As we’re sure you’ll completely agree, Africa is a beautiful country that is known for its stunning landscapes, gorgeous weather, rich culture and vast history.
Africa is also home to plenty of wildlife, so much so, that Africa is known for its huge animal conservation efforts, too.
Along with all of that, Africa is also home to one of the most rich, vibrant and delicious cuisines in the world – so if you’re a lover of diverse cuisine that’s sure to be a culinary delight regardless of which dish you are going to be trying, we’re sure that African cuisine is sure to be a match made in heaven for you.
It’s a foodies paradise!
So, whether you’ve already tried a few dishes from African cuisine or you’re yet to try it – rest assured that you’re sure to find something here for you.
Below, we are going to be providing you with a list of the most popular African dishes that you should consider trying or even making, if you’re feeling adventurous.
Just keep scrolling through to discover the most popular African dishes!
The Most Popular African Dishes You Should Try!
As we’ve already briefly touched upon in the introduction above, African cuisine is known for being super diverse.
Even though the majority of African dishes tend to take on much influence from all over the world, the majority of African cuisine dishes often tend to incorporate ingredients such as meat, grains, root vegetables and a variety of different flavorful, vibrant and fragrant spices!
In order to ensure that you get the most out of your journey into taste testing some of the most popular African dishes – we are going to be bringing you a list that pulls influences from all over Africa.
All the way from Cape Town all the way to the West African coasts, in this post you will find a list of the finest and most popular African dishes you can find. Just keep reading for the list:
First up on our list we have selected the ever popular Tajine! A true staple in African cuisine, Tajine is typically prepared with spices, seasoning, vegetables and your choice of slow-cooked meats.
In some rare instances, fruit can also be included in the mixture, too!
What we love about Tajine is how flavorful it is. Offering a completely unique flavor profile unlike anything else that you’re sure to try, Tajine is delicious and worth trying because it is able to blend sweet and sour flavors together perfectly.
If you’ve already tried Tajine, then you might be familiar with the Tunisian version of Tajine which often creates frittatas that are paired with small pieces of slow cooked meat and enhanced by delicious fresh herbs.
In African cuisine, Tajine follows a slightly different recipe which is just as delicious but a little more fragrant due to the mixture of spices used to elevate the overall flavor of the dish.
Tajine can also be made suitable for vegetarians – if you’re planning to make it yourself, just make sure to leave out the meat.
Bobotie hails from South Africa and is traditionally made with a mixture of both meat and eggs.
The best part about Bobotie is how versatile it is – it can be eaten at any time of the day and can be elevated with a variety of different side dishes that include anything from rice all the way to mango chutney. It’s entirely your choice!
When made correctly, Bobotie is typically made by mincing meat (beef or lamb is traditionally used, although other types of meat can also be used) and then baking an egg coating to place over the top of the minced meat of your choice.
After you have done this, it is then common for a variety of additional ingredients to be added to enhance the overall flavor profile of the bobotie, including fillings such as chopped onions, sultanas, walnuts, raisins and just about anything else that you might like to add.
After the bobotie has been prepared and is ready to be eaten, it is then typically finished by adding a few bay leaves on the top as garnish, as well as to offer an additional element to the overall flavor profile of all the ingredients included.
Even though bobotie surely isn’t one of the most well known dishes in the world, it’s considered to be one of the national dishes of South Africa, so it’s certainly worth giving a try.
Do you have a special occasion or event coming up that you need to cater for? If you answered yes to that question, then you might be interested in offering your guests some braai.
To cut a long story short, braais are essentially a way of cooking meat in South Africa that is most commonly done during special occasions or holidays.
As you might already have been able to guess from this description, this way of cooking meat is very similar to that of a traditional BBQ – the only difference? Braai is designed to last for a substantial amount of time.
This is mainly down to the method of cooking this meat as we have already mentioned.
Unlike a BBQ, the method of cooking Braai consists of using a fire that is designed to purposefully remain lit for a long period of time, even after the food has been finished.
The main purpose of this is to encourage people to gather around the fire after they have finished eating to share stories and enjoy some quality time together connecting and reconnecting with friends old and new.
Along with this, the possibilities of what you will be able to cook on the braai are truly endless.
If you are thinking of trying this for yourself, you can opt to prepare a variety of different meats (much little the way that you would when cooking on the BBQ) as well as a variety of vegetable side dishes to accompany the meat you are going to be offering.
Really speaking, there aren’t any rules at all when it comes to cooking on the braai. So long as you are preparing the food that you like and ensuring that you’re enjoying quality time with your loved ones – you’ll be doing it just right.
Heading over to Kenya, the next dish that we have to share with you is Ugali! Originating all the way from Kenya, this dish is a porridge-style dish that primarily consists of maize flour.
If you’ve visited Kenya or you often like to frequent African restaurants, then you might have already tried this dish as it can quite often be referred to as Sima instead of Ugali.
The best thing about this delicious dish is just how versatile it is! It can be enjoyed by people from all over the world and can pair well with almost any dish, although many people find that vegetable side dishes pair very well with Ugali (or Sima).
Like we have already mentioned above briefly, Ugali is known to be a “porridge” although the porridge is quite unlike the one that you might have for breakfast.
For one, it consists of a very thick texture porridge that is far stiffer than the porridges we often eat for breakfast.
In order to make this filling rice a little easier to eat due to the texture, it is often paired with meat and some additional rice, as well as vegetables, too.
Even though Ugali isn’t a well known dish in Western cuisine, it is extremely popular in Africa and a staple dish across all regions.
This is partly down to its versatility (Ugali is not only delicious but pairs well with so many other dishes) as well as its simplicity.
Whether you’re an experienced cook or you’re just getting started, Ugali is relatively easy to make and can be prepared usually in under one hour. Impressive or what?
5. Nyama Choma
Whether you’re familiar with African cuisine or not – we’re sure that you’ll have already come across Nyama Choma, even if you might not be familiar with the name.
A staple in African cuisine, Nyama Choma is split between a Tanzania and Kenyan cooking method of preparing goat meat, and consists of a process of barbecuing the meat in a way relatively similar to that of regular American barbecuing.
After the goat’s meat has been prepared and is ready to be eaten, it is traditional to serve Nyama Choma with a variety of different additional side dishes, including pepper relishes, rice, Ugali and more.
Of course, we’re talking about African cuisine here, so it should come as no surprise to hear that Nyama Choma is also usually elevated with a variety of delicious and fragrant seasonings.
If you’re thinking about making Nyama Choma for yourself, you’ll be able to choose from a variety of different seasoning options including rosemary, onions, chili flakes, salt, pepper and even cumin.
In order to effectively prepare the meat following the right bbqing process, the meat is first typically skewered and then basted with a salted water mixture.
Once this has been done, the meat is then typically grilled until the meat becomes tender, juicy and ready to be eaten.
As a side note, rather than simply cutting up the meat into smaller pieces so that the meat can be skewered – you also have the option of simply using whole parts of the goat for convenience.
However, it is traditional to use skewers as this makes it easier to not only eat the meat, but more convenient for your guests, too, as there will already be designated portions for everyone to have their fair share of the goat meat.
Keep in mind that if you do not wish to use goat meat, you can quite easily swap this meat out for a different one. It’s entirely up to you!
Who doesn’t love couscous? Known to be a lighter, fluffier and healthier alternative to regular old rice, couscous is a popular food that is enjoyed all throughout the world!
But, did you know that couscous originally comes from North Africa?
In order to make couscous, this is usually achieved (when following the traditional cooking way) by steaming white granules until they become soft, sticky and fluffy in texture.
Couscous is very popular, so we’re sure that you might have very well tried this food already, but if you haven’t – couscous can be compared with quinoa, as the two types of food are very similar.
If you would like to try couscous for yourself, we highly recommend that you take a trip to a local African restaurant or food spot, as there’s nothing quite like freshly made, authentic North African couscous.
However, if you don’t have an African restaurant in your area or you’d simply like a more affordable way to enjoy this delicious African food, you can alternatively opt to simply purchase pre-prepared couscous from your local grocery store.
7. Bunny Chow
Next up on our list? Bunny Chow! This popular South African dish has a cute name and is made out of a loaf of bread that has been hollowed out and then filled with delicious, freshly prepared curry.
We don’t know about you, but we think it sounds simply delicious.
If you’re interested in trying Bunny Chow for yourself (or even making it from scratch at home) it’s key to remember that Bunny Chow always tastes the best when it has been served hot and fresh.
As the curry is placed inside a loaf of bread, it is recommended that the Bunny Chow is eaten straight away so that it does not become mushy and cold. It’s also a lot of fun to eat and it is traditionally eaten without any culture!
The best part about Bunny Chow is how versatile and easy it is to make. Not only is this South African dish super quick and easy to prepare, but you also have the option of customizing the contents of the load in whichever way you’d like to.
From spicy curries to milder options, vegetarian substitutes and gluten free options – you’re free to prepare your Bunny Chow in whichever way you’d like.
Top tip: If you want a truly authentic experience while eating this popular dish from African cuisine, we recommend adding in some chili paste for a fiery kick.
In the mood for something a little more light and refreshing? If you answered yes to that question, then we think that you should place this next dish at the very top of your “foods to try” list.
Harira, which is a dish that originates from Algeria and Morocco, is a light soup that comes from Maghrebi cuisine and is typically served during Ramadan.
Packing a flavorful and fragrant punch, Harira is typically served with fava beans, eggs, onions, lentils, meat, chickpeas and a variety of spices, too.
When made as follows in the traditional recipe, Harira is typically thickened using bhadouria, which helps to thicken the broth if it is too watery. Tadouria is very easy to come by in grocery stores and even easier to prepare!
It consists of ingredients that you have likely already got sitting around in your kitchen cupboard including ingredients such as tomato paste, lemon juice and flour.
As for the flavor? We’re sure that you’ll be interested to learn that this particular soup has a vibrant flavor that incorporates elements of both sweet and savory.
More often than not, when this soup is being eaten during the Ramadan period, it is typically served at breakfast.
Although, when eaten normally, this soup can be eaten at any time of the day, just make sure that you have a drink of water with you – as the spices can often come with quite a kick!
9. Egusi Soup
Sticking to the theme of soups, next up on our list we have Egusi soup! Thick and hearty, this soup comes from West Africa and is made from a mixture of melon and squash seeds, although some cooks like to add in additional ingredients.
The texture, unlike the soup we have just shared above, is very thick and filling – so much so, that you might mistake it for a chowder.
To create a yummy paste, the two types of seeds are typically ground down until they form a paste texture (if you’re planning on making this at home, you can usually buy Egusi paste already prepared if you don’t want to do this) and then blended with an onion mixture.
Keep in mind that, if you are going to be trying to make your own Egusi paste, you will need to allow yourself an additional cooking time of around 1 hour.
After the paste has been prepared or you’ve bought some from the grocery store, you will then be able togo ahead and begin making the soup.
In order to do this, you’ll need to simply heat up some vegetable stock and then place it in the pan.
After doing this, you can then go ahead and add little balls of the paste you have in the pan, too, all the while making sure to stir to prevent any sticking.
After the vegetable stock and paste has mixed together, you can then proceed to add in all of the additional ingredients that you would like to include in the soup. It is common to add meat, spinach and pumpkin leaf.
10. Jollof Rice
Jollof rice is a very popular African dish that is enjoyed all over the world. It typically consists of a spicy flavor profile and is often elevated with a selection of vegetables and meat.
Jollof rice is very easy to distinguish amongst other types of rice dishes because Jollof rice typically has a reddish-orange color due to the tomato paste used in the cooking process.
More often than not, the type of rice used to prepare Jollof rice is typically parboiled and long grain, although you can use other types of rice if you do not have this.
A true staple in African culture, Jollof rice is so popular in Africa that each region has its own unique way for making it!
In Nigeria, it is customary for the dish to be combined with a traditional bean pudding that is known as moimoi, as well as fried plantains.
On the other hand, in places such as Ghana, it is typically served with a pepper sauce that is called shito.
There are so many varieties of Jollof rice enjoyed all over the world that we recommend you give it a try.
Although, if you’re not sure where to start, we recommend opting for the Nigerian version of Jollof rice to begin because it has a variety of vibrant flavors, as well as the addition of moimoi and plantains!
Ideal for vegetarians, Chakalala is a type of vegetable mix that is often used as relish or garnish depending on the dish it is accompanying. It comes from South Africa and is characterized by a particular fiery flavor profile!
Made from canned beans and a variety of vegetables, chakalaka, while not necessarily a meal – is often used as a topping for a variety of different African dishes, including many of the dishes that we have shared on this list.
Next up we have selected Injera, which is a type of flatbread that originated in East Africa. Unlike other types of flatbread, Injera is unique because it has a slightly bitter taste that complements a variety of different popular African dishes.
Injera is made from teff flour for quality, and can be used in a variety of different ways. Injera is most commonly used to house meats and vegetables (sort of like a wrap) but the bread is designed for dipping purposes.
Last but certainly not least, the final recipe that we have to share with you is Shakshouka! A staple in African cuisine, this delicious dish consists of a mixture of tomato and egg, and is one of the healthier dishes on this list.
Perfect for any time of the day (but especially ideal for breakfast or lunch) shakshuka is a healthy dish that is full of nutrients while also packing plenty of flavor to ensure that you’re totally satisfied.
To enhance the simplicity of this dish, many cooks often opt to incorporate a range of additional ingredients including black pepper, garlic and onions. If you wanted a fiery kick, you could even opt to add in some chili flakes!
With that being said, the flavor of shakshuka can often greatly vary depending on what ingredients have been used in the cooking process/recipe.
Still, it is characterized by its strong flavor of tomato, due to the tomato puree (see also ‘11 Tomato Puree Substitutes‘) that is used to hold the egg.
The Bottom Line
Over to you! Now that you have taken the time to read through all of the above, we hope that we have been able to provide you with some inspiration on which African dishes you should try.
The only question left to ask is, which dish are you going to try first? Thank you for taking the time to read through this post, and happy taste testing!
African cuisine is hearty and flavorful, so we’re sure that whicher dish you decide to try first – you’ll absolutely love it.
As a side note, before you go ahead and click off this post, why don’t you consider bookmarking this page?
That way, if you would ever like to come back and refresh your knowledge on what the most popular African cuisine dishes are, or you simply want to get some inspiration on which African cuisine dish to try next – you’ll know exactly where to find us.