Africa is famous for its breathtaking natural attractions as well as cultural heritage and diversity. But did you know that the continent offers some of the best foreign cuisines you will ever taste? This is because Africa has over 1.3 billion people living in 54 different countries with more than 3000 tribes.
As you can imagine, each tribe and country have their unique dishes. It's hard to pinpoint which African foods a newbie to African cuisine should try. Still, some African dishes have become extremely popular worldwide.
Keep reading for 6 of the most popular African foods you should try.
1. Fufu, Pap, and Ugali
If you've ever read any books by Chinua Achebe, you've probably heard of Fufu. It's a popular West African dish made from mashing together pounded plantains and cassava with water. Roll the resulting mixture into small balls that you can dip into stew.
Because Fufu has a bland taste and gummy mixture, it's best paired with spicy and flavorful stews like palm nut or groundnut soup. You can find close relations of Fufu all over Africa. In Southern Africa, the dish manifests as Pap where it’s made from cooking ground cornmeal and water into a solid but soft mixture.
The East African version is Ugali and they also make it by cooking cornmeal and water. In East Africa, you can also get Ugali made with other milled grain flours like sorghum, millet, cassava, or a combination of different flours. If you get an opportunity to visit an African cuisine restaurant be sure to order Fufu, Ugali, or Pap─ one of these is sure to be on the menu.
Couscous is a popular dish in North Africa that is often served on Fridays when families get together for lunch. The name is a Berber word meaning rolled or rounded. North Africans make it by mixing Semolina flour with water, rolling the mixture into small balls. They then pass the balls through a sieve to make tinier balls.
Once the balls are ready they pour a vegetable or chicken broth over the balls to make a thick delicious mixture. Some variations use a lamb or beef broth. You can also mix the semolina balls with butter, sugar, and cinnamon to make a sweet dessert.
3. Jollof Rice
Jollof rice is another popular dish in West African countries like Nigeria, Ghana, and Senegal. The three countries are constantly engaged in lighthearted online wars about who makes the best Jollof. Everyone agrees that they make the dish by frying onions, garlic, red pepper, ginger, and tomato puree.
For the dish to pass as Jollof Rice it must have a distinct red colour that comes from adding lots of tomato puree. You can make your unique version of the dish by adding different spices to your taste. For instance, you can add thyme, stock cubes, curry powder, or any other preferred spices or seasonings. Once ready, you can serve Jollof rice with meat dishes like chicken, fish, beef, or turkey.
In East Africa, there is a similar rice dish called pilau. But their version is brown due to a spice called Pilau Masala. East Africans add meat into the same pot cooking the rice so pilau is a complete dish by itself.
Boerewors is a popular South African dish that you can find anywhere in the world. The dish’s name comes from a Boer word meaning "farmer's sausage". South Africans make it from coarsely minced beef mixed with coriander, black pepper, nutmeg, cloves, and any other spices according to preference.
The mixture is then packed into sausage casings and rolled into a continuous spiral. The sausage is often grilled over a charcoal fire or electric grill. But you can also broil it in an oven or fry it on a pan.
In South Africa, Boerewors is a staple food at any Braai and they often serve it with pap. They also eat the sausage as a hot dog served with tomato, chilli, and onion relish.
Chapati is an Indian-inspired flatbread dish found all over East Africa. They make it by mixing wheat flour, water, oil, salt, and sugar into a dough which is then divided into several fist-sized balls. The balls are then rolled and cooked over a hot pan.
East African chapatis differ from Indian ones because they are softer and more layered. If your chapatis are not round and layered you might get a few complaints from diners.
East Africans serve chapati with meat or vegetable stews for lunch or dinner or with tea for breakfast. In Kenya, many home chefs like adding grated carrots or butternut. This adds flavour to their “Chapo's” as they are lovingly called.
Ethiopian cuisine has gained popularity around the world due to the establishment of many Ethiopian restaurants. One of the most popular Ethiopian dishes is a spongy, fermented, flatbread called Injera. Ethiopians make it by mixing Teff flour and water and adding a fermenting substance called 'Ersho'.
Teff is a nutritious grain found in the highlands of Ethiopia. As a low-yield crop, it's quite expensive. You may see teff substituted with wheat, barley, corn, or millet flour when making Injera.
In Ethiopia, Injera is a staple food that can be compared to bread in the West or rice in Asia. So it forms the base for most dishes and curries. The dish is also present in other East African countries like Sudan and Eritrea.
Add These Delicious African Foods to Your List
African cuisine is as diverse and interesting as the African people. Many people are discovering and falling in love with different African foods from the continent.
If you get a chance to visit an African Restaurant, try some of the popular food mentioned above. Looking to stock your store with all the best ingredients to create a perfect dish? Sign up today to shop our exotic meats, spices, vegetables, and more!