8 Most Popular West African Dishes

From Mauritania to Cameroon, this part of the world isn’t known as a culinary superstar, yet some great dishes can be found here.

8 Most Popular West African Dishes

From Mauritania to Cameroon, this part of the world isn’t known as a culinary superstar, yet some great dishes can be found here.

Hi, we’re Rach & Marty!

We’ve visited every country in the world and want to help you get the most out of your travels!

Whether you need an expertly planned itinerary, some experienced hints and tips, or just craving a delicious food adventure, we’ve got you covered!

Hi, we’re Rach & Marty!

We’ve visited every country in the world and want to help you get the most out of your travels!

Whether you need an expertly planned itinerary, some experienced hints and tips, or just craving a delicious food adventure, we’ve got you covered!

Hi, we’re Rach & Marty!

We’ve visited every country in the world and want to help you get the most out of your travels!

Whether you need an expertly planned itinerary, some experienced hints and tips, or just craving a delicious food adventure, we’ve got you covered!

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West Africa Food best 8 dishes

We always try to indulge in the local food in every country we visit.

Here are some of the best West African dishes you need to try, which go way beyond rice and sauce.

8 Most Popular West African Dishes

1. Thieboudienne

This traditional Senegalese dish is made from rice, fish and tomato sauce. Other ingredients often include onions, cabbage, carrots, cassava and peanut oil.

It’s a one-pot dish into which you can throw any vegetables you have to hand. Filling and tasty, this dish is commonly featured on every daily menu because it’s always a good option.

We tried a few versions of these West African dishes during our visit to the old colonial city of Saint-Louis. 

There’s a great little local restaurant here called La Linguere. You’ll find some great food here at very affordable prices. You can usually choose the protein, such as chicken or fish.

Thieboudiene is one of the popular West African dishes every visitor must try.

FOODIE TIP: The best deals (and food) in local eateries and restaurants are always found during lunchtime or between 12-2 pm.

Thieboudienne Senegal Africa food map
Thieboudienne in Senegal – A popular dish on our Africa food map

2. Red Red

A thick stew made of mashed black-eyed peas (although any other beans will do) It’s cooked in red palm oil and pepper.

Most recipes will include a little tomato paste, chilli, fresh garlic, ginger and spices to add flavour. It could look more appealing, but it tastes great.

This is one of the popular West African dishes from Ghana and it is often served with fried plantain. It’s tasty – particularly the bits that cook a little too long on the bottom of the pot.

We tried this dish in the vibrant little city of Kumasi in Ghana. There’s a fantastic restaurant/bar here that was super popular with both locals and visitors alike. 

Ike’s Bar & Grill is huge and the service was good, it has a nice atmosphere and they have evening entertainment. Catch an Uber there and enjoy a night out.

We really enjoyed visiting Ghana and we found the people to be super friendly. See our post about visiting Ghana – and why you’re GHANA love it too!

Red Red plantain Ghana African food map
Red Red plantain – West African dishes

3. Chicken or Fish Yassa

Yassa is a crowd favourite. Chicken or fish pieces are marinated in dijon mustard and lemon juice, then braised with caramelized onions and slow-cooked until the meat is perfect. Served with rice or couscous, this is a very comforting meal and a must-taste when it comes to West African dishes.

We enjoyed this meal a few times during our stay in Senegal, however, the best chicken yassa we ate was cooked by our wonderful host in Dakar, Senegal.

Chicken Yassa west african dish
Chicken Yassa – Fantastic West African food to try

4. Suya

Skewers of spiced cuts of meat such as beef, mutton or chicken are grilled over a charcoal fire or BBQ.

Often served with chunks of raw onions, spicy sauce for dipping and extra seasoning, this dish is best enjoyed in a local eatery alongside a cold beer.

best west african dishes
Suya – Food of Western Africa

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5. Jollof Rice

Every West African country has its own version of this dish and it is the essential dish of all West African dishes. We’ve tried it in many West African countries and we think Sierra Leone, The Gambia and Nigeria were the tastiest.

Essentially jollof rice is a one-pot rice dish made with tomatoes, tomato paste, spices (such as nutmeg, cumin and ginger) and vegetables.

Meat or fried plantain can be added to this dish if you wish.

best west african dishes
Jollof rice – Popular West Africa food – and much loved in many countries

6. Fufu

Fufu is very much a staple food, common in many West African countries. It is prepared by mixing and pounding separate equal portions of cassava and green plantain flour thoroughly with water.

Other flours can take the place of cassava flour, such as semolina, maize flour or mashed plantains.

Once the dough is prepared, fufu is then rolled into balls and dipped into sauces or eaten with stews of meat, fish, or vegetables.

To us, fufu to West Africans is like bread to Europeans or rice to Asians – it’s a true staple and absolutely a must-eat when exploring West African dishes.

Africa food fufu Africa food map
Fufu – West African food

7. Groundnut Stew (Maafe)

This iconic West African dish can be found in many countries in the region. Commonly made with chicken, scotch bonnet peppers and either groundnut or peanut butter, it’s a stew that is satisfying because of the combination of sweet, savoury and spicy flavours.

In the coastal regions of Senegal, fish is eaten with Maafe and traditionally served with white rice, couscous or fufu.

Our favourite peanut stew experience was in Cotonou, Benin at a local restaurant called Saveurs du Benin. This place had so many delicious local dishes on the menu, that it was hard to choose.

In the end, I chose this dish called Igname Pille with peanut stew (as pictured below).

It was a dish to remember and cost around USD 6.

Igname Pille maafe Benin Africa food map
Igname Pille Maafe – West African dishes like this taste much better than they look.

8. Ewa Agoyin 

A popular street food dish in Nigeria, made of smashed white or brown beans served with pepper and palm oil sauce.

The beans are cooked until very soft, almost mashed and eaten with ground pepper and tomato sauce which is very spicy.

This can be found at small food places set up on the side of the streets at any time of the day – with other West African dishes.

It’s very cheap and tastes even better with a cold beer or local juice.

Ewa Agoyin west africa food
Ewa Agoyin – West African food

Have you tried any of these West African dishes? Please share your favourite West African food with us below. Next, learn more about the 20 popular breakfast foods in Africa.

Check out these delicious West African recipes from Food52.com

Travel Tips for Africa

We have many travel guides and tips for Africa – what a massive continent!

Have you ever wondered how many countries in Africa there are? 54 or 55? We cover them in depth in our ultimate Africa bucket list.

There is some delicious cuisine to be enjoyed across Africa, and these ten best African countries for food will inspire your food journey.

Check out how many of these 15 most popular foods you can taste.

If you’re wondering what they eat for breakfast in Africa, check out these 20 popular breakfast foods.

For food lovers, our Food Map of AFRICA lists the quintessential dish you need to eat in every nation!

It’s worth reading these 17 ESSENTIAL Things to know before travelling to West Africa, and our packing list for Africa may be helpful to you.

Don’t miss our recap of our travels across West Africa for even more helpful tips, and try these popular West African dishes; they’re fantastic!

You’ll need to stay connected while travelling in Africa. We recommend eSIM. It’s easy, reliable and affordable. View eSIMs for individual countries in Africa, or consider a regional eSIM for Africa (which covers 36 countries)

If your travels in Africa are part of a much larger global adventure, then a Global eSIM may be the answer. It connects you in 124 countries, offering data-only eSIM and data/call/text Global eSIM. This eSIM has been a game-changer for us, and we couldn’t imagine travelling without it now.

If you want to travel with like-minded travellers, consider joining a group tour. View the best deals on group tours in Africa.

Check out our best-ever travel tips compiled from more than twenty years of experience.

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See all articles about Benin, Ghana, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, The Gambia

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