51 Best African Dishes | TravellersQuest
With more than 30 million square kilometers, Africa is a huge continent that is composed of 54 countries, each with a myriad of different cultures and traditions throughout this great extension of land.
African gastronomy has the characteristic of converting its food into a celebration. In this way, individuals eating the food feel welcomed regardless of how little or much the quantity.
Coffee, lentils, peas, cassava, sweet potatoes, yams, barley and corn usually have a great role on the African table. In addition, lamb, shrimp, crab, fish, pork, beef and chicken are proteins that are most often present in traditional dishes.
Africa, culinary speaking, stands out for its smell, color, and flavor that its different spices give. These condiments can be saffron, cumin, ogon, huru, ginger, black pepper, uzaki and cilantro.
Do you want to learn more about the unique style of African cuisine? African cuisine is quite extensive, which is why in this article we will review meal types by category including:
Table of Content
The Best African dishes
The African land is the origin of the best flavors hidden in the simplicity of a dish. Do not get carried away by appearances, African cuisine is quite extensive and of great quality.Due to this, choosing the best meals of the continent is not a simple task. We have laid out what we consider to be the best dishes here for you!
Wat originated in the country of Ethiopia, being one of the most popular meals of this nation. The Wat is a dish that contains a stew of any type of meat, from chicken, beef and fish; however it cannot be made from pork if one takes into account that most Ethiopians are Muslims.
Wat can also contain different portions of beans in stew of small portions. These stews are served on flat bread.
Brik is a light African dish that is usually consumed before the main dish in its area of origin, Tunisia. Despite being an entree, Brik is a tasty meal that will most likely leave you wanting more. This dish has a contrast between sweet and savory flavors that make its consumption a unique experience.
This Tunisian meal consists of a kind of crepe or tortilla, although instead of cooking on an oiled plate, the Brik is prepared fried. This tortilla comes in a triangle and is stuffed with tuna or beef, all this in an exquisite vegetable stew.
This traditional Nshimadish is an essential factor in the traditional cuisine of Zambia, being part of most of the breakfasts of the inhabitants of this country. The Nshima itself constitutes a kind of bun. These are made with corn dough and can have a sweet taste and can also be prepared by stirring with milk and water, until they acquire a dense consistency.
The Nshima is usually accompanied with a stir-fry of vegetables and peanuts called Ifisashi. This sautéed dish contains tomatoes, onion, diced zucchini, spinach leaves and roasted peanuts. Its final result is moist with the contrast of roasted peanuts that gives it a special touch.
Briouat is not a typical African food recipes. It is a sweet elaboration from North Africa, more specifically from Morocco. Briouat consists of fried triangles the size of nachos, which are usually stuffed with meat.
The dough of this meal consists of a sweet puff pastry or layers. The meat that is usually inside these small fried or baked cakes are lamb, veal or chicken. It should be noted that they can be rubbed with lemon drops to make a greater contrast of flavors.
South African dishes
South Africa has both a European influence from early colonizers in this area and aboriginal tribe influence from times before Europeans came to Africa. Thus, cuisine is characterized by a good mix of traditions and customs.
Below are the highlights of this part of the African continent.
Angola and Mozambique present PiriPiri Chicken. The name of this South African dish is thanks to one of the main ingredients: PiriPiri –a type of hot chili pepper.
This preparation is baked or grilled, so that the chicken is marinated in the sauce prepared with PiriPiri, tomato, vinegar, olive oil, cayenne pepper, lemon, sugar, oregano and soy sauce.
One of the best African dishes is Sadza. Zimbabwe is the nation that gave birth to Sadza. Sadza is slightly similar to Nshima, since it is also made from cornmeal.However, Nshima and Sadza have differences in size. Sadza is smallerand comes in the form of a bun, but can also be found in the Zimbabwean dishes as a puree.
In addition to water, the dough of Sadza can incorporate peanut butter and once cooked they can be on the same plate along with lamb, fish, chicken, veal and even vegetable worms, with the condition that these stews contain a large amount of sauce.
Thisdish extends through the countries and regions in the area. The Bobotie is similar in structure to a meatloaf. It is made with ground beef and includes a mixture of meat, with garlic and sautéed onions and bread soaked in milk so that it acquires a compact consistency.
Finally, you add the mixture to a baking pan and cover it with eggs beaten in milk. This will create a crispy and creamy layer when baked.
Ravitoto is a meat stew, usually pork, in leaves of a plant called cassava. These leaves are very common in Madagascar, where the dish was originally created. This atypical stew for foreigners is always served with a portion of white rice.
Its preparation consists of sautéed pork meat with onions, garlic and peppers; so that once it is cooked it is boiled next to the leaves of Cassava. Finally, this dish is usually covered with a chopped tomato sauce, called Rougali.
West Africa´s Dishes
West Africa is a sub region of the third largest continent in the world that includes places like Tongo, Senegal, Cape Verde, Ghana and Guinea. In this area food is based in large part on American influence and being a coastal area, seafood.
Coming from Nigeria, Futari is one of the Africanmain dishes that is ideal for people who do not have any type of meat. Futari is based only on vegetables cooked in coconut milk. Generally, this dish is accompanied with white rice or beans.
The Futari, includes, pieces of green banana, pumpkin, yam, green peas and ocumo. This is seasoned with black pepper, a touch of cinnamon, salt to taste and a hint of brown sugar. The dish is made by sautéing onions and finally adding all the vegetables with the coconut milk and boil those until all the tender texture ingredients remain.
This West African dish was born in the country of Cape Verde. Cachupa is a stew of beef, lamb, sausage, salmon or chicken with pieces of corn, green banana, cassava leaves, yams and sweet potatoes. Cachupa is actually the national dish of Cape Verde, having variations in its recipe throughout this entire archipelago.
There are two denominations for Cachupa, the “Poor Cachupa,” which contains a small amount of ingredients and the “Rich Cachupa,” which on the contrary, contains a greater amount of food that constitutes this dish.
Chicken Kedjenou is one of the most delicious and traditional dishes of Ivory Coast. It is a strong stewwith a spicy flavor, where meat or chicken are the protagonists.
Its preparation is simple: chunks of chicken or chicken meat, are cooked with sautéed onions, chopped tomatoes, hot peppers and diced eggplant in a thick-bottomed pot. This is so that the flavor is concentrated leaving the final result juicy and spicy.
To close this section of South African dishes is a Nigerian dish, the MoinMoin. This is a kind of salty cake or pudding, which hosts an excellent mixture of beans, black peas and green beans. The dough of this dish is made from cornmeal which is stuffed by beans.
In addition to this, MoinMoin can be filled with pasta tomatoes, chopped onions, chili peppers and red pepper. After a layer of cornmeal dough is placed in a mold and the bean stew is added, a new layer of dough must be added and baked until it is golden brown.
North African dishes
North Africa includes countries such as Tunisia and Algeria that use lamb meat extensively in their preparations, as well as Libya, Morocco, Egypt and Sudan, which have variations in their own style.
Fatta or Fatteh is a dish that can be prepared in vegan versions or the original version with chicken or lamb meat. Fatteh is one of the main dishes of Egypt consisting of a white rice timbale on which a stew of chopped chicken or lamb meat is positioned.
Additionally, the fatteh contains pieces of pita bread, tomato, peppers, eggplant and carrot. In a decorative way, yogurt sauce is added on top of the previously roasted meat.
This time, one of the best African dishes on our list is M’hanncha. It is originated in Morocco, and then became part of a special place also in Algeria. Its appearance is similar to a funky snake, decorated on its surface with filleted almonds.
This Moroccan sweet is made with phyllo dough and is filled with a delicate paste made of crushed almonds, cinnamon powder, butter, and sugar and is then flavored with rose water. After rolling the stuffing, it is baked until its surface is golden brown.
Another dish from North Africa comes again from Morocco. Tajine is a Moroccan kitchen utensil, in which a type of dish called Tajín is mostly prepared. Thanks to the steam cooking done by Tajine, you can make recipes with chicken or lamb without drying out your meat.
Tajine may contain chicken, lamb or veal meat, tomatoes, onions, carrots, pumpkins and olive oil. All this is cooked slowly and accurately until the vegetables are soft and the chicken juicy and golden.
The origin of these African food recipes is born in Algeria, creating a soup that makes a perfect mix between its different ingredients. Its color is usually a reddish orange because of the tomatoes found in this preparation.
The Chorba contains chicken meat and lamb, tomato pulp, finely chopped parsley, turmeric, chickpeas, onions, noodles, carrots and celery in pieces.
Eastern African dishes
East Africa is one of the areas of this continent where you can see bigger differences between traditional dishes. Constituted by 18 African states, the eastern part of this continent bases meals on goat or sheep with vegetables of great abundance such as corn.
Sudan is home to this delicious and traditional dish called Tamiya. Tamiya is a simple but very tasty meal consisting of small falafels served on a bed of chickpea cream or hummus and decorated with cilantro and finely chopped parsley.
These falafel-like balls are made with white bread soaked in water, cornmeal, sesame seeds, coriander seeds, salt and pepper. They are then fried until golden brown and crispy. Finally, they are plated with hummus in abundant quantity.
Injera is a flatbread that is ideal for people allergic to gluten, since it does not have wheat flour. The Injera is a dish from the West African country of Ethiopia and is made from cereal with the smallest size in the world, this cereal is called Teff. This flat bread usually accompanies different stews of meat with sauces or beans, playing the role of a cutlery to consume food.
This flatbread is made with a fermentation process of its cereal base, the Teff, and is then grilled allowing it to acquire a pancake-like appearance.
NyamaChoma in Swahili translates as roasted meat, one of the main dishes. This meal can be made from almost any type of meat from goat, lamb or veal, also including antelope meat or crocodile.
NyamaChoma is prepared on a charcoal grill in the form of skewers or with large pieces of the selected meat; it is also accompanied by vegetables such as ugali, potatoes, fried plantain and yam.
Somali Crab Stew
The coastal areas of Somalia usually have a great culinary qualities in all kinds of meals with seafood. One of the best African dishes is the crab stew. This crab stew is very similar to a crab soup, however it is a much more concentrated and substantial broth.
This Somali Crab Stew dish incorporates crab meat and if desired shrimp, with tomatoes chopped into large pieces, onion, red chili and sweet peppers. Finally, it is seasoned with salt, black pepper, curry, olive oil and ginger.
African dishes with rice
Africa is a continent in which many types of ingredients available are used to a great extent. That is why several of dishes are based on the same foods but have different elaborations. Rice is a common protagonist in these meals
Mozambique is the African country that brings us Matapa. Matapa is a traditional meal in this nation; it consists of a high density sauce that is accompanied with white rice.
The Matapa sauce is made with coconut milk, peanut flour and cassava leaves. In addition to this, salt, garlic, pepper and onion are added. Thanks to peanut flour, Matapa will acquire a high density and a green color due to cassava leaves.
Goat with rice
Goat meat is one of the most used in Somalia, which is why it is nothing strange that the jollof riceAfrican dishes and more typical of this country is goat with rice. Goat meat is prepared stewed and served on a good portion of yellow rice with curry, turmeric, ginger, cinnamon and broth.
The meat is boiled for a little more than two hours so that it is tender. Then it is sealed with lime juice. Then, green peppers, coriander, cinnamon, ginger, cumin, garlic and butter are added.
This time the country that makes its appearance is Senegal presenting one of its best dishes, Ceebu Jen. This dish has many synonyms and different denominations within Senegal, such as Thieboudienne and Ceebujenn are two other names given to this dish.
The preparation focuses on fish stuffed with parsley, salt and pepper. Then the fish is sealed with olive oil, onion and tomato. After vegetables such as carrots and eggplants are added the meal is cooked slowly until it is significantly reduced. Finally, it is served with rice made in the same fish stock.
Jollof rice is one of the most consumed rice dishes in Western African. Its origin is not known exactly, however it is presumed that it could have originated in Senegal and from there spread to all surrounding areas. This dish is usually a typical West African breakfast consisting of very spicy rice with pieces of fish, chicken or lamb or veal.
Its most prominent ingredients are ginger, spicy chilies, bay leaves, tomatoes, red onion and red pepper. All this is liquefied together and then cooked with sautéed onions and more tomato puree. Finally, add the rice and consume!
It should be noted that pieces of chicken or stewed meat can be added to this preparation to give a stronger taste.
African dishes with chicken
Chicken and meat like lamb and veal, are some of the most consumed proteins in Africa. There are several recipes based on chicken, from soups and stews to creams and sauces with spicy chicken.
Senegal is the country that opens this classification, making its appearance again, but this time it is to present a traditional dish, not only in this country, but also throughout Africa. This dish is called Yassa. The recipe consists of spicy chicken with a marinade of at least one hour, but it can be done a whole night to intensify the flavor.
Lime juice, along with spicy chilies, chopped bait, sunflower oil and some mustard, will be the most essential part of this preparation, since these ingredients constitute the marinade in which the chicken will be submerged. Then the chicken will be cooked with olive oil and sunflower in addition to its own broth to finally be served on white rice.
This is one of the best African dishes with chicken. It was created in Gabon and then reached its neighboring nation of Equatorial Guinea. This dish is based on a cooking in palm nut butter or Grainne sauce. Most often it is accompanied with fried plantain or yam puree.
The chicken used in this dish is preferably smoked, which is sautéed with garlic and onion in red palm oil, so that it is then cooked in palm nut butter. Finally the chicken Nyembwe is served with its companions.
Chicken Moambe is one of the most consumed African dishes with chicken in the nation of Congo. It is very similar to the preparation of Nyembwe chicken, except that instead of containing palm nut cream, Chicken Moambe uses peanut butter to cook this meat.
The chickenwill be chopped and sealed before making any other preparation. Then it will be incorporated into a sauce of tomatoes, garlic, chives, ginger, chili flakes and chopped bait. Said sauce will be responsible for diluting the peanut butter.
Finally you can accompany this dish with baked bananas and white rice.
Fonio with chicken
A cereal called Fonio was born in West Africa, a favorite among the inhabitants of Mali.
The Fonio cereal is steamed and will be the companion of the chicken seasoned with garlic, onions and hot chili. Then it is finally cooked with oil and tomatoes until its crust is golden brown.
African dishes with fish
Many of the countries of the African continent have large coasts where their main economic activity is fishing. Therefore, many African country cuisines are specialized toward sea food.
This type of African fish dish one of the most traditional in Senegal. This West African country makes grilled tilapia in such a way that it acquires the smoke of a barbecue and the Nigerian touch manifested through the spicy.
The tilapia is cut superficially so that it acquires in a more uniform way the flavors before cooking, then it is seasoned with ginger, lime juice, black and white pepper. Finally, the fish is cooked on the grill and accompanied by grilled bananas.
Yebeh is a stew of fish, yam, onion and chili that give flavor to the central ingredient, which is smoked fish. This dish was created in Sierra Leone by a tribe called Mende.
Mainly, cassava, yam and fish are boiled to obtain their most essential broth. After they are quite reduced, chilies, green peppers, onions, white pepper and palm oil are added. Finally, Yebeh is served when it already has a good taste and color.
Dahomey fish stew
This is one of the most traditional and best African dishes of Benin and Sudan mainly based on a stew of a previously fried fish. Generally, tilapia fish is used and seasoned with salt, pepper, chives and ginger. Then it is breaded with wheat flour and fried until it acquires a golden and crispy layer. Finally, a tomato and onion base with fish stock is made so that the fried tilapia is added.
Efo fish riro
This Nigerian dish, most of the time is made only with vegetables and vegetables, however there is a variation in which it can be done with fish meat. The main vegetables in this Efo fish riro are spinach, onions, tomatoes and chili peppers and red peppers.
The fish used for this dish is usually dried fish. The meat will be boiled with curry powder, ginger and white pepper for a short period of time. Finally, tomatoes and onions will make a kind of pasta that will be added to the fish stock along with spinach, chili peppers and red peppers.
African traditional dishes
Despite being the third largest continent on the planet, Africa has something that other continents do not: culinary traditions. There are dishes that are consumed almost identically throughout Africa and therefore are the most traditional of the continent.
This meal originated in Uganda, has now become a very common traditional African dish among all the people of Central Africa. Matoke combines the typical spices of African cuisine and chicken to create an excellent experience in a single dish of food.
Matoke is basically a chicken stew with mashed bananas. It is made by browning the chicken with salt, curry, ginger and white pepper in olive oil. Then red peppers, tomatoes and onions will create a sauce next to the chicken broth that will be the biggest advantage of this dish. The mashed bananas will be made with milk and butter.
Ugali is a fairly common dish in several regions of Africa. This is made from cornmeal and is accompanied with chicken meat and stewed vegetables. It is a very simple and quick recipe that consists of a few steps.
First with boiling water, add the cornmeal and beat until it acquires a thick consistency. The ideal point of Ugali is when the mixture is already separated from the pan. Finally, this corn dough is accompanied with any type of stew or sauce of preference.
This is one of the best dishes evident because it is not only traditional in Africa; it also extends to part of Europe and its cuisine. This recipe originated in North Africa, more specifically in Morocco. The couscous is made from wheat semolina, which creates dough and these small grains similar to rice are made.
The couscous is prepared with vegetables, black pepper, olive oil, butter, salt and coriander. Adding species such as curry, ginger, cinnamon and ground cumin.
Spread across almost all of West Africa, this west African cuisine based on meat and peanuts, the Maafe was a preparation that originated in Senegal. This preparation consists of a stew of lamb, chicken or veal, with natural peanut butter.
It is done by sautéing the meat with salt and pepper. Then chopped onions and piers are added, then chopped tomatoes into thin pieces and carrots. Finally, the natural peanut butter diluted with water comes into play to give this stew flavor over low heat and for quite some time.
African side dishes
African cuisine is quite varied; however, many of the dishes have similarities. For example, there are basic formats of traditional dishes that are characterized by forming companions. These companions can be from flat bread with a stew, to a mass of corn and sautéed vegetables.
Originally this African side dish was first made in Kenya, although it has been extended to some areas of Tanzania. This simple dish consists of a small red bean stew. This dish is usually the companion of a portion of white rice.
The ingredients that make up this preparation are coconut milk, garlic, onions, salt, curry and green peppers.
Green Banana Fufu
The Fufu is a dish that originated in Ghana and has reached different parts of central and western Africa. The green banana Fufu consists of a stew of lamb or veal meat that is accompanied with pieces of green banana next to the plate. However, there are pieces that must be included in the same stew.
The veal will be chopped and sautéed with sunflower oil, curry, ginger and salt, and onions, garlic and green peppers will be added. Then the already boiled bananas will be pureed and added to the stew.
Originating from East Africa, this side dish called Eastern Congrí was possible to extended to some islands of the Caribbean Sea. Oriental congrí is a spicy and spicy bean broth that contains small grains of rice inside.
This broth can be accompanied with flat bread or even with more white rice. The beans are red and can have pieces of beef, curry powder, finely chopped ginger and red chili which gives its characteristic taste.
Kachumbari is a spicy sauce with a unique flavor that is very versatile when accompanying appetizers. This sauce was created in Tanzania in East Africa. This side dish consists of cucumber cut into small pieces, diced tomatoes, jalapeño chili, garlic, lime, salt and red pepper. It can be eaten with toasted pita bread or even with tomato slices.
African dishes with meat
Africans are well known fans of meat, however many of the countries in Africa are Muslim and therefore are not allowed to consume pork. Meats common in African cuisine because of this include mostly veal and lamb.
Cecina, also called Biltong, is one of the best African dishes using a kind of pickled beef, sometimes including ostrich! This South African dish is ideal for a good barbecue with African origin. It can be shaped in skewers with tomato slices, pumpkins and carrots.
It can also be marinated in a tomato sauce, onions and curry powder. The final touch to this meal is adding with grilled bananas!
Mechoui is a dish that consists mainly of delicious grilled lamb meat. This dish was originated in Morocco and is well known in some areas of Algeria. Lamb meat is first indicated on palm oil, chopped red onions and finely chopped garlic.
You would proceed to cook it on the coals with a little salt, white pepper and decorative parsley. It can be served with a portion of mashed potatoes.
This African meat dish is one of the tastiest but unfortunately little known throughout the African continent. This broth of different types of meats is originated in Namibia and can contain from venison to meat from small hares and even pieces of lamb.
This Potjiekos includes potatoes, carrots, green peppers, garlic, onions, milk, red wine, curry, turmeric, ginger, salt and black pepper.
This dish is from Senegalese territory and consists of small cubes of lamb meat accompanied with sweet potatoes, onions, sweet peppers, cinnamon sticks, curries, garlic, tomatoes and finely chopped coriander.
The lamb is browned with olive oil and sautéed onions, then sweet peppers, garlic and tomato slices are added. Finally, it is flavored with chopped cilantro and colored with curry and cinnamon sticks.
African dishes with vegetables
The entire African continent is identifies with the use of at least one vegetable in all its recipes. There are several dishes that pay homage to the exclusive use of vegetables.
South Africa is the creator of this small vegetable stew, which can be enjoyed freshly prepared or with a cold temperature. This stew is made by sautéing onions chopped in julienne with pieces of green peppers, sautéed tomatoes and green beans with salt and pepper.
This African vegetable dish is a Nigerian soup; it has as its central ingredient the melon seeds that give name to the dish, Egusi. This broth also has these seeds, pieces of pumpkins, potatoes, fresh spinach leaves and onions. It should be noted that pieces of lamb can be added to give it a higher flavor.
The Romazava is a way of cooking veal that is wrapped very gently and delicately in leaves and flowers of light-cressed watercress. In addition, it contains chopped tomatoes and onions, complemented with curry powder and ginger. All this pasta slowly over a low heat cooks the beef so that the result is juicy and very healthy.
La Matata is a stewed preparation of clams that are usually accompanied by white rice. This is one of the best dishes that originated in Mozambique is made with pumpkin leaves, spinach leaves, sautéed onions and green peppers. It should be noted that peanuts can also be part of this dish.
African salads are common and very abundant in all Africa since it is a continent that feels a great respect towards the vegetables and the elaborations with them.
This is one of Kenya’s main salads. It is low cost and can be consumed every day of the week after lunch. This Sukuma wiki includes green leaves of cabbage, chopped onions and tomatoes that are accompanied with small portions of spicy chili. It should be noted that this salad is sprinkled with lemon drops and can be consumed cold or hot.
Codfish, an African food recipe, is from Guinea. It consists of small and thin julienne of cod meat cooked with little grilled oil and at the same time said julienne, is made of green cucumber and avocado. Finally, it is sprinkled with drops of lime and seasoned with salt and pepper.
Sudan is the nation that provided this recipe to the rest of Africa and the world. This salad is made with lentils and already cooked beans, olive oil, parsley, lime, salt and white pepper. All this in a well-mixed bowl so that it is finally decorated with a few mint leaves.
Mango and cucumber salad
Finally, this is the recipe that concludes this great list of the best African dishes from the typical, to the vegetarian, covering the use of proteins such as meat, chicken and fish and of course an exclusive section for the best culinary recipes from Africa.
The origin of one of the most everyday salads in East Africa is diffuse; it is believed that it may have originated in Kenya or Ethiopia. This delicious mango and cucumber salad contains diced mango and cucumber, diced tomatoes, roasted peanuts scattered throughout the dish, purple onion, sunflower oil and lemon droplets that give a signature touch to this exquisite meal.