List of African cuisines

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This is a list of African cuisines. A cuisine is a characteristic style of cooking practices and traditions,[1] often associated with a specific culture. The various cuisines of Africa use a combination of locally available fruits, cereal grains and vegetables, as well as milk and meat products. In some parts of the continent, the traditional diet features a preponderance of milk, curd and whey products. The continent's diverse demographic makeup is reflected in the many different eating and drinking habits, dishes, and preparation techniques of its manifold populations.[2]

Central African cuisine[edit]

Ndolé is the national dish of Cameroon.
  • The cuisine of Central Africa remains largely traditional because of the remote nature of the region,[3] which remained relatively isolated until the 19th century.[3] Some foods, such as cassava (a food staple in Central Africa), groundnuts (peanuts) and chili peppers were imported from the New World.[3] Plantains are also common in Central African cuisine.[3] Meats, such as crocodile, antelope, monkey and warthog, are sometimes hunted in the forests.[3] Bambra is a porridge made from cooked rice, peanut butter and sugar.[3] A jomba is the bundling of foods in fresh green plantain leaves and then cooking them over hot coals or fire.[4]
  • Cameroonian cuisine is one of the most varied in Africa due to its location on the crossroads between the north, west, and center of the continent; added to this is the profound influence of French food, a legacy of the colonial era.
  • Congolese cuisine (Democratic Republic of the Congo) varies widely, representing the food of indigenous people. Cassava is generally the staple food usually eaten with other side dishes.
  • Centrafrican cuisine in the Central African Republic includes Middle Eastern and French influences.

East African cuisine[edit]

  • Burundian cuisine - Burundi is situated in Eastern Africa and has a territory full of mountains, savannas and agricultural fields, with forests in the surrounding of rivers and waters. Agriculture is spread on 80% of the country's surface and it especially includes coffee, tea, corn, beans and manioc.
  • Kenyan cuisine - There is no singular dish that represents all of Kenya. Different communities have their own native foods. Staples are maize and other cereals depending on the region including millet and sorghum eaten with various meats and vegetables. The foods that are universally eaten in Kenya are ugali, sukuma wiki, and nyama choma.
  • Tanzanian cuisine - Along the coastal regions (Dar es Salaam, Tanga, Bagamoyo, Zanzibar and Pemba), spicy foods are common, and there is also much use of coconut milk. Regions in Tanzania's mainland also have their own unique foods.
  • Ugandan cuisine consists of traditional and modern cooking styles, practices, foods and dishes in Uganda, with English, Arab, Asian and especially Indian influences. Like the cuisines of most countries, it varies in complexity, from the most basic, a starchy filler with a sauce of beans or meat, to several-course meals served in upper-class homes and high-end restaurants.
  • Maasai cuisine - The staple diet of the Maasai consists of cow's milk and maize-meal. The cuisine also consists of soups from plants and fruits. More recently, the Maasai have grown dependent on food produced in other areas such as maize meal, rice, potatoes, and cabbage (known to the Maasai as goat leaves).

Horn African cuisine[edit]

Injera bread and several kinds of wat (stew) are typical of Ethiopian and Eritrean cuisine.
  • Eritrean cuisine is a fusion of Eritrea's native culinary traditions, and the area's long history of trade and social interchanges with other regions and cultures.
  • Ethiopian cuisine and Eritrean cuisine characteristically consist of spicy vegetable and meat dishes, usually in the form of wat (or wot), a thick stew, served atop injera, a large sourdough flatbread,[8] which is about 50 centimetres (20 inches) in diameter and made out of fermented teff flour.[8] Ethiopians eat with their right hands, using pieces of injera to pick up bites of entrées and side dishes.[8] Utensils are rarely used with this dish.
  • Somali cuisine varies from region to region and is a Fusion of native Somali culinary traditions with influences from Yemeni, Persian, Indian and Italian cuisines.

North African cuisine[edit]

Nile perch are one of the world's largest freshwater fish and a significant food source.[11] It reaches a maximum length of over six feet, weighing up to 440 lbs,[12] although many fish are caught before growing this large.[13] It is widespread throughout much of the Afrotropic ecozone.
  • North African cuisine includes cuisines from regions along the Mediterranean Sea,[14] inland areas and includes several nations, including Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, and Tunisia. In North African cuisine, the most common staple foods are meat, seafood, goat, lamb, beef, dates, almonds, olives, various vegetables and fruit. Because the region is predominantly Muslim, halal meats are usually eaten. The best-known North African/Berber dish abroad is surely couscous.[15]
  • Sudanese cuisine varies by region and has been influenced by the cross-cultural influences upon Sudan throughout history. In addition to the indigenous African peoples, the cuisine was influenced by Arab traders and settlers during the Ottoman Empire, who introduced spices such as red pepper and garlic.
  • Tunisian cuisine is the cuisine of Tunisia, a blend of Mediterranean and desert dwellers' culinary traditions. Its distinctive spicy fieriness comes from neighboring Mediterranean countries and the many civilizations which have ruled the land now known as Tunisia: Phoenicians, Romans, Arabs, Ottoman Empire, French, and the native Berber people.

Southern African cuisine[edit]

  • South African cuisine is sometimes referred to as "rainbow cuisine"[16] because it is based on multicultural and various indigenous cuisines. Curried dishes are popular with lemon juice in South Africa among people of all ethnic origins; many dishes came to the country with the thousands of Indian laborers brought to South Africa in the nineteenth century. South African cuisine can be defined as cookery practiced by indigenous people of South Africa such as the Khoisan and Xhosa, Zulu- and Sotho-speaking people, and settler cookery that emerged from several waves of immigration introduced during the colonial period by people of Indian and Afrikaner and British descent and their slaves and servants.
  • Botswana cuisine is unique but also shares some characteristics with other cuisine of Southern Africa. Examples of Botswana food include pap, samp, vetkoek and mopane worms. A food unique to Botswana includes seswaa, heavily salted mashed-up meat.
  • Malagasy cuisine is the cuisine of the island country of Madagascar, located in the Indian Ocean off the southeastern coast of Africa. Madagascans are mostly Malayan Polynesian, along with Africans, Arabs, Indians and Europeans.[17] Rice is a common staple food, and fruits and vegetables are prominent in the cuisine. Pineapples, mangoes, peaches, grapes, avocados and lychee are grown on the island.[17] Meats include chicken, beef and fish, and curry dishes are common.[17] A common food is laoka, a mixture of cooked foods served atop rice. Laoka are most often served in some kind of sauce: in the highlands, this sauce is generally tomato-based, while in coastal areas coconut milk is often added during cooking.[18]
Closeup of large round speckled beans cooked with cubes of pork over rice
Closeup of stewed green leaves, tomato and tiny shrimp
Bottles of lemon and mango sauces (achards) are common in the northwestern coastal regions of Madagascar.
Malagasy cuisine: Two common Madagascan laokas: bambara groundnut and pork (left) and potato leaves with dried shrimp (center), usually served atop rice. On the right are bottles of lemon and mango sauces (achards), which are common in the northwestern coastal regions of Madagascar.[19]
  • South African cuisine is sometimes called "rainbow cuisine", as it has had a variety of multicultural sources and stages. Influences include indigenous practices and settler cookery that immigrants practiced.

West African cuisine[edit]

Yassa is a popular dish throughout West Africa prepared with chicken or fish. Chicken yassa is pictured.
  • West African cuisine refers to many distinct regional and ethnic cuisines in West African nations, a large geographic area with climates ranging from desert to tropical.[20] Some of the region's indigenous plants, such as hausa groundnuts, pigeon peas and cowpeas provide dietary protein for both people and livestock.[21] Many significant spices, stimulants and medicinal herbs originated in the evergreen and deciduous forests of Western Africa.[21] Ancient Africans domesticated the kola nut and coffee, now used globally in beverages.[21]

By country[edit]

Spices at central market in Agadir, Morocco
A map of Africa
  • North African cuisine
  • Horn of Africa cuisine
  • East African cuisine
  • Central African cuisine
  • Southern African cuisine
  • West African cuisine

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Cuisine." Accessed June 2011.
  2. ^ Bea Sandler (1993). The African Cookbook. Diane and Leo Dillon (Illust.). Carol Publishing Group. ISBN 0-8065-1398-5. Archived from the original on 2008-12-16. Retrieved 2008-12-18. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f "Food in Africa." Accessed July 2011.
  4. ^ Robert, Nassau Hamill (1904). "Fetichism in West Africa: Forty Years' Observation of Native Customs and Superstitions." Accessed July 2011.
  5. ^ United Nations Statistics Division – Standard Country and Area Codes Classifications
  6. ^ Sandra Fullerton Joireman, Institutional Change in the Horn of Africa, (Universal-Publishers: 1997), p.1: "The Horn of Africa encompasses the countries of Ethiopia, Eritrea, Djibouti and Somalia. These countries share similar peoples, languages, and geographical endowments."
  7. ^ a b "Eritrean Food Practices." Accessed July 2011.
  8. ^ a b c d Javins, Marie. "Eating and Drinking in Ethiopia." Archived 2013-01-31 at the Wayback Machine. Accessed July 2011.
  9. ^ "Somali Halwa." Accessed July 2011.
  10. ^ Barlin Ali, Somali Cuisine, (AuthorHouse: 2007), p.79
  11. ^ "Nile Perch." Accessed July 2011.
  12. ^ Kaufman, Les. "Catastrophic Change in Species-Rich Freshwater Ecosystems: The lessons of Lake Victoria". BioScience. 42 (11). doi:10.2307/1312084. 
  13. ^ Wood (1983). The Guinness Book of Animal Facts and Feats. Sterling Pub Co Inc. ISBN 978-0-85112-235-9. 
  14. ^ "Northern Africa." Accessed June 2011.
  15. ^ Mourad, Mazouz. "The Momo Cookbook." Archived 2011-09-19 at the Wayback Machine. The Globalist. Accessed June 2011.
  16. ^ "Rainbow Cuisine in South Africa." Road Travel – Travel Group. Accessed July 2011.
  17. ^ a b c "Madagascar." Archived 2011-04-25 at WebCite African Studies Center, University of Pennsylvania. Accessed July 2011.
  18. ^ Bradt, Hilary (2011). Madagascar (10th ed.). Guilford, Connecticut: The Globe Pequot Press Inc. pp. 12–14. ISBN 978-1-84162-341-2. 
  19. ^ Espagne-Ravo, Angéline (1997). Ma Cuisine Malgache: Karibo Sakafo (in French). Paris: Edisud. ISBN 2-85744-946-1. 
  20. ^ "Africa Climate." Backpack Traveller. Accessed July 2011.
  21. ^ a b c "Food and the African Past." p. 14.
  22. ^ "Oxfam's Cool Planet - Food in Burkina Faso". Oxfam. Archived from the original on 2012-05-17. Retrieved 2008-05-21. 
  23. ^ Marchais, p. 99
  24. ^ H.O. Anthonio & M. Isoun: "Nigerian Cookbook." Macmillan, Lagos, 1982.
  25. ^ Adekunle, p.81
  26. ^ Adebayo Oyebade, Culture and Customs of Angola (2007). Greenwood, p. 109.
  27. ^ a b "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 16 August 2011. Retrieved 2011-06-17. 
  28. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 16 August 2011. Retrieved 2017-11-29. .
  29. ^ "Gabon." Archived 2011-10-15 at the Wayback Machine. Accessed June 2011.
  30. ^ "Food habits of rural Swazi households" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2011-06-06. 
  31. ^ "Swaziland Food and Drink". Archived from the original on 2008-09-19. 
  32. ^ "Sharing the Secrets of Togo's Cuisine." Accessed July 2011.

Further reading[edit]