bread. Arguably, it is one of the richest African foods you will taste on the continent.

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Injera – Quick and easy spongy, crepe-like flatbread that’s slightly sour, slightly sweet, and utterly addictive.

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Easy Spongy Injera By African Bites

Yields10 Servings
Prep Time15 minsCook Time30 minsTotal Time45 mins

Injera is a Flat round fermented sourdough bread- bread like no other, with a unique, slightly spongy texture. 

 1 tbsp sugar
 1 tbsp dry yeast
 2 ¾ cups warm water
 4 tsp salt
 ¼ cup sugar
 4 cups warm water

Always present during mealtime, in countries like Ethiopia, Eritrea, Somalia, Yemen, Djibouti and Sudan with each country having it’s own variation. 

Ingredients

 1 tbsp sugar
 1 tbsp dry yeast
 2 ¾ cups warm water
 4 tsp salt
 ¼ cup sugar
 4 cups warm water
Easy Spongy Injera By African Bites

Conclusion

Africa has 54 countries and all of them have their unique cuisines. While we can’t exhaust all of them, the above are some of the most common African foods in different regions. So, whether you are heading to the north, south, east, or west, you have something to savor. Check through our recipe page for cooking directions for some of the foods. Hopefully, you will be able to cook them from the comfort of your home. Have you tried any of these foods? Tell us your thoughts in the comment section below.

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