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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

Ndolé is the national dish of Cameroon.

Central Africa stretches from the Tibesti Mountains in the north to the vast rainforest basin of the Congo River, the highlands of Kivu and the savana of Katanga.

This region has received culinary influence of the Swahilis (culture that evolved via the combination of Bantu, Yemeni, Omani and Indian cultures) during the East African Slave Trade. Swahili culinary influences can be found in dishes such as mandanzi, pilaf rice, kachumbari, sambsusa, and kuku paka.[3]

Central African cuisine has also been influenced by the Portuguese, by way of the Kongo and Ndongo Kingdoms. Salt fish was introduced following trade in the late 17th century, and the Kikongo term for salt fish, makayabu, comes from the term bacalhau (ba-cal-ha-u).[4]

The Portuguese culinary influence is especially prominent in Angola, Sao Tomé and Equatorial Guinea. Central Africa has also been influenced by the cuisine of the regions East, West and Southern Africa because of their close proximity, e.g. babuté/bobotie is shared with the south, nyama choma with the east and gombos with West Africa.

The main ingredients are plantains, cassava, rice, kwanga (cassava dumpling) and yam. Fufu-like starchy foods are usually made from fermented cassava roots, but they can also be made with plantain, corn maize and yam. Fufu is served buffet style with grilled meat, fish, stews, greens and piment. A variety of local ingredients are used while preparing other dishes like spinach stew cooked with tomato, peppers, chillis, onions, and peanut butter.[5] Eastern central Africa is also one of the few regions in Africa that uses potatoes as one of its main bases, since potatoes grow easily in the region.

Cassava plants are also consumed as cooked greens. Groundnut (peanut) stew is also prepared, containing chicken, okra, ginger, and other spices. Beef and chicken are favorite meat dishes, but game meat preparations containing crocodile, elephant, antelope and warthog are also served occasionally.[6][7][8][9][10] Another favorite is bambara, a porridge of rice, peanut butter and sugar. [11] A jomba is the bundling of foods in fresh green plantain leaves and then cooking them over hot coals or fire.[12]

  • 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) is one of the most diverse cuisines of the continent since it sits between east and southern Africa and received culinary influence from the Portuguese and Middle Eastern and Indian influences via the Swahili. Moambé chicken is the national dish.
  • Centrafrican cuisine in the Central African Republic includes Middle Eastern and French influences.

East African cuisine

Injera bread and several kinds of wat (stew) are typical of Ethiopian and Eritrean cuisine.
  • 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.
  • 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,[14] which is about 50 centimetres (20 inches) in diameter and made out of fermented teff flour.[14] Ethiopians eat with their right hands, using pieces of injera to pick up bites of entrées and side dishes.[14] Utensils are rarely used with this dish.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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").

North African cuisine

Nile perch are one of the world's largest freshwater fish and a significant food source.[15] It reaches a maximum length of over six feet, weighing up to 440 lbs,[16] although many fish are caught before growing this large.[17] It is widespread throughout much of the Afrotropical realm.
  • 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

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.[23]
  • 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. Their staple food is pap this is made using cornmeal and boiled water, South Africans also enjoy this dish served with braai meat. This is usually served at social gatherings.
  • Zimbabwean cuisine - Like in many African countries, the majority of Zimbabweans depend on a few staple foods. "mealie meal", also known as cornmeal, is used to prepare sadza or isitshwala and porridge known as bota or ilambazi. Zimbabwean cuisine also includes fruits and vegetables such as imbhida also known as African kale. Corn is also used to make dishes such as umxhanxa, which is made using boiled pumpkin and corn.

West African cuisine

Yassa is a popular dish throughout West Africa prepared with chicken or fish. Chicken yassa is pictured.

By country

Spices at central market in Agadir, Morocco
A map of Africa

See also


  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 16 December 2008. Retrieved 18 December 2008.
  3. ^ Coquery-Vidrovitch, Catherine; Mésnard, Éric (2013). L'esclavage intégré en Afrique (fin du xviiie-xixe siècle). Cahiers Libres.
  4. ^ Thronton, John (1981). "Early Kongo-Portuguese Relations: A New Interpretation". History in Africa. VIII (I): 22.
  5. ^ Newton, A. (1994). Central Africa: a travel survival kit. Lonely Planet travel survival kit. Lonely Planet. p. 77. ISBN 978-0-86442-138-8. Retrieved 30 November 2017.
  6. ^ Huchzermeyer, F.W. (2003). Crocodiles: Biology, Husbandry and Diseases. CABI. p. 130. ISBN 978-0-85199-798-8. Retrieved 30 November 2017.
  7. ^ Elephant meat trade in Central Africa : Republic of Congo case study. Iucn. p. 36. ISBN 978-2-8317-1419-6. Retrieved 30 November 2017.
  8. ^ Stiles, D. (2011). Elephant Meat Trade in Central Africa: Summary Report. IUCN. p. 25. ISBN 978-2-8317-1393-9. Retrieved 30 November 2017.
  9. ^ Whitford, J. (1877). Trading Life in Western and Central Africa. "Porcupine" Office. p. 212. Retrieved 30 November 2017.
  10. ^ Gibbons, A.S.H. (1898). Exploration and Hunting in Central Africa 1895-96. Methuen & Company. p. 223. Retrieved 30 November 2017.
  11. ^ "Food in Africa." Accessed July 2011.
  12. ^ Robert, Nassau Hamill (1904). "Fetichism in West Africa: Forty Years' Observation of Native Customs and Superstitions." Accessed July 2011.
  13. ^ "United Nations Statistics Division – Standard Country and Area Codes Classifications". Archived from the original on 13 July 2011. Retrieved 26 May 2013.
  14. ^ a b c Javins, Marie. "Eating and Drinking in Ethiopia." Archived 31 January 2013 at the Wayback Machine Accessed July 2011.
  15. ^ "Nile Perch." Accessed July 2011.
  16. ^ Kaufman, Les. "Catastrophic Change in Species-Rich Freshwater Ecosystems: The lessons of Lake Victoria". BioScience. 42 (11). doi:10.2307/1312084. JSTOR 1312084.
  17. ^ Wood (1983). The Guinness Book of Animal Facts and Feats. Sterling Pub Co Inc. ISBN 978-0-85112-235-9.
  18. ^ "Northern Africa." Accessed June 2011.
  19. ^ Mourad, Mazouz. "The Momo Cookbook." Archived 19 September 2011 at the Wayback Machine The Globalist. Accessed June 2011.
  20. ^ "Rainbow Cuisine in South Africa." Road Travel – Travel Group. Accessed July 2011.
  21. ^ a b c "Madagascar." Archived 4 May 2011 at the Wayback Machine African Studies Center, University of Pennsylvania. Accessed July 2011.
  22. ^ Bradt, Hilary (2011). Madagascar (10th ed.). Guilford, Connecticut: The Globe Pequot Press Inc. pp. 12–14. ISBN 978-1-84162-341-2.
  23. ^ Espagne-Ravo, Angéline (1997). Ma Cuisine Malgache: Karibo Sakafo (in French). Paris: Edisud. ISBN 2-85744-946-1.
  24. ^ "Africa Climate." Backpack Traveller. Accessed July 2011.
  25. ^ a b c "Food and the African Past." Archived 10 October 2012 at the Wayback Machine p. 14.
  26. ^ "Oxfam's Cool Planet - Food in Burkina Faso". Oxfam. Archived from the original on 17 May 2012. Retrieved 21 May 2008.
  27. ^ Marchais, p. 99
  28. ^ H.O. Anthonio & M. Isoun: "Nigerian Cookbook." Macmillan, Lagos, 1982.
  29. ^ Adekunle, p.81
  30. ^ Adebayo Oyebade, Culture and Customs of Angola (2007). Greenwood, p. 109.
  31. ^ a b "Foodspring® - finest fitness food". Archived from the original on 16 August 2011. Retrieved 17 June 2011.((cite web)): CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  32. ^ "Foodspring® - finest fitness food". Archived from the original on 16 August 2011. Retrieved 29 November 2017.((cite web)): CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link).
  33. ^ "Gabon." Archived 15 October 2011 at the Wayback Machine Accessed June 2011.
  34. ^ "Food habits of rural Swazi households" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 6 June 2011.
  35. ^ "Swaziland Food and Drink". Archived from the original on 19 September 2008.
  36. ^ "Sharing the Secrets of Togo's Cuisine." Accessed July 2011.

Further reading