Unique foods to taste in Africa

Unique foods to taste in Africa

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 at the top of the list The assorted African cuisine represents the culture and stories of yesteryear. 

Food prepared out in the open

Food prepared out in the open

In traditional practise, people combine seeds and plant-based ingredients to make African foods. Various cultures have influenced the cuisine of each region, shaping their culinary traditions. Food also varies from area to area within the region. 

Around the world, African food remains underrated and unfamiliar to people. During a trip, you can’t afford to miss out on the vast choice, refreshing flavors, and unique cuisine that Africa offers. No matter which country you visit, each has something decadent to offer.


We have put together eight delicious and unique foods to taste in Africa:


1. Jollof Rice, Nigeria

The Western African sub-region is vast, and it is difficult to pin down one national food from all countries. But one dish that the entire region loves is jollof rice. In addition to Nigeria, Ghana and Senegal also enjoy this food.

Tanzanian Joloff rice with meat

Tanzanian Joloff rice with meat

This cuisine is one of the most basic to make, but it is packed with flavour. The spicy one-pot dish comprises rice, tomatoes, peppers, and onions. Served with fish and meat, it can be enjoyed in various ways.  

Jollof rice is often served at parties and gatherings, making for a hearty meal.


2. Pap en vlies/ Shisa nyama, South Africa

Pap en vlies, also known as Shisa nyama, is considered 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 colourful umbrella term that encompasses a combination of braai and starch, or stewed beef. This exciting meal comes 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

The Tunisian people wholeheartedly enjoy eating Briks, a typical dish of the country. Briks consist of a paper-thin pastry filled with cheese, tuna, and an egg. Chefs shape it into a half-moon and deep-fry it to perfection. Briks have become a traditional fasting food in the month of Ramadan for Muslims.

Tunisian half moon-shaped briks dish

Tunisian half moon-shaped briks dish

The origins of Briks are still unclear, as people have documented the food in Central Asia and North Africa. Yet it continues to remain popular in Tunisia, where every restaurant and market offers it as street food. It makes for a perfect snack, and you can try it with a squeeze of lemon.

The flaky dough filled with savoury ingredients is addicting and impossible to stop at just one.


4. Muamba de Galinha, Angola

Also known as chicken Muamba, this dish is strongly influenced by Portuguese cuisine in the former colony. Today, it has become one of the best foods to eat in Angola. The marinated spices in the chicken provide an appetising meal. 

Flavorsome chicken muamba

Flavorsome chicken muamba

The dish has a spicy and slightly oily stew made with palm oil or palm butter. It is then stuffed with garlic, chilies, and okra. Chicken Muamba can be tried with regular African starchy porridges like fufu, funge, and ugali.

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 a comfort food for many Kenyans and a well-loved cuisine in the country. It was originally a Kikuyu staple, and many prominent runners from Kenya attribute their stamina to this dish.

Wholesome nyama na irio of Kenya

Wholesome nyama na irio of Kenya

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 in every other household in Kenya.


6. Matapa, Mozambique

Matapa is prepared with the help of nutritious ground cassava leaves. This dish, which is both healthy and delicious, is enjoyed throughout Mozambique.

Nutritive matapa served with rice

Nutritive matapa served with rice

A person grinds the cassava leaves by hand in a mortar and pestle. They then cook them together with coconut milk, garlic, and onions. Cashew nuts are abundant in Mozambique and also find their way into matapa.

Another variation of matapa called matapa de siri siri replaces cassava leaves with siri siri, a type of seaweed. Starchy foods such as xima, maize flour porridge, and rice are the best companions for enjoying Matapa.


7. Pilau, Tanzania

Pilau is a major dish in Tanzania and has its roots in Indian cuisine. Tanzanians adapted it into an East African staple that is now considered popular in Swahili-speaking regions.

Enticing Tanzanian pilau

Enticing Tanzanian pilau

Each country has its own 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, and black peppercorns. 

The cooking methods involve frying the onions and crushing spices, then adding them to the water. After washing the rice, you add it to the other ingredients. People regularly see Pilau at gatherings, weddings, and parties. Grilled meat or banana stews usually accompany pilau.


8. Bunny Chow, South Africa

Bunny chow is another unique food from 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.

The unique bunny chow

The unique bunny chow

This local meal has a variety of flavours in a hollowed-out white bread filled with a 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 you 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.


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