32 Traditional African Food Recipes

From curries and soup to bread and pudding, there is a lot to explore in the world’s second-largest continent.

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With 54 countries that all have their own unique culture and food, you’re bound to find something you will love on this list of African food.

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Traditional African dishes typically has fish, meat, starchy foods, and a wide variety of herbs and spices.

Many of the most popular African meals are centered around beef, curry dishes, and broths.

Because the cooking styles and recipe ingredients can vary vastly by region, we have broken down our list of African food into four regions: North African recipes, South African recipes, West African recipes, and East African recipes.

North Africa Recipes

Listed below are the top five North African food dishes.

Source: toriavey.com

1. Matbucha

In some parts of the Mediterranean and Africa, it’s customary to begin a meal with cold salads like Matbucha.

This classic Moroccan salad is made from bell pepper, jalapeno, tomato, chili pepper flakes, smoked paprika, and garlic.

Source: onceuponachef.com

2. Tagine

Tagine is a classic Moroccan chicken dish. The secret to this dish is a fragrant pepper paste called Harrisa.

You can serve this chicken recipe with pita bread, rice, or couscous.

Source: themediterraneandish.com

3. Moroccan Harira

This classic Moroccan recipe is gluten free and vegetarian.

Harira is made with chickpeas, chicken broth, and lentils and it’s full of warm spices like cinnamon, cilantro, ginger, cumin, and turmeric.

Source: themediterraneandish.com

4. Egyptian Ful Medames

Sometimes you will see this Egyptian dish called foul mudammas. This hearty stew is made with creamy fava beans and herbs like ground cumin.

This hearty recipe gets tons of flavor from hot peppers and garlic.

Source: downshiftology.com

5. Shakshouka

If you’re looking for a unique and easy breakfast recipe, try shakshuka.

This dish is made from simmering onions, tomatoes, gently poached eggs, spices (cumin, chili powder, and smoked paprika), and garlic.

East Africa Recipes

If you’re looking for food specific to East Africa, you will love these seven African food and recipe ideas.

Source: eatwellabi.com

6. Uganda Matoke

If you like curry, you will love this popular dish from Uganda. You need green matoke, which is also called the East African Highland banana.

Vegetable stock is used to make this vegetarian dish, and it’s loaded with beans and tomatoes.

Source: linsfood.com

7. Ethiopian Flatbread (Authentic Injera)

Traditionally, this classic flatbread from Ethiopian cuisine is made from teff flour. Teff is the tiniest grain in the world.

You can use your Injera as a plate or a utensil and it’s usually served with stews.

Source: aspicyperspective.com

8. Kitfo

Also known as Ethiopian steak tartare, Kitfo is a high-quality beef steak that is seasoned with loads of delicious spices.

Cayenne pepper, anchovy paste, ground cardamom, and garlic powder give beef this dish its flavor.

Source: africanbites.com

9. Kenyan Cornmeal Porridge (Ugali)

All you need to make Ugali is water and cornmeal, and this simple porridge goes wonderfully with soup, stew, and curries.

By itself, this dish is very bland, but it’s perfect for soaking up all of the juice and flavors of soup.

Source: whats4eats.com

10. Kenyan Grilled Meat (Nyama Choma)

Every special gathering in Kenya will have a pot of Nyama Choma somewhere, it seems.

This classic dish is goat meat that is smothered in spices and grilled until it’s perfect.

Source: justonegursha.com

11. Lentil Sambusas

Every culture seems to have a hand pie of some sort, and in Ethiopia, these little lentil sambusas are incredibly popular.

You can also make them with beef or chicken.

Source: veganricha.com

12. Kik Alicha (Ethiopian Split Pea Stew)

With just six ingredients, Kik Alicha is a simple stew that looks similar to the familiar split pea soup made in the U.S.

However, in terms of taste, it’s very different. Cumin, ginger, and turmeric flavor this classic stew.

West Africa Recipes

Looking for West African food ideas? The nine West African cuisine recipes below will light up your table.

Source: thecanadianafrican.com

13. Ghanaian Rice and Beans (Waakye)

If you love rice and beans, you will adore Waakye. But this isn’t a dinner dish necessarily.

Traditionally, Waakye is served for breakfast. This dish is made with black-eyed peas and white rice.

Source: cheflolaskitchen.com

14. Fufu

A staple dish in both Central Africa and West Africa, fufu is also very popular in the Caribbean.

Fufu is dense and starchy. You can serve fufu with stew, soup, or sauce.

Source: preciouscore.com

15. African Chicken Stew

This recipe for African chicken stew has a tomato sauce base that is flavorful and aromatic.

You can serve this dish with warm fried plantains for a truly authentic experience.

Source: saveur.com

16. Senegal Fish and Rice (Thieboudienne)

Thieboudienne (fish and rice) is Senegal’s national dish, and it has layers of smoked fish and vegetables.

The secret to Thieboudienne is the spice called Netetou. You can make this recipe with any veggies or fish.

Source: elleyajoku.com

17. Nigerian Jollof Rice

If you want delicious one-pot African food, Jollof rice is perfect.

Jollof rice is made with rice, pimento peppers, tomatoes, scotch bonnet peppers, tomato paste, onions, and tons of delicious spices. Serve with your favorite African food sauce.

Source: lowcarbafrica.com

18. Nigerian Spinach Stew (Efo Riro)

This one-pot dish is bursting with authentic African flavors and tons of nutritious spinach.

Ingredients include chicken stock, lemon juice, cayenne pepper, tomatoes, and goat meat if you have it.

Source: allnigerianrecipes.com

19. Nigerian Garri

Garri is made from pan-fried cassava flakes, and it’s a must-try if you want to experience Nigerian food.

You can add Garri to a mixture of sugar, cold water, milk, and peanuts and drink it.

Source: cookstr.com

20. Cape Verde Cachupa

If you ever travel to Cape Verde, you will surely enjoy a steaming bowl of Cachupa.

This rich stew is made with hominy, veggies, and seasoned meat. Chicken stock and pork belly add tons of flavor.

Source: cheflolaskitchen.com

21. Nigerian Egusi Soup

Egusi soup is another one-pot food that is popular in many West African homes.

You can serve Egusi over rice, or you can eat it with plantain, pounded yams, collard greens, Fufu, Semovita, Eba, or Alama.

South Africa Recipes

No list of African food would be complete without a list of recipes from South Africa. Below, we have listed the 11 most popular South African food recipes.

Source: africanbites.com

22. Melktert (South African Milk Tart)

You know you’re going to want dessert after feasting on this yummy African food, so get ready for melktert.

Every bite is so creamy, and it’s perfect with a cup of hot tea.

Source: globaltableadventure.com

23. Pap

Cornmeal pap is a traditional dish from Botswana and it’s made from beef broth and cornmeal.

To turn pap into a full meal, just add some of your favorite veggies.

Source: biltongmakers.com

24. Droewors (Biltong)

A traditional South African snack, this recipe is made with beef mince that is stuffed into lamb casings.

The spices are key in this recipe, and you will need black pepper, cloves, nutmeg, salt, and coriander seeds.

Source: biggerbolderbaking.com

25. Malva Pudding

It seems like every cuisine has its own version of bread pudding, and this cake from South Africa is perfect.

The texture is spongy and it’s soaked in a butter sauce. Serve this cake with ice cream.

Source: ethnicfoodsrus.com

26. Braai Inspired T-Bone Steak

In South Africa, the Braai is similar to the classic American BBQ, but it’s a celebration of traditional African culture and cuisine.

The Braai refers to the spice blend that is used on tender steaks.

Source: venturists.net

27. Cape Malay Curry

This lamb curry recipe brings South African historical influences into the pot.

Veggies are potatoes, carrots, and onions. The spices used are cumin, garam masala, ground coriander, turmeric, cinnamon, and curry powder.

Beef stock and creme fraiche make this dish saucy.

Source: africanbites.com

28. South African Corn Bread (Mealie Bread)

Cornbread is delicious all over the world, and this Mealie bread has fresh corn and spices.

With sugar, smoked paprika, and fresh basil, this cornbread is loaded with flavor.

Source: curiouscuisiniere.com

29. Bunny Chow

Don’t worry. You’re not eating a cute little bunny. Bunny Chow is a traditional South African treat that is almost like a sandwich.

Chickpeas, potatoes, meat, and spices are cooked and served in a loaf of bread.

Source: thehomesteadinghippy.com

30. Boerewors

These tasty sausages are made from fatty pork meat and beef.

The dark malt vinegar and spices like coriander seeds, nutmeg, ground cloves, and allspice make this African recipe unique.

Source: tasteoftheplace.com

31. Bobotie

If you’re craving a dish with South African flavors, Bobotie may be what you’re dreaming of.

This recipe is made with curried meat, then topped with a milk and egg mixture and baked. Spices are bay leaf, garlic, turmeric, and cumin.

Source: africanbites.com

32. Chakalaka

Chakalaka is a traditional vegetable relish that originated in South African cuisine.

This dish is full of veggies like baked beans, cabbage, tomato, and carrots.

Do you want to learn about a totally unique African cuisine? Check out this video about food from Somalia, Africa’s mystery cuisine.

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Cassie brings decades of experience to the Kitchen Community.
She is a noted chef and avid gardener. Her new book "Healthy Eating Through the Garden" will be released shortly. When not writing or speaking about food and gardens Cassie can be found puttering around farmer's markets and greenhouses looking for the next great idea.
Cassie Marshall
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