Africa Food Map – African Food Guide to 54 Countries
Africa is a huge continent made up of 54 different countries in total. Our Africa Food Map covers the most popular African food eaten in each country. African food options vary considerably depending on what region you visit. All 54 countries of Africa have different ethnic groups which also influences the cuisine.
It’s difficult to answer the question, “what’s African food taste like?”. If you ask me “what does European food taste like?”, I couldn’t answer that either. As multiple countries and cultures make up this continent also, the cuisine is each does change considerably.
The reason why it’s hard to tell you directly what’s African food taste like is that each region is quite different. I’ll explain a little more about the regions below.
North Africa foods
What exactly are North Africa foods? If we refer to North Africa Foods that make up this region stretching across Northern Africa, there are some basic staple foods. These are smen (preserved butter), olives and olive oil, couscous, preserved lemons, garlic, floral essences such as rosewater or orange blossom, harissa (chilli paste), onions, oranges, dates, and figs.
As for meat used in North Africa food, lamb and mutton are the main protein, while chicken also features in North Africa foods.
Eastern Africa food
What is Eastern Africa food? Well, traditional East African foods include some form of corn which is used to make just about everything! The preparation of Ugali (popular African food or stew) uses corn as a base.
Cornmeal is used to prepare porridge too – usually the hero of any Eastern Africa food. Matoke, a much-loved dish of steamed green bananas is typical Eastern Africa food. It is stewed with other vegetables and spices to produce a lovely dish.
South African food
What does South African food consist of? If you speak to any South African, a typical braai (BBQ) is the quintessential South African food that is loved all over this region. Yes, South African food relies heavily on meat.
Proteins such as pork, beef, lamb, boerewors (sausage), chicken, ostrich, and seafood are barbecued on a grill – and I have to admit that a traditional braai is incredibly tasty.
Aside from all that meat, a typical meal in a Bantu-speaking, South African household is a rigid, fluffy porridge of maize meal (called pap). Root vegetables are also eaten in the South African food diet, but it’s almost always second to all that meat!
West African food
From Mauritania to Cameroon, the base of West African food is usually tomatoes, onions and chilli. These ingredients are used to create the base of stews, sauces to ladle over grilled chicken and fufu or as a spread to a freshly baked baguette (our go-to African foodwhen we travelled overland through West Africa in 2019)
Peanuts are abundant in this region and they’re used in West African cuisine, in addition to cassava leaf soup and stew.
Africa food fufu – What is this dish and where do they eat it?
Popular Africa food, Fufu (foo-foo) means to mix or mash, and it’s a staple African food in West and Central Africa, and also in the Caribbean. I always wondered what the widespread African food, fufu is made of?
Essentially, fufu is the somewhat sour, sponge-like dough created from boiled and beaten starchy African foods such as cassava, yams and plantains. The pounding is done in a large mortar with a pestle.
Each country in Africa has their version of ‘Africa food fufu’ as they may add an extra ingredient for taste or even pound two root vegetables to produce this much-loved Africa food or Fufu. It’s most popular in Cameroon, Togo, Benin, Nigeria and Sierra Leone to name just a few.
Algeria is the largest African country on our Africa Food Map and chakhchoukha is very popular all over the country. At least from our experience, this was the dish that we were recommended many times.
So, what is chakhchoukha? It’s a dish prepared with torn pieces of thin, flatbread known as rougag. The rougag is topped with marqa, a flavourful tomato-based stew of lamb (or chicken), onions, peppers, chickpeas, and spices.
Chakhchoukha is designed to be shared (as many other Algerian dishes are) and it’s a simple, affordable and filling meal. Here are 10 more popular Algerian dishes, a good idea of what to expect from North African food. If you’re considering a trip to Algeria, these 8 AMAZING places to visit will inspire you.
An iconic African food that can be found on many Africa food menus across the continent, particularly in West African countries.
Typically made with chicken, scotch bonnet peppers and either groundnut or peanut butter, it’s a rich, flavourful stew. The blend of sweet, savoury and spicy flavours is the key to its popularity and it’s a good source of protein. Maafe is usually eaten with fish or chicken and is typically served with fufu, white rice, or couscous.
Our favourite peanut stew experience was in Cotonou, the capital of Benin at a local restaurant called Saveurs du Benin. I highly recommend stopping by to enjoy some delicious African food. The dish I enjoyed here was named Igname Pille with peanut stew.
A plate of delicious African food was about $6, and it’s fantastic!
Dikgobe is a dish prepared with a variety of beans, peas, and samp (processed maize or corn). The maize gives the dish a porridge-like texture. It’s simple African food that is high in protein, and filling and can feed many mouths with one large pot.
Rach buying a fresh baguette with chicken stew in Burkina Faso – Our Africa food map would be incomplete without this easy option for cheap African food.
The food in Burkina Faso is similar to West African food you may find on this Africa food list. Locals here eat millet, sorghum, maize (corn) and peanuts. Something readily available all over the country is a freshly baked baguette (yes, the bread in Burkina Faso is wonderful) filled with a simple, yet super tasty chicken stew.
You can find ladies selling them in markets, on the streets and conveniently at bus stations and roadside stops.
Burundi is a landlocked country and it’s bordered by Lake Tanganyika and the Democratic Republic of Congo to the west, Tanzania to the east and Rwanda to the north.
Mukeke is a fresh fish from Lake Tanganyika and it’s a popular dish to eat in Burundi. It’s usually cooked whole and served with rice or salad and chips. We had a great time in Burundi, however, it was certainly a journey getting here.
Yassa is a favourite in Cameroon and other countries in West Africa and it’s known to have originated in Senegal. Chicken or fish pieces are marinated in dijon mustard and lemon juice, then braised with caramelized onions and slow-cooked until the meat is perfectly tender.
Served with rice or couscous, Yassa is a very comforting meal to eat in Cameroon.
8. Cape Verde – Fried chicken with rice, beans and salad
Cape Verde is a set of small islands located off the coast of Africa. The archipelago consists of 10 islands and many islets. There is some fantastic Creole food to be eaten on these islands with the most popular dish being fried chicken with rice, beans and salad. The protein can be changed with fresh fish too.
This is a popular meatball dish in the Central African Republic. The two main ingredients are beef and ground pumpkin seeds. Other key ingredients used are onions, tomatoes, garlic, parsley, and chilli.
The meatballs are usually served atop rice, fufu or even pasta.
African food in Chad is usually camel meat or whole fried fish from the lake. The fish eaten here is usually Carp or Capitaine fish. Usually served on a platter with a salad of coleslaw mixed with mayonnaise, fresh baguette, fried plantain and spicy dipping sauce.
Without question, this has to be the most popular dish in Djibouti. Typically prepared during the Islamic holiday of Eid, (the celebration after the month of Ramadan) it is made of lamb, rice and a range of spices such as cardamom, cumin and turmeric that offer health benefits.
Other proteins such as beef, chicken, and fish are common too.
Fava beans, parsley, onion, tomato, lemon juice, olive oil and tahini – are the ingredients to produce this delicious dish. Eaten with a basket of fresh Egyptian bread to scoop it all up – a satisfying meal for sure. Ful (pronounced ‘fool’) is popular breakfast food in Egypt.
Eaten all over the country, this simple, yet this tasty dish is a national favourite. Succotash is made of a mixture of corn, lima beans, and tomatoes that are sauteed together with butter, salt and fresh herbs.
This popular Eritrean stew is served atop injera, a flatbread made from teff flour, sorghum, or wheat (popular in Ethiopia too) and hilbet (a paste made from pulses, specifically fava and lentil beans). Eritrean dishes are usually lighter in texture than Ethiopian meals as they tend to use more tomatoes and fewer spices and butter.
Our friend in Ethiopia invited us into his home in Addis Ababa. We spent the day learning how to cook Doro Wat and other Ethiopian dishes with his family.
I love Ethiopian cuisine, in fact, it might be my favourite cuisine on this Africa food map. African food doesn’t get better than this! Doro Wat is a spicy chicken stew prepared with Ethiopia’s definitive berbere spice mix. It is served on top of spongy Injera bread, which also acts as a scoop to enjoy the meal.
A traditional African food recipe of Gabon. The sauce is made from the red fruit covering the seeds of African oil palms in addition to tomatoes, garlic, onions, okra, hot peppers, salt, and cayenne pepper.
Bite-sized pieces of chicken are covered with this sauce, then simmered over low heat until everything is tender. Usually eaten with rice or fufu.
Jollof rice is typical African food, eaten in multiple countries
Each West African country has its version of Jollof rice and it’s one of the most well known African foods. In fact, our Africa food map wouldn’t be complete without it. 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.
A thick stew made of mashed black-eyed peas. It’s cooked in red palm oil and pepper and many recipes include a little tomato paste, chilli, fresh garlic, ginger and spices to add extra flavour.
Often served with fried plantain, this African food pick for Ghana is tasty, especially if you get those crispy bits that cook a little too long on the bottom of the pot. Visiting Ghana was a highlight of our African food journey across the continent.
Africa food fufu – Eaten in many countries on our Africa Food Map
Fufu is very much a staple food, common in many West African countries. Aside from Guinea, fufu is a staple food in Cameroon, Liberia, Ghana and Benin. Fufu is prepared by mixing and pounding separate equal portions of cassava, (a root vegetable or Africa food staple) and green plantain flour thoroughly with water.
Other flours can take the place of cassava flour, such as maize flour, semolina or even mashed plantains.
Once the dough is prepared, fufu is then rolled into balls and dipped into sauces or eaten with stews of fish, meat, or vegetables.
Often considered to be the national dish of Guinea-Bissau, Caldo stews are a good example of tasty African food. The favourite dish would likely be Caldo Mancarra, a chicken and peanut stew that is usually served over rice.
This traditional chicken stew is prepared with pieces of chicken, tomatoes, okra, eggplants, onions, chilli, ginger, thyme, garlic, and chicken stock (broth). The above ingredients are placed into a clay pot called canari, which is sealed and then placed over burning coals.
The pot is shaken a few times during the cooking process to deter the pieces from burning on the bottom. The stew is slow-cooked until the meat is tender. Kedjenou is commonly served with rice or attiéké, (a dish made from cassava).
Delicious African food that brings us to the halfway point of our Africa Food Map. Liberian potato greens are fried and curried sweet potato leaves cooked with chicken or other meat and enjoyed with steamed rice.
It’s not uncommon to use cassava leaves as a replacement for sweet potato leaves to prepare this dish.
The Libyan tagine typically uses lamb, or chicken and sometimes only vegetables and chickpeas. Ingredients such as spring onions, tomatoes, carrots, butter, ginger, and fenugreek paste are cooked down to produce a lovely sauce.
Malagasy Romazava is the national dish of Madagascar. A meat stew (usually beef) filled with a combination of green leafy vegetables. The meat is commonly braised for many hours before it’s succulent and tender.
Added to a sauce of tomato, ginger, garlic and stewed mixed greens, this is African food that you don’t want to miss. Our detailed 14 Day Ultimate Itinerary for Madagascar will fill you in on all the best places to visit (including where to find the best food).
Fresh fish from Lake Malawi is one of the most popular foods in this country. Chambo fish is the most favoured and it can be roasted, cooked or fried or even dried in the sun. It is usually served with a side of soup and it’s best eaten with beans and other vegetables.
Credit: Simplyrecipes.com – A fantastic recipe for African Peanut Stew to cook at home
Essentially this dish of just rice with peanut sauce is known as the national dish of Mali. Fish, meat or vegetables can also be added to this dish. Tigua Degué is very popular in Senegal, however here it is known as Mafé.
Essentially Mechoui is slow-roasted lamb, a much-loved delicacy of Mauritania. This dish could also be included on our Africa food map in other North African countries such as Algeria, Morocco, and Tunisia. During festive occasions and events, the entire lamb is roasted until it is tender and delicious.
Nothing goes to waste here, and the organs of the lamb are cooked as well. Particularly the kidneys, eyes, head, and liver, are usually served for special guests. It would be rude to refuse, so be sure to gladly accept and enjoy!
Roti Chaud is a flat Indian bread served with various curries and pickles. These are sold on the street and in all restaurants and are quite similar to Indian roti or chapati. Here are 9 Delicious Foods to Try in Mauritius.
A delicious pie made from thin layers of pastry, meat (fish, chicken, or pigeon), almonds and eggs, and spiced with saffron. This is an easy snack food in Morocco and is available everywhere. Best eaten hot, and straight from the oven.
Niger has the best beef brochettes I’ve tasted in the entire world. So tender. Brochettes are skewers with chunks of meat that are grilled, roasted or barbequed and this is exactly how they are cooked in Niger.
Usually, the brochettes are marinated, threaded on skewers, and then grilled over an open fire. Best eaten with fresh salad, don’t miss them!
One of the most widespread dishes in the Republic of Congo is Pondu. This vegetable dish is made using washed and prepared cassava leaves that are boiled in a pot with salt. An easy and affordable meal to prepare and it’s essential on this Africa Food Map as many other African countries eat Pondu.
This dish is usually eaten alongside meat or fish with either bread, rice, boiled yam or fried plantain. The food across the river in the Democratic Republic of Congo is similar to food here in the Congo.
Bananas are a staple food of the Rwandan diet and there are a few different types of bananas that can be prepared in a variety of ways. The most popular cooking methods are to bake, mash, fry and roast bananas.
One popular type of banana is the matoke. It’s green and unripe, and it has the consistency of a potato when cooked, so it’s a frequent addition to soups, stews, wraps, and more.
This robust stew is enjoyed in Sao Tome and Príncipe and also in Angola. It can be prepared with fresh or dried fish and shrimp, or other meats too.
Vegetables added to this tasty stew include tomatoes, okra, onions, eggplants, and the shredded leaves of either sweet potato or cassava. Calulu is traditionally served with rice or funje, a creamy porridge made from cassava.
Thieboudienne in Senegal – A popular dish on our Africa food map
This traditional dish is made from rice, fish and tomato sauce. Other ingredients include cabbage, onions, carrots, cassava and peanut oil. It’s a one-pot dish into which you can throw any vegetables you have on hand.
Filling, affordable and tasty, this dish is typically featured on every daily menu because it’s always a good choice.
A flavourful fish soup with herbs, chopped green or ripe tomatoes, garlic, and ginger. There’s a secret fruit ingredient called bilimbi that gives the soup a distinct tangy flavour.
Sometimes this soup is prepared with small cubes of potatoes to change the texture and thicken the broth. We loved this dish, a favourite during our trip travelling Seychelles on a budget! It’s totally possible.
The leaves of the cassava plant are used to create many stews in Sierra Leone
Plasasare stews made with various green leaves in Sierra Leone, and they’re essential to the cuisine here. The leaves are boiled and cooked with oil (usually red palm oil, but sometimes groundnut or coconut oil), fresh chilli, onions, fish and/or meat.
Plasas are almost always served over rice, and the most popular would be cassava leaf plasa. The capital city of Freetown is the best place to taste a range of Plasas. Affordable and decent accommodation can sometimes be hard to find here, don’t miss our recommendations for where to stay in Freetown Sierra Leone.
I’d describe this dish as quite similar to pilau, a dish we’ve eaten in Pakistan, Iran, and Afghanistan. Bariis Ishkukaris a rice dish that is seasoned with fragrant spices and cooked in a meat broth.
Tomatoes are usually added to the dish to add texture and flavour. The result is delicious and enjoyed on a large platter designed to be shared by a group of people, and typically eaten with the right hand only.
A popular fish stew in South Sudan, Kaijaik is made of dried fish. It is commonly added to porridge. The regions in the South of the country have multiple lakes and rivers, so it makes sense that fish would be the most consumed African food in this region.
A comforting stew prepared with beef or liver. The name of this dish, Kamounia comes from the word cumin, so it’s no surprise that this is the key spice used to flavour it. The stew is quite easy to prepare and other spices used to flavour the dish are garlic, parsley, oil, and cumin.