ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

African Food and Recipes

Updated on August 9, 2015

Mt Kilimanjaro

Wikicommons | Source

Foods of Africa

How much does the average American know about Africa? Ahh, the “Dark Continent” and no, that’s not a racist remark, that term came from the days before Dr Livingston explored Africa and it meant that Africa was mysterious and unknown to Europeans. Turn on the news and we’re likely to hear about the latest famine, the most recent drought and some dysfunctional government in Africa. What do we learn about the people, the culture and the cuisine? Not very much. Many of us know more about ancient Egypt than we do about modern Africa. According to science, humanity originated in Africa some fifty thousand years ago so, in a sense we may all be Africans. If humankind came from Africa then the genesis of cooking is also African. Here in America Africa offers the last cuisine that is still novel and remains to be explored, African restaurants are few and far between but they are worth seeking out.

Kikuyu_woman_traditional_dress | Source


Ubunto is an African Humanist philosophy that says that you can't exist as a human being in isolation, we need each other and are all connected. Literally, "I am what I am because of who we all are." This might be a good idea for all of us to practice, learning to get along and help each other instead of playing the rugged individual how societies are made.

The continent of Africa

The continent of Africa is the second largest landmass on Earth, and is home to hundreds of different cultural and ethnic groups. There we find over 580 million people, more than 800 languages and over 50 countries. When the European powers colonized Africa, they carved up the land according to conquest and ignored the cultural and tribal areas that had an ancient history. With such a big subject, we will have to whittle it down to manageable proportions. Northern Africa has cuisines blended from Mediterranean, African and Middle Eastern countries; here we will look primarily at Sub-Saharan countries. To try to summarize such a large subject in a few pages we can only look at broad trends and styles.

Climate and geography are always the dominant factors that determine diet and cuisine and Africa has everything from scorching deserts and tropical rain forests to steppes (semiarid grasslands) and temperate climate areas. A third of all of the arid land of the world exists in Africa but 92 percent of the continent experiences climate contrasts, going from too much to too little rainfall in the same year. Throughout much of Africa man has been at odds with nature and climate and sometimes nature wins. Still, we are an adaptable species and man has persevered and lives in sever climates. Farmers have learned to adapt what they grow according to local climate and Africa has a long list of foods which are being lost and forgotten but which could yield the next super food if developed.

African Climate


The Baobob Tree, African Icon

The first icon of Sub-Saharan Africa may be the Baobab tree, which Dr Lingstone said, reminded him of a gigantic carrot growing upside down. The Baobab is also known as the “Tree of Life”, and “The Monkey Bread Tree, there is one Baobab tree that is supposed to be over 6 thousand years old, so it was already ancient at the time of Christ. Baobabs are used for food. The local people cook the leaves as a vegetable or dry and crush it for later use. The sprout of a young Baobab tree can be eaten like asparagus. The seeds are also edible and are roasted for use as a coffee substitute.


Cooking Techniques

The stereotype of cooking in sub-Saharan Africa is a woman standing and pounding roots or grain in a mortar with a long pestle yet the diversity of cultures means that any technique that you may use in your kitchen is being used somewhere in Africa. In fact, about the only technique without a long history in Africa is stir-frying. Slowly simmering stews of meats and poultry that require longer cooking times is iconic throughout Africa. Spending five hours preparing a meal is common in Africa both because of tradition and because meats tended to be tough and stringy. Many roots and grains are pounded or ground and cooked with water into a thick porridge to provide the bulk accompanied by a stew or relishes. As in any cuisine built from scarcity, meat or seafood is expensive and often used to flavor the starch or vegetables rather than as the main ingredient. For much of rural Africa food is more important than money; livestock are more valuable as an asset and a status icon than as food; food spoilage by climate or pests is widespread. Distant markets are not available due to insufficient roads or vehicles or both.

Kolanuts from Africa

The image shows the kola nut seed pod with the tough husk cut by half longitudinally exposing the nuts and their yellow fleshy covering. In the foreground the image shows the individual nuts removed, cleaned of their covering and broken along their n
The image shows the kola nut seed pod with the tough husk cut by half longitudinally exposing the nuts and their yellow fleshy covering. In the foreground the image shows the individual nuts removed, cleaned of their covering and broken along their n | Source

Spicy and Starchy

Like many tropical countries, the food of Africa tends to be spicy hot. Chilies, introduced during the slave trade from the Americas are important in all of Africa. Theories abound as to why places with hot climates tend to favor hot foods. First of all that’s where the spices grow! Add to that various ideas that spices stimulate the appetite, spices are healing, spices retard food spoilage, spices hide the flavor of food that is going bad, spices aid digestion, spices rid the gut of parasites, spicy foods make you sweat, that cleanses the pores & cools you and of course hot foods cause the release of endorphins, getting you high. Whew! That’s a long list so take your pick; there will always be someone to agree with you and someone that disagrees.

Many of the foods we eat everyday originated in Africa. Wheat, barley, oats, millet, Blackeye peas, sorghum, tamarind (part of Worcestershire sauce), okra, yams (not sweet potatoes), watermelon, cantaloupe, sesame, cumin and sugar beets all originated in Africa. That Coke or Pepsi in your fridge owes its flavor to the cola nut, which comes from a tree native to Africa although many manufacturers today create their flavors in a lab. While peanuts originated in South America, they came to the US by way of African slaves. Cassava (manioc/tapioca) is native to the Americas but is an important food crop in Africa. Aframomum melegueta pepper also known as Grains of Paradise with a flavor somewhere between cardamom and coriander is indigenous to Africa and is promoted as an ingredient in Samuel Adams Summer Ale here at home.


Culinary Regions

Before the European colonization of Africa and intercontinental trade, the staples of the African diet were rice, sorghum, millet, barley and lentils. Starting around 200 to 300 AD the Arabs brought dried fruits, rice, mangoes, citrus, black pepper, ginger and other spices by way of trans-Saharan camel caravans. By 500 AD traders introduced bananas and coconuts from Malaysia. Muslim influence began around 700 AD and spread rapidly throughout the continent. For hundreds of years there was an Indian Ocean slave trade when Muslim Arabs and Iranians traded goods for slaves. By the 15th century, the Europeans arrived and started colonizing Africa. The colonies of France, Great Britain, the Netherlands, Italy, Spain, and Portugal are gone but their influence on local cuisines remains.

Africa has five culinary/geographical regions (not geo-political areas) that derived variations of cuisine depending on their contact with the rest of the world. The regions are Ethiopia, West Africa, East Africa, Portuguese Africa and South Africa.

African Food Adventures 13 part series

Ethiopian Meal with Injera



Ethiopia was already ancient at the time of Christ. Remember the Queen of Sheba? She ruled Ethiopia. Ethiopia was never colonized by the European powers so the cuisine here may be the most authentically African. Go to an open-air market to buy spices for spices for the Wat , spicy stews. Wat is the dish of Ethiopia of Ethiopia cooked in every home. The grain, called Tef , a type of millet is used to make Injera-- the unleavened bread that comes out something like a thick pancake, prepared today as it was a thousand years ago. On fast days people eat Alechi: a kind of vegetarian stew. With over 200 fast days, vegetarian alternatives to meat are important to Ethiopians, Coptic Christianity is dominant with Islam also present so pork is forbidden. The meats on sale are beef, lamb, and goat. In Africa, utensils are not usually used at the dinner table; you would take your food from a communal platter with your right hand using a piece of injera. With everyone eating with his or her hands, hand washing before meals is a must and has developed into a ritual, especially before any formal dinner the first “course” consists of washing your hands.. Some meats are eaten raw, much like we might eat Steak Tartare or Carpaccio but in Ethiopia (and most of Africa) raw meat is eaten with Berbere and Berbere might be hot enough to make you think it is cooking the meat. Those who may consume alcohol may drink Tej an Ethiopian honey wine similar to the Mead of Europe and Hydromel of ancient Greece. There is a local beer, called Tella, made of wheat or barley and flavored with Gesho, a local type of hops. The coffee of Ethiopia is legendary and the locals will tell you that coffee has its origins in Ethiopia, here the coffee is named for the place called Kaffa where wild coffee is said to still grow. Some meats are eaten raw, much like we might eat Steak Tartare or Carpaccio but in Ethiopia (and most of Africa) raw meat is eaten with Berbere a Berbere might be hot enough to make you think it is cooking the meat.


West Africa

West Africa, Ghana in West Africa is the place we acquire those grand woodcarvings that rival Western. West Africa is where we find Mt Kilimanjaro and the sapphire waters of Lake Victoria. Lions, hyenas, gorillas, elephants and all the iconic creatures of Africa are all here, some in protected parks. Trade with the Arab world brought cinnamon and rice into their cuisine; those items have become central parts of their culinary traditions. From Senegal in the north to Cameroon in the south, West Africa was where Europeans went to get slaves. The slave trade with the West introduced peanuts, tomatoes and chilies all, which define the local cuisine. Corn, cassava and plantains also came in from the West. West Africa's most celebrated dish is peanut stew, any meat (or none at all) can go into this one-pot dish as long as the cook adds lots of peanuts, tomatoes, onions and chilies. Palm nut oil is the dominant cooking oil and it has a distinct flavor and a red color that adds to the dish. Grains of Paradise (Aframomum melegueta pepper) are an important seasoning used in many dishes. Vegetables are a vital part of the diet here and chilies are ubiquitous spicing up some otherwise bland dishes. Fufu is a common dish here, dipped in a spicy sauce and popped in your mouth, Fufu is not chewed but swallowed whole. Seafood is important here with a long coastline but move inland and the meat of choice is likely to be goat or chicken. Thiebou Diene, or tieboudienne, is Senegal's national fish-and-rice served on a communal platter with each diner’s portion being served on a scoop of rice. The Ashanti people treat the humble yam with almost reverence, using it in rituals celebrating marriage, birth and death. Cassava (tapioca) backs up the yam in the diet providing a large part of daily calories and in Ghana is made into a type of flour called Ghari, ( Gari, Garri, Lebu.) Most of West Africa is tropical savanna and if you venture into remote area you will still find people subsisting on bush meat delicacies like cane rat, gazelle and monkey meat. Here you will find women cooking outside in a pot over an open fire with meats wrapped in banana leaves and stews made with starchy roots.

Somali Food
Somali Food | Source
Djibouti market
Djibouti market | Source

East Africa

While Ethiopia is mostly Coptic Christian the rest of East Africa is predominantly Muslim so the diet is in accordance with Muslim dietary laws. Foods may be either ḥalāl (lawful) or ḥarām (unlawful). East Africa is cool and dry compared to the rest of Africa. Culinary East Africa comprises Somalia and Somaliland, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi and Rwanda. A better climate and contact with Arab slave traders colored the local cuisine. Eastern African foods utilize the same grains for breads and porridges as the rest of Africa and stews are cooked with the same vegetables and meat. Coconut milk plus curry and a variety of spices shows some Indian and Asian influence on the cuisine. The Arab influence is displayed in the local use of saffron, cloves, cinnamon, several other spices, and pomegranate juice. The Portuguese brought foods from the New World and Asia like chilies, corn, and tomatoes. There are cattle keeping people here but they do not usually eat the meat. Cattle, sheep and goats are a form of currency and they would no more eat a cow than we would sit down to a plateful of twenties. The climate allows for more use of fresh milk and butter and this is how they make use of their cattle. The Massai tribe even consumes the blood of their cattle especially on special occasions.

Guinea_Dinguiraye_market | Source
Mozambique Maputo-_2011-_food_preparation
Mozambique Maputo-_2011-_food_preparation | Source

Portuguese Africa

Portuguese is spoken in five African states: Angola, Mozambique, Guinea-Bissau, Cape Verde, and São Tomé and Príncipe. How did a relatively small country like Portugal come to have such a large sway over Africa? During the 15th century Europe was ravaged by the Black Plague, Europe that is, except for little Portugal which was protected by its physical isolation. Portugal took full advantage of its isolation from Europe as well as a long contact with Islam where the Portuguese gained advanced maritime knowledge and they explored West Africa. Portuguese brought with them their talents for flavoring with spices and their techniques of roasting and marinating, blending them with local African cuisine and ingredients to produce spicy dishes that border on the incendiary. Over time they brought oranges, lemons and limes from their colonies in Asia. From Brazil, their colony in South America, they brought chilies, peppers, corn, tomato, pineapples, banana and the domesticated pig. The chili pepper from South America may be Portugal’s biggest contribution to African food. In Africa these peppers are known as "African birds eye", or "African red devil". These peppers are the base for "piri-piri" sauce (also known as peri-peri). For dessert, you might be served Cocada amarela, a custard made with coconut and lots of eggs

Cuisine South Africa
Cuisine South Africa | Source

Southern Africa

This is called the Rainbow Cuisine because itoffers a blend of many cuisines from European, to Asian, to native African and Malaysian, there is something for everyone here. By the time the Europeans arrived the locals were already growing grains, pumpkins, beans and leafy greens and raising cattle, sheep and goats. These different tribes made use of all that was available from Ostrich eggs and antelope to abalone and seals. The ancient practice of drying meat has been raised to a modern art form here in the form of Biltong and Kilishi. Southern African love barbecue but here it is called "braai." Milk has always had a place in Southern Africa although the lack of refrigeration led to most milk products being consumed as cultured or fermented products similar to our yogurt and buttermilk. Early settlers and later the "Voortrekkers " (migrant farmers) were influenced by the local "Khoi " and the "San " tribes, adding their knowledge of wild edible plants and herbs and these in their "Potjies " (cooking pots).
Starting in 1658 the Dutch East India Company imported slaves from Malaysia and Java and many of these women became household cooks in the homes of the settlers. These people eventually became known as the Cape Malay and they have an enormous influence over the cuisine. Their fame came from an ability to combine Asian spices with local foods to develop an early “Fusion” cuisine. Another 200 years later came indentured laborers from India and they brought a love of curry and the spices and foods of India. Later still, French Huguenots came to escape religious persecution and they introduced viniculture beginning South Africa’s wine industry. Germans and British came too but they had comparatively little influence over the cuisine.

Commercial Amasi
Commercial Amasi | Source


Milk production is a problem in tropical countries. Dairy herds cannot be raised safely and economically due to disease. Lacking a history of consuming dairy products, many Africans are lactose intolerant. Where milk was produced, the lack of refrigeration was a big problem but the answer was Amasi, a fermented milk food that lies somewhere between yogurt and cheese in consistency. Amasi turns out to be a powerful probiotic with high levels of lactic acid which kills E.coli bacteria . Cheese production in Africa is concentrated in South Africa with some minor cheeses coming from Egypt and an interesting camel milk cheese coming from Mauritania called Caravane, produced by Tiviski dairy.

African Horned_melon
African Horned_melon | Source


Some of the everyday fruits in Africa would be considered a little bit exotic here. Africans eat bananas, mangoes, papaya, dragon fruit, horned melons, mangosteens, Suriname cherries, passion fruit, guava, coconut, pineapple, blackcurrants, soursop apples, Avogadro pear, nectarines ,dates, figs, to name a few.


Biltong | Source


There is a considerable difference between urban and rural diets in modern Africa. In rural areas where cattle are still considered a sign of wealth and status, beef is seldom used for food. Some forest animals, antelope, elephant, and oxen are still used for food by poor people in rural areas Mice are eaten as well as black and red ants and caterpillars and some types of grasshopper. Pigs (not used by Muslims), goats and sheep are all raised and used as food here and a pair of breeding goats may make the difference between famine and subsistence for a rural African family.

Youtube goats for Africa

Rice farming in Sierra Leone
Rice farming in Sierra Leone | Source

Fish and seafood

Fish and seafood are commonly only eaten close to their sources, such as in coastal areas, or near lakes, streams or rivers. There is a small and declining fishing industry in Africa but millions of the poor depend on fish as a source of protein and micronutrients'

In the photo at right we can see the size of a Nile Perch compared to the man that caught it.

Nile Perch is NOT the same fish as Tilapia which are becoming common in US markets


Most of us think of rice as an Asian grain from the vast agriculture of Far Eastern river deltas. Rice in fact is from Asia, and 90 percent of it—the main source of calories for 2.7 billion people—is grown there. Nevertheless, Africa has been growing and eating rice (Oryza glaberrima ) for some 15 hundred years. It probably arose in the flood basin of the central Niger and prehistoric Africans carried it to Senegal, to the Guinea coast, and eastward as far as Lake Chad. The original variety of rice grown is Africa is different and less productive than Asian rice (Oryza sativa ) and as a result Asian rice has taken over as the dominant variety now being grown in Africa. There are varieties of rice growing around the world in the tropics but only African and Asian rice has been domesticated as cereal grains.

Finger Millet
Finger Millet | Source


The only time many of us in the West will ever see millet is in the birdseedwe buy for our feathered friends. Native to Africa, millet probably originated in the highlands of Uganda and Ethiopia. In parts of eastern and southern Africa as well as in India, it has been a staple for millions of people. Annual world production is at least 4.5 million tons of grain, of which Africa produces perhaps 2 million tons. Finger millet is one of the most nutritious cereal crops including some varieties which have high levels of methionine, an amino acid lacking in the diets of hundreds of millions of the poor who live on starchy foods such as cassava and plantain.

Sorghum Head
Sorghum Head | Source


What do you know about sorghum? Grain sorghum is the fifth most important cereal crop grown in the world. Here in the States we use sorghum mostly as a food crop for animals and sweet sorghum, grown to make sorghum molasses. In much of the world sorghum is a valuable human food crop. Sorghum is drought and heat tolerant and the nutritional profile compares well against our common crops like corn, wheat and even soy. Sorghum in Africa is processed into a very wide variety of attractive and nutritious traditional foods, such as semi-leavened bread, couscous, dumplings and fermented and non-fermented porridge's. It is the grain of choice for brewing traditional African beers. Sorghum is also the grain of 21st century Africa, new products like instant porridge are on the shelves now in Africa and sorghum is gaining in popularity here for the gluten intolerant. The flavor of sorghum is neutral to slightly sweet so it blends well with a variety of dishes.
Kaffir (Sorghum bi-color) Better be careful with this word, in Africa kaffir is often used as an insult especially in southern Africa as a disparaging term for a Black person. For our purposes it is a tropical African variety of sorghum grown in dry regions and in the Great Plains for grain and forage. Also called kaffir corn. No relation to the kaffir lime of Southeast Asia culinary use.

Bambara nut unearthed


Bambara Groundnuts

Also known as jugo beans, cokon, njugumawe, ntoyo, katoyo, mbwiila, tindluwa, Kwam, Ngamgala and many others
From Portuguese and West Africa Bambaras are a foodstuff that is little known outside of Africa but it can be a big difference for someone on a subsistence diet. Bambaras grow like peanuts underground but they grow in poor soil and under drought conditions. High nutritive value with 65% carbohydrate and 18% protein which is somewhat less protein than the peanut. "Due to its high protein value it is a very important crop for poorer people in Africa who cannot afford expensive animal protein.

Green Cardamom
Green Cardamom | Source
Cassava Dough
Cassava Dough | Source
Taro root
Taro root | Source


BITTERLEAFOrugbo, Onugbo, Ewuro, Mojunso (East Africa – especially Tanzania)

Bitter leaf is derived from the leaves of a small ever-green shrub found all over Africa called Vernonia, belonging to the family Asteraceace. Bitterleaf contains saponins and tannins which should be washed away during the cooking. Many health benefits are supposed to belong to eating bitterleaf but there are also health warnings. Eaten fresh like spinach or as an ingredient is soups and stews

CARDAMOM Although cardamom originated in India, it is an essential spice in most of Africa. It is intense and to a Western palate it may be an acquired taste but a little goes a long way and its aromatic resiny presence is vital to some dishes. There are several types of cardamom on the market, black or brown cardamom has a very smoky flavor but the best way to buy cardamom is either green or white, in the shell cardamom. Cardamom in the shell lasts a very long time but you have to grind your own as needed. Unless you sho0p in a very unusual store it is best to buy cardamom in an ethnic market or online source where the spices sell quickly.

COCOYAM, Taro, Elephant Ears, Dasheen, Arrow root, Nduma, kolkas , potato of the tropics, many others.
This plant probably originated in Malaysia but it spread around the world to humid tropical areas everywhere. If you went to a Hawaiian Luau and tasted the poi you were tasting the taro plant. The elephant ear plants in my Florida garden are one form of taro. Both the leaves and corms (roots) are edible when cooked and toxic when raw. The calcium oxalate in the leaves and corms irritate mucous membranes and allow taro’s other toxins to penetrate your body. If you suffer from kidney stones or gout this is a food to avoid. Ten percent of the world’s population depends on taro as a staple in the diet. The corms, are roasted, baked or boiled and the natural sugars give a sweet nutty but rather bland flavor. The leaves are a good source of vitamins A and C and contain more protein than the corms. There are two types of edible cocoyams, namely the Dasheen and Eddoe that differ in terms of size and shape of the corms. The Dasheen produces a large, barrel-shaped central corm surrounded by several smaller cormels. The Eddoe, on the other hand, produces smaller mother corms than the Dasheen and has numerous cormels around the central corm.

CASSAVA (Manihot esculenta ), yuca , mogo, manioc, mandioca and kamoting kaoy Tapioca

Not to be confused with yucca, a shrubby perennial with sword shaped leaves native to hot arid areas. Cassava is another important food in the tropics supplying a staple food for half a billion people. Like other tropical roots this is toxic when raw, this time due to the presence of cyanide! Cassava can be either “sweet” or “bitter” depending on the amount of cyanide in the root but, surprisingly many farmers prefer to grow the bitter variety because pests and animals leave it alone. Native to Brazil, cassava was brought to Africa by Portuguese traders. Since that time cassava has edged out more traditional African crops. Africans grind up the roots into cassava flour. From this flour, they make a porridge, which is known as ugali. When cassava is improperly processed and cyanide remains in the food eating it can cause permanent leg paralysis and other symptoms that are indicative of konzo. Konzo is the name of a food borne illness caused by cyanide poisoning, still, millions depend on cassava for sustenance.

"Spices in preparation for making berbere. Clockwise from top left: nej asmud (white pepper), korarima, tikur asmud (black pepper), and abesh (or abish; fenugreek). These and tchew (ጨው; salt) are added to dried and ground red pepper to make berbere"
"Spices in preparation for making berbere. Clockwise from top left: nej asmud (white pepper), korarima, tikur asmud (black pepper), and abesh (or abish; fenugreek). These and tchew (ጨው; salt) are added to dried and ground red pepper to make berbere" | Source
Sumac | Source

FENUGREEK In Ethiopia fenugreek is an important herb/spice with Indian parentage. “The seeds’ aroma and taste are strong, sweetish, and somewhat bitter, reminiscent of burnt sugar.” In Sub-Saharan Africa fenugreek is also used as fodder. Fenugreek is an important part of the mixture of spices we know as curry powder

SUMAC is another important spice in Africa used to add a lemony note to some dishes. Sumac is an important ingredient in the spice mixture Za'atar is available online and this spice by itself can give you a hint of the flavors of the Middle East and Africa. Dip a bit of flat bread in olive oil and add a sprinkle of Za'atar for a treat and genuine flavor.

Not to be confused with sweet potatoes the yam can be barbecued; roasted; fried; grilled; boiled; baked; smoked and processed into a dessert recipe. Yams are the staple crop of the Igbo people of Nigeria, in their language it is

Ethiopian Alicha
Ethiopian Alicha | Source
Biriyani | Source

A selection of African dishes.

Akara, (also known as accra, akara, akla, binch akara, bean balls, kosai, koose, kose, koosé, and kwasi)
In West Africa, these black eye pea fritters are commonly prepared at home for breakfast, for snacks, or as an appetizer or side dish. They are also fast-food, sold by vendors on the street, in marketplaces, and at bus stations.

Alechi, Alicha
A milder version of the Ethiopian wat, this one seasoned with Alicha blend of spices

Banga soup (also called palm nut soup) West Africa, is a soup made from the juice squeezed from palm fruit (Elaeis guineensis). Palm nuts and fruit yield an important food oil used throughout Africa

Banku/Akple: Ghana, fermented corn/cassava dough mixed and cooked into a smooth white paste. Served with soup, stew or a pepper sauce with fish.

A spice mixture, whose ingredients usually include chili peppers, garlic, ginger, dried basil, korarima, (a species in the ginger family) rue, (a bitter evergreen shrub) white and black pepper and fenugreek. An important ingredient in a wat, sometimes used as a paste served with raw meat.

Biryani, biriani, or beriani
Another popular dish in Africa, biryani is a group of rice-based dishes made with spices, rice and meat, fish, eggs or vegetables. The name is derived from the Persian word beryā which means "fried" or "roasted". This is one that has spread around the world wherever rice is eaten and for good reason, rice makes an excellent base for a variety of dishes that bear some similarity to biryani, thing arroz con pollo or paella. Recipe

If South Africa had a national dish bobotie would be the main contender. A little bit like our meatloaf and a little like a Greek patitsio, bobotie displays a variety of delicious influences with curry powder, turmeric sultanas and orange leaves seasoning a minced meat dish and a custard topping. If there is one African dish to try this is it. Recipe below

Braai, Grilled meat or barbecue, South African style Recipe

Chicken Biryani Recipe

Bobotie Recipe


2 Pounds minced lamb or beef, or a mixture of the two

2 Tablespoons butter,

2 onions, chopped

2 cloves crushed garlic

1 tablespoon curry powder

1 teaspoon ground turmeric

2 slices bread, crumbled

1/4 cup milk

1/2 small lemon, finely grated rind and juice

1 egg

1/2 teaspoon salt,

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/3 Cup dried apricots, chopped

1 Granny Smith apple peeled, cored and chopped or any cooking apple

1/4 cup sultanas (golden raisins)

1 1/2 ounces slivered almonds, roasted in a dry frying pan

6 bay leaves, or if you have a tree, use lemon or orange tree leaves.


1 cup milk

3 eggs

1/2 teaspoon salt


Set the oven at 325°F. Butter a large casserole. Heat butter and oil in a saucepan and fry the onion and garlic until translucent. Stir in the curry powder and turmeric, and cook. Remove the pot from the heat.

Mix in the minced meat. Mix together the crumbs, milk, lemon rind and juice, egg, salt, pepper, apricots, apple, golden raisins and almonds and mix in. Pile into the casserole and level the top. Roll up the leaves and bury them at regular intervals. Seal with foil and bake for 1 1/4 hours. Increase the oven temperature to 400°F. Mix together the topping milk, eggs and salt pour over and bake uncovered for a further 15 minutes until cooked and lightly browned. Serve with Yellow Rice and Blatjang . (a type of chutney made from apricots) or use bottled chutney.Bobotie

Egusi seeds unshelled
Egusi seeds unshelled | Source
Kitcha Fit Fit
Kitcha Fit Fit | Source
Injera_fit-fit with jalapeno peppers
Injera_fit-fit with jalapeno peppers | Source
Fu Fu
Fu Fu | Source

Cambuulo A common Somali dinner dish, is made of well-cooked azuki beans mixed with butter and sugar.

Cocada amarela, Portuguese,a custard made with coconut and lots of eggs Recipe

Dabo kolo, Ethiopian This is a spicy, crunchy snack bread. In Ethiopia, dabo means bread, and kolo is the word for roasted barley,

A Nigerian soup, prepared with melon seeds,. Egusi is a type of watermelon called Citrullus lanatus grown in West Africa. The seeds are ground and cooked in a spiced soup with various meats, frequently goat, and fish or shellfish. Here we may have to substitute pumpkin seeds but egusi seeds are available online. Recipe

Fit-fit is an Eritrean and Ethiopian food typically served for breakfast made of shredded injera or kitcha possibly with berbere and Niter Kibbeh

Fufu. Asbah Kazi; foofoo, foufou, foutou
A staple food of West and Central Africa, made by boiling starchy vegetables like cassava, yams or plaintains and then pounding them into a dough-like consistency. Fufu is eaten by taking a small ball of it in one's fingers and then dipping into an accompanying soup or sauce.

Canjeelo Somali injera
Canjeelo Somali injera | Source

Githeri Kenyan traditional dish of beans cooked with corn also be made into a stew with the addition of greens, meat and potatoes. We might call it succotash but githeri is made with dried corn and beans

Hilbet, Eritrean, a bean paste usually made with lentilsand or fava beans and served with injera

Injera, (Ethiopia) Canjeelo (Somalia), lahooh, lahoh, (Yemen) Chapati (Kenya and India) taita,(Eritrea)
Injera is the staple Ethiopian flat bread, made from fermented teff, a type of millet grain, teff is mixed with water and sometimes a little yeast and allowed to ferment for a few days. The fermentation adds gas bubbles and provides a sour tang to the final product. The bubbly batter is cooked on a flat grill called a 'Mitad' like we cook pancakes. Injera becomes the tablecloth for some meals, where the table is covered with injera and it is used to roll up bits of food and transport those bits to your mouth.

Injera Recipe


1 package active dry yeast (or 1 Tablespoon)

5 cups warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)

1 Tablespoon honey

3 cups finely ground millet flour

1/4 teaspoon baking soda


1. Dissolve yeast in 1/4 cup of the water. Add honey and wait for the mixture to become foamy (about 15 minutes) add the remainder of the water and the millet flour. Stir until smooth and then cover. This will be a batter about the consistency of pancake batter. Allow to stand at room temperature for 24 hours.

2. The next day stir the batter well and mix in the baking soda.

3. Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium heat. Pour about 1/3 cup of the batter into the pan in a spiral pattern to cover the bottom of the pan evenly. Work quickly and swirl the pan to even out the batter. Cover the pan and allow to cook for about 1 minute. The bread should only brown and rise slightly and be very easy to remove. It is cooked only on one side. This top should be slightly moist, like a crumpet. Remove to a platter and cool. Stack the cooked breads on a plate.

Jollof rice
Jollof rice | Source
Lahoh | Source
Oil palm fruits needed for Moambe stew
Oil palm fruits needed for Moambe stew | Source
opian Wat
opian Wat | Source
Yeshimbra Assa
Yeshimbra Assa | Source
Peri-peri sauce varieties
Peri-peri sauce varieties
Potjiekos | Source
Lablab platter with Sambal sauce
Lablab platter with Sambal sauce | Source
Sosaties | Source
Ugali w relishes
Ugali w relishes | Source

Jollof Rice also called 'Benachin' meaning one pot in the Jollof language. FromWest Africa, Jollof Rice probably originated from rice dishes eaten by the Wolof people of Senegal and Gambia, but its popularity has spread to most of West Africa, especially Nigeria and Ghana. Based on rice, tomatoes and usually meat or fish, it is thought to be the origin of Cajun jambalaya. Spices and peppers are according to the taste of the cook. Recipe

Kaimati ya Ndizi East African Swahili dish of banana fritters seasoned with cardamom, something like a banana flavored donuts

Kitcha or Kita Eritrean, flat, unleavened, herbed wheat bread served as an alternative to injera

Kuku Paka, Kenyan, chicken coconut curry, served with rice, or Cambuulo

Lahoh, Lahooh, Laxoox Somalia, Is a spongy flatbread made of sorghum flour and allowed to ferment before it is cooked on a flat griddle.

Mahamri East African fried bread seasoned with cardamom, served for breakfast and as a side dish with traditional stews

Matumbo Kenyan dish of stewed tripe (cow’s stomach lining) seasoned with coconut milk, curry and coriander

Moambé Stew is a traditional Congolese recipe for a classic dish of meat cooked with chilies, tomatoes and greens with the fruit and oil of the African oil palm (Elaesis guineensis). Moambé stew can be made with beef, chicken, fish, mutton, or any wild game meat. If peanut butter is used, the dish is transformed into Muamba Nsusu.

Mealie/Mielie Corn/maize

Niter Kibbeh niter qibe also called tesmi (in Tigrinya), (Ethiopian spiced clarified butter)
Is a common cooking ingredient in Ethiopian cuisine. Its preparation is similar to that of ghee, but niter kebbeh is simmered with spices such as cumin, coriander, turmeric, cardamom, cinnamon, or nutmeg before straining.

Piri Piri Sauce A Portuguese inspired hot pepper sauce made with local "African birds eye", or "African red devil" peppers, garlic, onion, citrus peel, herbs and oil, piri piri can be blistering hot depending on the peppers used and the temperament of the cook.

Potjekos is a traditional Afrikaner stew made with meat and vegetables and cooked over coals in cast-iron pots. Potje is a Dutch word meaning pot so, in South Africa this always means one thing, food prepared outdoors in a cast iron, round, three legged pot using either wood coals or charcoal. Old time Voortrekkers (Dutch, Africaaner pioneers) first developed this as a way of cooking wild game. Each day when the wagons stopped, the pot was placed over a fire to simmer. Whatever meat they were able to acquire was added to the pot

Sambal When an African wants to spice up one of those bland but filling grain or root dishes like Fufu, sambal is the place to turn. Sambal has Indonesian origins but is popular in the Sudan as a sauce or dip to accompany a raw vegetable salad called Lalab. Sambals range from spicy to inferno in heat.

Shiro In Ethiopia shirois almost a porridge made with powdered chickpeas or broad beans. It is usually prepared with onions, garlic and sometimes ground ginger or chopped tomatoes and chili-peppers. Shiro is usually served atop injera, however, it can be cooked and eaten with a spoon.

Sosaties traditional South African dish of meat (usually lamb or mutton) cooked on skewers.

Suya, Skewered food like a shish kabob, popular in West Africa, originally from the Hausa people of northern Nigeria and Niger.

Tsebhis Ethiopian: sauces

Ugali, also called sima, sembe kimyet, ngima, kuon, nkima,nshima , nsima, obokima, ogi, posho, Sadza, pap, tuo zaafi, in different places and with other foods East African dish of cornmeal or other grain, cooked with water to a porridge- or dough-like consistency, like a thick cornmeal mush. It is the most common staple starch of much of Africa. There are many names and variations on porridge made from the roots and grains of Africa

Mageu Fermented but non-alcoholic drink made from Mealie pap (cornmeal mush)

Uji Kenyan, a fermented thin porridge made from millet and corn which is mixed with water and allowed to ferment naturally for three or four days when it is boiled into the final dish. Usually eaten for breakfast.

A traditional dish of the Xhosa people in South Africa made of samp and cowpeas. Samp is very similar to American hominy: both are de-hulled dried corn. In the case of samp, however, the corn kernels are crushed or broken into pieces which are easier to cook and eat. Umnqusho is said to be president Nelson Mandela’s favorite food.

Vegetables A few of the traditional vegetables eaten in Africa are listed below but there are many names for each
mchunga (wild lettuce)
mwappa (cassava leaves)
kitoja (sweet potato leaves)
matosa (yam leaves)
mrenge (pumpkin leaves)

Wat, W'et, Wet, Wett
Spicy Ethiopian stew may be made vegetarian with chicken (Doro Wat) or various meats seasoned with berbere and served with injera

Yeshimbra Assa – Ethiopian, Chickpea "fish" and Sauce, a typical Lenten dish for Ethiopian Coptic Christians, this is another of the many vegetarian dishes of Ethiopia. Chickpea flour is shaped to resemble fish and fried.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • chefsref profile imageAUTHOR

      Lee Raynor 

      7 years ago from Citra Florida

      Gypse, Spy, Craig, Ellen and Anon

      Thanx for reading and comments, glad you stopped by


    • unknown spy profile image

      Life Under Construction 

      7 years ago from Neverland

      Amazing..and very 'mysterious' recipe well since haven't seen or tasted it before :)

    • Gypsy Rose Lee profile image

      Gypsy Rose Lee 

      7 years ago from Daytona Beach, Florida

      WOW interesting. This is one terrific hub. All this information is so fascinating. Thanks for sharing. Passing this on.

    • profile image

      craig R 

      7 years ago

      Hey Chef ,

      A very interesting and informative....

      Having eaten at an Ethiopian restaurant in NYC , now out of business , I can attest to the fact that unless you can easily tolerate HOT and Spicy don't drink bourbon while having the absolutly delicious Sauteed Kidneys with Injera !......Unfortunately I never made it back before they closed , a great disappointment since unlike Zimmern I doubt I'll be traveling the world sampling all its edibles and cuisine's...........

      Thanks for an excellent Hub...........

      Craig R.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Wow, what an interesting article! You write very well!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Great article! Thanks.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)