When one thinks of Africa, images of wildlife, safaris, and indigenous tribes pop up instantly. While all these are extremely popular on a typical African vacation, there is more to the continent.
The rich diversity and important history have made every part of Africa truly distinctive. Amidst game drives and other activities, trying out traditional cuisines in Africa must be on top of the list The assorted African cuisine represents the culture and stories of yesteryears.
Traditionally, African foods are made by a combination of seed and plant-based. Each region has been influenced by different cultures that have affected their cuisine as well. Food also varies from area to area, within the region.
Around the world, African food remains underrated and unfamiliar among people. The vast choice, refreshing flavors, and unique cuisine in Africa cannot be missed during a trip. No matter which country you visit, each has something decadent to offer.
We have put together 8 top delicious and unique foods to taste in Africa:
1. Jollof Rice, Nigeria
The Western African sub-region is vast and is difficult to pin down one national food from all countries. But one dish which is loved in the entire region is jollof rice. Besides Nigeria, this food is enjoyed by Ghana and Senegal countries as well.
This cuisine is one of the most basic to make but comes packed with flavor. The spicy one-pot dish comprises rice, tomatoes, pepper, and onions. Served with fish and meat, it can be relished in various ways.
Jollof rice is often served at parties and gatherings, making up for a hearty meal.
2. Pap en vlies/ Shisa nyama, South Africa
Pap en vlies, also known as Shisa nyama is considered to be an institution in Southern Africa. The dish is particularly popular in South Africa.
Pap en vlies translates to literal maze porridge and meat. It is a colorful umbrella term that encompasses a combination of braaied and starch or stewed beef. This exciting meal comes along with a side serving of chakalaka or spicy gravy.
Shisa nyama or ‘burn the meat’ in the Zulu language is accompanied by steak, chicken, chops, and spicy farmer’s sausage.
3. Briks, Tunisia
Briks is a typical Tunisian dish and eaten wholeheartedly in the country. It is a paper-thin pastry filled with cheese, tuna, and an egg. It is shaped into a half-moon and deep-fried. Briks has become a traditional fasting food in the month of Ramadan for Muslims.
The origins of Briks is still unclear as the food is documented in Central Asia along with North Africa. Yet, it remains popular in Tunisia, found in every restaurant and market as street food. It is a perfect snack and can be tried with a squeeze of lemon.
The flaky dough filled with savory ingredients is addicting and impossible to stop at just one.
4. Muamba de Galinha, Angola
Also known as chicken muamba, this dish is influenced strongly by Portuguese cuisine in the former colony. Today, it has become of the best foods to eat in Angola. The marinated spices in the chicken provide an appetizing meal.
The dish has spicy and slightly oily stew made with palm oil or palm butter. It is then stuffed with garlic, chilies, and okras. Chicken muamba can be tried with regular African starchy porridges like fufu, funge, and igali.
There are variations of chicken muamba available such as poulet muamba served with white rice and cassava leaves.
5. Nyama na irio, Kenya
Nyama na irio is comfort food for many Kenyans and a well-loved cuisine in the country. It originally is a Kikuyu staple and many prominent runners from Kenya attribute their stamina to this dish.
Nyama na irio is made of mashed potatoes, peas, corn, onion, and beans. To complete the meal, it is served with spiced roasted meat, giving off the subtle taste of spices and condiments. This food is common in the country and you can find it at every other household in Kenya.
6. Matapa, Mozambique
Matapa is prepared with the help of nutritious ground cassava leaves. The dish is both healthy and delicious, enjoyed all over Mozambique.
The cassava leaves are grounded by hand in a mortar and pestle. They are further cooked together with coconut milk, garlic, and onions. Cashew nuts are ample in Mozambique and also find their way in matapa.
Another variation of matapa called matapa de siri siri replaces cassava leaves with siri siri, a type of seaweed. Matapa is best enjoyed with starchy foods such as xima which is a maize flour porridge and rice.
7. Pilau, Tanzania
Pilau is a major dish in Tanzania and has its root in Indian cuisine. It was adapted by Tanzanians and into an east Africa staple which is now considered to be popular in Swahili-speaking regions.
Each country has its variations of this food, with different spices and ingredients. What remains common is rice as its base. Tanzanian pilau is aromatic and prepared in huge pots over open fires. It has five chief spices namely cinnamon, cardamom, cumin, cloves, black peppercorns.
The cooking methods include frying the onions, and crushing spices which are then added into the water. After the rice is washed clean, it is added with other ingredients. Pilau is regularly seen in gatherings, weddings, and parties. Grilled meat or banana stews usually accompany pilau.
8. Bunny Chow, South Africa
Bunny chow is another unique food of South Africa. Although its name mentions bunny, the dish does not have any rabbit meat. Instead, the term comes from ‘banya chow’, introduced first by the Durban Indian community.
This local meal has a variety of flavors in a hollowed-out white bread filled with sizzling hot curry. It is the perfect street food in South Africa.
The common ingredients in bunny chow include beans, cooked vegetables, and meat. The meat varies from chicken to beef and even lamb. This popular dish is one of the largest meals you can have in a day yet still come back for more.
Africa has a rich diversity which results in different variations in food. No matter the country you visit, Africa‘s cuisines stand out with their extremely delicious taste and interesting history behind their origins. Don’t forget to include the mouth-watering African foods mentioned the next time you visit the continent.
If you loved reading this story, then subscribe to our blog here (it will ask to verify your email) to get inspiring travel stories and trivia delivered to your email. Stories about wildlife trivia, cultural experiences, curated luxury hotel lists, underrated places to travel, polar journeys and much more.