Here Are 50 of the Best African Foods From Across the Continent
We asked and you answered. Here is the best African food that you need to try.
Trying to figure out Africa's best dish is an impossible task, so we put the question to our audience to try and get a list of the 50 must-try foods when traveling in Africa or to try and replicate at home. If you're lucky, there's a restaurant serving one of these dishes in your hometown. Recently many of Africa's favorite foods have been popping up on menus worldwide.
Nigerian standbys like suya and fufu can be found easily in the immigrant-rich neighborhoods of New York and London while Moroccan tajine is practically a home cooking staple in many countries, albeit probably not in the way Moroccans know it. Senegalese thieboudienne and (Nigerian, Ghanaian, Sierra Leonean) jollof are coming close to that global ubiquity too while East African favorite chapatis and samosas tend to get lumped in with their cousins from the Indian subcontinent.
One things for certain: African food is just as diverse as its people. From the West to the East to the North and South, some foods are so delectable that they're worth taking a trip for.
We asked our audience to share some of their favorite dishes from their country and tell us why. We received colorful responses that introduced us to a world of delightful, adventurous dishes that have us wondering how we can make it to each and every country on the continent some time in the near future.
Below we give you 50 of the best African foods from various countries, based on our own favorites and your responses. If your country is not represented on this list, feel free to send your favorite dish our way via socials.
Country: Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda
While this delicious staple originates in India, the unleavened flat bread is one of the most popular staples in East African cuisine, it can be enjoyed any time of day, and is often eaten with lentils, beef stew and other sauces.
"It's versatile. It can be had for breakfast, afternoon snack or main entree for dinner."—Wangari
Country: Liberia, Gabon
Palm butter is a thick sauce made by boiling and grinding palm nuts. The silky buttery richness of this dish as its ladled over rice is where it gets its name. It can be used to cook a wide variety of proteins from crawfish to goat. Many have their preferred version, but Liberians like it with plenty pepper. In Liberia, it's usually served for lunch.
"Flavor, flavor, flavor."—Alfreda
Ethiopian restaurants can be found all over the African continent and, in fact, the world. It's a varied cuisine, popular for the wide variety of spices and, of course, injera, the delightfully spongy sourdough bread which diners use to scoop up aromatic stews and sauces. One of our readers' favorites, beyenatu is a tasty vegetarian dish consisting of lentils, beats, spiced greens and a combination of other tasty vegetables, and is served with injera, of course. It's best shared.
"It's healthy and delicious!"—Felicia Genet
Pondu is a classic Congolese stew made of cassava leaves, onions, chili, and palm oil. Eat it with white rice for a filling, delectable meal.
"It's so famous and good that even people in neighboring countries like Rwanda also cook it."—Digata Kabongo
"Because we don't get enough credit for our food!!!"—Quentin
Many non-Ethiopians know the cuisine as a vegetarian's favorite but while there are an incredible number of vegetable forward Ethiopian dishes, none gets quite the reaction from Ethiopians themselves like the meaty Kitfo.
[I love] its buttery goodness. You can't make it wrong unless you make it uneatable. It is raw minced meat."—Feven Mekonenn
Pweza wa nazi
Country: (Zanzibar) Tanzania
Swahili is one of the great world cuisines with influences that span the Indian Ocean basin and the African continent. Its a reflection of the east coast, and Zanzibar in particular's history as a crossroads for trade and empire. There's nothing quite so quintessentially Zanzibari as "pweza wa nazi" or octopus curry. This Zanzibari delicacy consists of octopus braised in lime, spices and coconut milk until it's tender. It's a true seafood lover's dream.
Caranguejo e Coco (Coconut Crab Curry)
Visualize a table by the beach, little limes and chilis on the table and a bowl of fresh crab sitting in a rich curry made with savory/sweet coconut milk. Crack open the crabs to get at the fluffy white meat while the fragrant sauce mixes with the rice. Eat with peri peri and a large Manica beer to share.
"I haven't had anything like this anywhere else in the world." —Nicole Freire
Ethiopia's star chicken dish, cooked with clarified butter and jam packed with spiced herbs.
"It's such amazing dish to ever indulge in."—Mozi
"It's popular for holidays and events. It also takes patience and mad skills to do it right."—Mahlet
Country: South Africa
It's a beloved dish created out of necessity. An Indian-South African invention designed to take away. Instead of on a plate with more traditional starches like rice, the curry is ladled into a loaf of bread which acts as a takeaway container and accompaniment to the main event. Originally vegetarian and from the seaside city of Durban, it's now often made with meat, satisfying the tastes of South African from all backgrounds.
The best place to get [bunny chow] is from Oyster Hotel in Durban."—Tasmika Ramkaran
Fufu & Palm Nut Soup
"Fufu" is a West African staple that encompasses most starches eaten by hand with a sauce or stew. Cassava fufu is probably the best known. Palm nut soup, like its Liberian cousin palm butter, is a Ghanaian classic made from the oil-rich palm fruit, cooked with chilis, tomatoes, garlic and other flavorful ingredients.
Very delicious! — Kofi Asiedu
Country: Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda
These deep fried treats are a ubiquitous East African snack that pair impeccably well with a cup of tea.
"Who doesn't like deep fried sweets?"—Nic
Country: Gambia, Sierra Leone
Visitors to Freetown will never forget the smell of plasas, a hearty stew made with leafy greens, meat, peppers, peanut sauce and often dried fish.
"It's literally the best food for every emotion and sickness! I swear it cures everything from a broken heart to a hangover"—Abigail
Yassa Guinar (Yassa Poulet)
"You can never go wrong with a well marinated and seasoned chicken that is accompanied by mouth-watering onion sauce that will leave you dreaming for days. This dish can be made in a way that suits the cook and the people that he/she is serving. Add a side of plantains, olives, peas & carrots, substitute the chicken for fish, or just go all out vegetarian; that is the beauty of yassa!"—Mousli
"Delicious and nutritious."—Ayo
Made with pounded beef and goat, this dish is a staple in Botswana and is often served during ceremonies and special events.Fun fact: Botswana is said to be the birthplace of watermelon.
Country: Nigeria, Ghana
Classic West African stew made with pounded melon seeds. You can't go wrong with egusi and a side of rice or fufu.
"Egusi is literally a blast of flavor in every bite. It's savory and pairs well with rice, eba or pounded yam. Simply delicious!"—Dara
Caldeirada de Cabrito
Country: Angola, Mozambique
This hearty goat meat and potato stew is eaten on special occasions like Angolan Independence Day. It's often seasoned with onion, garlic, bell peppers and a dash of piri piri sauce.
Country: Senegal, Nigeria, Ghana, Liberia, Togo, Benin, Mali, Cameroon, Sierra Leone, Gambia
This one's a no-brainer. It's West Africa's most cherished dish, perfect for large celebrations or at home. No surprise, describing which country with the best jollof is no small thing. The biggest rivalry is between Nigerians and Ghanaians so we brought together self-professed jollof experts on video to see whose was best once and for all.
Ndole & Plantains
Ndole is Cameroon's most popular dish, prepared using spinach, bitter leaf and stewed nuts. As our reader Ngum says, if you can't get to Douala to try it, some of the best versions of the dish can be found in Cameroonian restaurants in Paris.
"It's the most popular but NOT our national dish as foreigners often think. We don't have one!"—Ngum
Country: Kenya, Tanzania
Who doesn't like samosas? A common snack across East and Southern Africa, this deep fried meat or vegetable pastry pairs well with any meal and is a delightful snack on it's own.
"They all remind me of meals when I visit Kenya where we sit around the table as a family and talk and laugh." — Zilipah Cruz
Country: Nigeria, Niger, Ghana, Cameroon
"The spicy meat kabab is a delectable street food. Whenever I would have suya growing up, I would feel like I was being given a special treat. You just don't say no to suya.
I once had somewhat of a screaming match with my sister for finishing suya that my mom brought back from Nigeria. I just thought it to be so wildly inconsiderate of her. Yes, it's that serious.
I once heard about vegan suya—which I just can't see to wrap my head around. No shade. "—Damola
This comforting dish is made of cassava leaves and beans, cooked with onions garlic and peppers.
"Every time I go to a family meeting we eat this, it is part of all of my family memories."—Lucie
This slow cooked stew or casserole of meats and vegetables is named after the ornate pot that's it's cooked in. The ultimate one-dish comfort food.
"For its taste, infinite combinations, simplicity and symbolism... tajine reminds us of family and friends meeting. Waiting for the tajine to be brought, and enjoying beforehand the smell of the cooking smoke teases you in the meantime! The best part is probably when the host let you discover the content of the, still hot and savory, Tajine !
There are as many good tajines as families in Morocco ! "—Yassin
Nyma choma is Swahili for "grilled meats" and one of the country's most beloved dishes. Check out the video above on Kenya's popular street food.
Best memory: "When the boys finished all the goat ribs and we led an uprising to get our share."—Nepurko
Matoke and ground nut paste
Country: Uganda, Rwanda
Matoke is the green cooking banana that's a staple in Ugandan cuisine, paired with slow cooked peanut sauce, it makes for a uniquely tasty meal.
"Uganda being ethnically diverse, matooke is mostly eaten by the Bantu, however, it is eaten all over the country."—Sandra Martha Batakana
This spicy condiment is found all over Ghana. Made of chilli peppers and seafood—usually dried fish skin or shrimp—shito adds a spicy kick to any meal.
This popular Ugandan breakfast food combines eggs and vegetables wrapped in chapati. It's Uganda's very own breakfast sandwich.
"Rolex is now a top snack/food and was even ranked best African food by CNN."—Sandra Martha Batakana
Country: Cape Verde
Cachupa is a slow-cocked stew consisting of peas, sweet potato, beans, corn, carrots and fish or meat. Every mouthful offers warm, nourishing goodness.
"It's Cape Verde's most traditional dish."—Sara
Fufu with groundnut stew and okra
Pounded cassava served with a spicy peanut stew and okra, multiple variations on this dish are served in West Africa. A true classic.
"One of the best [food experiences] I've had was traveling with a Ghanaian friend in a small village where we entered a wooden shack and fufu and groundnut stew was the only food served. It was delicious! The spice made you sweat and cool off in the heat!"—Martha Ma
Country: South Africa
South Africans love their cows and sheep, and tripe this is one of the most beloved parts of the animal to eat. Mogodu is a classic, Southern African tripe dish that can be found anywhere in the country. Try it with spicy chakalaka relish.
Palmnut sauce with plantain fufu or omo tuo
Country: Côte D'Ivoire, Ghana, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Benin, Togo
"Growing up in France on the countryside, it was difficult for my mother to find the ingredients to make it so, we would only have it for special occasions. It was always on our Christmas menu."—Marie-Ange
Fun Fact: Another popular name for this stew is "Mama Put."
"It's spicy and delicious! Whenever I travelled to Abeokuta we would buy tens of them wrapped in banana leaves." —Motunde
This traditional Kenyan meal consists of beans and corn boiled together in a large flat bottom pot, of sufuria. I can also be made into a stew with meat and potatoes.
"[I like] eating it when sick, it makes a great dish to feed the body and soul."—Sarah
"It's my favorite Ghanaian dish. I love how the dish consists of 2 types of stew and the crazy thing is that they compliment each other so well! My first time visiting Ghana (we moved to Belgium). We went out on a Friday evening and, as it goes, on the way home we wanted some food to eat. So we stopped at this lady's stand on the way home and let me tell you, it was sooo good! She put the waakye in a big leaf which made it even better!"—Rebecca
Country: Côte D'Ivoire
Plantain boiled and pounded in the classic West African style, served with soup.
"The sweetness of the plantain make an excellent accompaniment to any savory, meaty sauce like sauce arachide or sauce graine, and I love its texture."—Cecile-Emmanuelle Ahipeaud Kenny
Country: Senegal, Mauritania
"First, it's the National Dish. Second, while Nigeria and Ghana fight over who has the best Jollof, the master and namesake country ( Senegal) is sitting in the corner with its special recipe and shaking its head. There were people in my neighborhood who would literally leave their house during lunchtime and go to another house. Why? Because the lady didn't cook thieb. Something I still don't get. And mind you some houses cook that stuff every single day. To this day. I think that's the only dish Senegalese people never get tired of." —Aminah
"Not only is isombe delicious, it's also very nutritious. Mommies-to-be (like me) love it because it provides all the nutrients we crave! Made with cassava leaves, palm oil and peanut sauce it's absolutely scrumptious with any starch! You can add meat or keep it vegan. Either way, it's number one in my book!"—Uwase
Country: Zambia, Zimbabwe
Kapenta is a type of small dried freshwater fish usually cooked in a savory tomato sauce and served with nshima or sadza—two names for the maize dish that's a staple of Zambian and Zimbabwean cooking.
Ukwa, eaten mostly in Eastern Nigeria, is a flavorful porridge made of breadfruit.
"It's savory, great texture and spices. It's delicious. This is my younger sister's favorite dish. I am picky, but I love this dish, too. I think any time it comes freshly cooked and hot in the plate...that first spoonful is heaven. And the rest is just bliss."—Olivia Obineme
A dish of grilled tilapia with a beans, boiled plantain, sweet potato, and cassava. A simple but savory meal that always hits the spot.
"I like beans a lot, and if I am going to get fancy this dish is it, a perfect combination of African vegetables, banana, fish and, of course, beans."—Jordy Pedro
Ewa Agoyin and Agege Bread
This dish consisting of boiled beans eaten with a spicy, pepper stew is a Nigerian favorite.
"We have many amazing dishes in Nigeria, but the soft feel of 'shingom,' Agege bread and hot agoyin goes straight to the brain :D" —Tochukwu Jerome Obiefule
The national dish of Madagascar is a soup consisting of beef, pork, greens, onions, tomatoes, and garlic slow-cooked in a pot. It is usually eaten with rice.
A round, sweet pastry like a thin pancake, malawah can be eaten with sugar and honey or with a savory stew. And it's great with Somali spiced milk tea.
"This is a great example of sweet and savory dish tasting AMAZING!!!! It's light but filling because of the beef sauce."—Hanan
Ugali, kienyeji mboga and mursik
Country: Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda
Ugali is East Africa's staple starchy food, made with corn flour and usually paired with greens and beef or chicken stew.
Attieke-poisson thon et alloco (cassava, couscous and fried tuna)
Country: Côte D'Ivoire
A dish of flaked cassava served with a tomato and onion sauce, along with fried tuna. The spices, with a side of fried plantains, create an unforgettable flavor combination.
"Because it's one of the best dish ever. It never disappoints. You can also be creative and have it with chicken [instead]."—Amandine Dago
Country: Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda
This dish of garlic, ginger, pepper, onions, and other spices is the East African rice that takes rice to another level.
"Amongst the rice debate in Africa this is often overlooked."—Patricia Awino
Country: Zambia, South Africa, Zimbabwe
This sweet corn bread is ussualy eaten hot out of the oven and is popular across Southern Africa.
Matapa (Cassava leaf stew)
This classic dish consists of cassava leaves cooked in coconut milk, with cashew nuts. It generally contains seafood like shrimp or crab.
This Nigerian staple, is made of black-eyed peas, onions and peppers, blended and steamed into a gelatin-like dish. Add some shrimp, fish, corned beef, or boiled egg and you have yourself a treat.
Country: Tanzania, Rwanda, Kenya, Uganda, Burundi
This refreshing salad consists of chopped tomatoes, onions, lemon and chili pepper. Kachumbari is an unbeatable side dish.
From Your Site Articles
- Diaspora Eats: 9 of the Best African Restaurants In Washington D.C. ... ›
- Diaspora Eats: 7 African Restaurants in New York City That You ... ›
- What Is Fufu? A Quick Guide to Africa's Staple Food - OkayAfrica ›
- 9 African Restaurants You Need To Try In Atlanta - OkayAfrica ›
- New York African Restaurant Week 2015: Akin Akinsanya On ... ›
- Diaspora Eats: 11 of the Best African Restaurants in Paris - OkayAfrica ›
- In Conversation: Chef Pierre Thiam Is Using Traditional African ... ›
- 8 African Restaurants You Need to Visit in São Paulo - OkayAfrica ›
- This Couple is Creating a New Line of Frozen West African Meals - OkayAfrica ›
- Somizi's Mouthwatering Cookbook Secures Top Spot - OkayAfrica ›
- 'Bantú Mama' Aims to Unlearn America As the Ultimate Destination of Happiness & Success - OkayAfrica ›
- The 7 Best East African Songs of the Month (July) - OkayAfrica ›
- Here's Your Ultimate Guide To Nigerian Street Food - OkayAfrica ›
- Here's Your Ultimate Guide To Nigerian Street Food - OkayAfrica ›
- The 20 Best East African Songs of 2021 - OkayAfrica ›
- The 6 Best East African Songs of the Month (January) - OkayAfrica ›
- How Nigerian Chef Hilda Baci Set a Guinness World Record - OkayAfrica ›
- Celebrating the African Influences in African American Cuisine - Okayplayer ›