20 West African Foods You Must Try - Chef's Pencil (2023)

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Vonsuzan esteves


  • african cuisine
20 West African Foods You Must Try - Chef's Pencil (1)

Welcome aboard this culinary cruise as we sail along the beautiful coast of West Africa and savor the flavors of this region rich in history and culture.

Food tells a story, from the beginnings of indigenous foods to discovering new worlds and integrating foods from distant lands. We'll explore delicious native foods like beans, leafy greens, bananas and cassava and discover indelible culinary influences from the Americas, Asia and Europe. All aboard!

1. Explain

20 West African Foods You Must Try - Chef's Pencil (2)

If you travel to West Africa this is a must visit.from SenegalIt's so good that it's become popular in West Africa, and there's no question why.

Chicken is marinated in mustard and lemon, then slow grilled for a smoky flavor in a base of caramelized onions, garlic and pepper. You can also find Yassa with fish, and the results are just as delicious.


2. Thieboudienne

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The national dish ofSenegal, is also found in Guinea-Bissau, Guinea Conakry, Mali and MauritaniaGambiaThieb or tiep is usually made with firm, smoked or fresh white fish, and can also be made with meat (tiep yappa) or chicken (tiep ganaar).

What sets Thieb apart is the delicious garlic and parsley marinade/filling and a seasoning called netetou that gives the tomato, garlic and onion sauce a delicious umami flavor. Other ingredients include vegetables such as okra, eggplant and sweet potatoes and usually broken rice as it is cheaper than premium rice.

It is served in a large bowl with the rice underneath and the fish stew on top, and is eaten by hand or with a spoon when visiting guests or friends. Divine!

3. Enter

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One of Cameroon's national dishes, endole is a beautiful blend of bitter leafy greens, spices, lots of peanut oil and protein, and the optional addition of meat or fish. A rich and high-calorie dish, it is always found at parties and celebrations in Cameroon. O Indol!

4. Kedjenou

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from Ivory Coast, Kedjenou is a deliciously flavorful meat and vegetable stew, usually made with chicken or guinea fowl. Cooked slowly in a sealed clay pot with little to no liquid, the resulting dish is juicy, flavorful and tender.

It's surprisingly easy to make and well worth the wait! Served with attieke, a garnish made from ground cassava with a texture similar to couscous, it is a healthy dish with a unique flavor.

5. Jollof

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There is a (sometimes heated) debate about the origins ofanti-, but is commonly known asnigerian creation, with variations in West Africa. To say it's an easy tomato and rice dish would be to understate this delicious one-pot wonder.

With an array of delicious spices, vegetables and even meat if you like, this dish rivals any tomato rice anywhere in the world. There's even a songCuppy – Jollof im Jet ft. Rema & Rayvanny (video animation) – YouTube) com o texto "Pass the jollof, the party jollof; I can't get enough..." É verdade!

6. Fufu

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Fufu is a food made from fresh or fermented cassava, a staple in the region. Cassava is ground into flour, then mixed with water and cooked over high heat until a paste with different textures is obtained, depending on the food you serve or your preferences.

You can find versions of fufu all over Africa, of course, with debates over who is better. But overall, any version of this warm starchy pasta that's eaten with your hands and dipped in your favorite sauce or stew is a must-try treat for everyone.

7. Mapping

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A popular street food, alloco, as it is called in Ivory Coast, is simply fried plantains. But when you serve it with a meal, it makes a delicious accompaniment with a delicious chilli sauce that brings all the flavors in the dish to life. Plantains are another staple of the region (lucky me), and neighboring countries have their own names and variations for the fried treat.

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Benin and Nigeria havevegetarian,Ganahatkelewele,EhatBetrayand Congo haslet's dig.

8. Maafe (West African peanut stew)

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Meaning 'sauce' in the Fula language, this delicious dish is very popular in West Africa, with regional variations of course, but always includes a tasty peanut sauce (peanut allergy? Sorry!) and some kind of meat, although they can also be prepared in a vegan can.

With rich flavors of tomato, onion, garlic, ginger, herbs, greens, pepper, meat and peanuts, this iconic dish can be served with rice, couscous, fufu or my favorites, sweet potato or yam. The mix of sweet, salty and spicy is fire!

9. Melon Soup

20 West African Foods You Must Try - Chef's Pencil (10)

Variations of this delicious soupIt can be found throughout West Africa, but isvery popular in nigeria. Unique is the use of protein- and fat-rich melon seeds (egusi) from certain plants, which are then dried and ground as a thickening agent.

In addition to seeds, water and oil, egusi soup usually contains green leafy vegetables such as bitter leaves or gourd leaves, palm oil, other vegetables such as tomatoes and okra, spices and meat.

In Nigeria, a coastal country, you can often find egusi prepared with a choice of fresh cod or catfish, with ground crayfish for added flavor. If you make it with meat, you can add offal to add flavor and texture. Whatever your preference, always enjoy your egusi with starchy yam puree or garri/eba (below). And if you eat it with your hands, it gets even better!

10. Okra soup/stew

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Okra is native to West Africa and can be found in a variety of dishes. This underrated and underrated mallow plant packs antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and fiber into its gooey little body.

Mixed with meat and fish and/or shellfish, then mixed with beans, vegetables and spices, this is a satisfying dish no matter what you think of okra.

11. Akara/Koose (bean fritters)

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Yes, the meals are great, but let's not forget the snacks. And who doesn't like a pancake? Introduced from rest of West AfricaNigeriaBlack-eyed peas are ground into flour, mixed with oil, water and spices, especially pepper, and fried until golden brown.

These light and fluffy pepper bombs are a common breakfast and fast food staple in West Africa and even as far afield asBrazilYWhyWho says you can't have sandwiches for breakfast?

12. Scary Soup

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Palm nuts/fruits are listed here with banga soup or ofe akwu. The recipe calls for a rich selection of fish, shellfish, meat, green leafy vegetables, vegetables, seasonings and spices. Served with any kind of fufu or starch, the mix of flavors will drive you crazy for palm fruits.

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13. Harry

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Known for its health benefits, Garri is a flour made from the cassava tuber.Popular in NigeriaAnd throughout West Africa, garri (also known as eba) is widely consumed as it is widely available, affordable and can be consumed in a variety of ways.

Mixed with other nuts, cereals can be eaten as a snack. Mix with water or milk and sugar to make a drink or porridge. Cooked with hot water, it is your favorite fufu or dumpling with any kind of soup or stew. A versatile staple that you can add your own pizzazz to!

14. Cachupa

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The national dish ofCape Verde, Cachupa is the delicious blend of West Africa,Portuguese,Asianand South American influences. It is a hearty, protein-rich, slow-cooked stew made with corn, beans, ground starch, vegetables, spices and meats such as pork,Wurstfish or seafood.

It's so ubiquitous that each of the nine islands has its own version, there are "rich (with meat)" and "lean (only vegetables)" versions, and you can even turn leftovers into a delicious reheated breakfast called cachupa braised with egg accompaniments. and sausage. Very good morning!

Related:20 popular foods in Cape Verde

15. The horse

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Although this dish is originally from Brazilcar, Calulu is one of themost popular dishes in Angolaand Sao Tome and Principe.

A tasty fish stew that uses various local ingredients, such as dried white fish (although you can use fresh fish or even dried meat), leaves from local plants such as sweet potato or cassava, okra and a very healthy dose of red palm oil. FYI, palm oil does not contain cholesterol, so treat yourself!

16. Stewed Vegetables

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Across Africa you will find a wide variety of delicious leafy green vegetables that grow in the wild and are used in cooking, and West Africa is no different.

Cassava, squash, yams, sweet potatoes, jute mallow, amaranth and other leaves are used in a variety of delicious and healthy soups, stews and other fiber-rich dishes.

17. West African sweet potato stew

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This delicious vegan sweet potato and vegetable casserole is easy and good to make in one pot. With the warm flavors of coriander, cumin and Scotch chili, this is your favorite recipe for a cozy night at home or to impress your friends.

18. Superkanja

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Known as the Gambian Super Soup, this tasty dish of delicacies can be found in several countries. Its name comes from the Portuguese word for soup (sopa) and a West African word for okra (kanja), which gives the dish its distinctive texture.

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Packed with nutrients from various leafy greens, meats and vegetables, this is enough in a bowl. Whether as soup or stew with rice, Superkanja is great!

19. Root Root

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One of the best bean dishes you'll have in West Africa (and possibly the world!) comes from Ghana and uses native black-eyed peas, also known as black-eyed peas. They say that the name comes from the intense red color that the food acquires due to the red of palm oil and tomato.

Often made with fish, canned or fresh, and lots of spices, it's served with fried plantains and rice, quinoa or kenkey, a traditional food similar to fufu but made with corn. The combination produces a savory, sweet, hot and spicy delight.

20. Puff pastry

20 West African Foods You Must Try - Chef's Pencil (21)

To round off this gastronomic journey, we're going to satisfy our sweet tooth with simple, light and fluffy puff pastry. You can never turn down a good donut, and this is just that: a simple dough that is rolled into small balls, deep-fried until golden brown, then coated with sugar or spices and shamelessly popped into your mouth repeatedly. Many West African countries have proper names: micate/bolinho (Angola and Cape Verde), ligemat (Sudan), boflot (Ghana), bofloto (Ivory Coast), kala (Liberia), etc.

And there you have this condensed but very incomplete list of the best foods in West Africa. I hope the thought of those meals tempting your taste buds every day makes you want to visit. I know I can't wait to go back and get some!

Related:Most popular foods in Nigeria
Related:The most popular foods in Ghana
Related:East African popular foods

20 West African Foods You Must Try - Chef's Pencil (23)

suzan esteves

Suzan was born in Canada, grew up with Portuguese parents and has lived in southern Africa for 15 years. She loves all things art and culture, with a particular interest in dance, music, food, languages ​​and travel.

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What are common West African foods? ›

Peas, Beans and Cassava

Plentiful and easy to grow these basic starches or carbohydrates are the backbone of West African foods. Other favourites include yams, sweet potatoes, corn, rice, millet and the best of all cassava. Cassava is milled into flour, which is then used to make dough called Fufú.

What is the most popular food in West Africa? ›

Jollof rice, also called benachin, is a popular dish all over West Africa. It originated in Senegal but has since spread to the whole of West Africa, especially Nigeria and Ghana amongst members of the Wolof ethnic group, from whom the word "jollof" originated.

What is the best African food to try? ›

15 of Africa's favorite dishes
  1. Pap en vleis/Shisa nyama, South Africa. Feast your eyes on these succulent steaks. ...
  2. Piri piri chicken, Mozambique. Stop. ...
  3. Jollof rice and egusi soup, Nigeria. ...
  4. Bunny chow, South Africa. ...
  5. Kapenta with sadza, Zimbabwe. ...
  6. Chambo with nsima, Malawi. ...
  7. Namibian venison, Namibia. ...
  8. Muamba de Galinha, Angola.
Jul 12, 2017

What is West Africa's national dish? ›

Jollof rice is the celebration dish of West Africa. At its basic, it includes rice, tomatoes, onions and chili peppers. But there are a zillion variations, depending on your country of origin, and the friendly rivalry can get intense over which version reigns supreme.

What is the main African food? ›

A typical West African meal is made with starchy items and can contain meat, fish as well as various spices and herbs. A wide array of staples are eaten across the region, including fufu, banku, kenkey (originating from Ghana), foutou, couscous, tô, and garri, which are served alongside soups and stews.

What are spicy West African foods? ›

Some of the most popular spicy African dishes include West African chicken stew, Jollof rice, Curry goat, Chakalaka, Banku and okra stew, Kebabs, Egusi soup, and Pepper soup, among others that will be discussed in this blog post.

What is African Americans favorite food? ›

Traditional African American comfort foods include homemade macaroni and cheese, fried chicken, red beans and rice, cornbread, seasoned greens, mashed potatoes and gravy, and ice-cold sweet tea. Although many of these foods are not considered the healthy choices, they excite our taste buds and warm our hearts.

What are popular African foods in America? ›

Jambalaya (mixed rice, meat and vegetables), feijoada (black beans and meat), gombo(okra), and hopping johns (peas) are all dishes that have been re-adapted from Senegal, Nigeria, Guinea and Benin. You will find variations of these dishes in America and the Caribbean region.

What are West African flavors? ›

Popular spices to use in West African food include garlic, ginger, and nutmeg. Not only are these great-tasting spices that add much to African cuisine, but they also pack many health benefits. Sumbala is a popular flavoring that is used like a bouillon cube and is often made from soybeans.

What type of rice is eaten in West Africa? ›

Jollof (/dʒəˈlɒf/), or jollof rice, is a rice dish from West Africa. The dish is typically made with long-grain rice, tomatoes, onions, spices, vegetables and meat in a single pot, although its ingredients and preparation methods vary across different regions.

What did ancient West Africans eat? ›

The first human settlements in West Africa date back to 4000 BCE, and the roots of West African food certainly reach this far too; many of the indigenous vegetables and spices that define West African food – rice, yam, plantain, cassava and the like – all existed there thousands of years ago.

What are African food called? ›

African dishes
Name of dishCountry/region
PapSouthern Africa, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Malawi
Pap en VleisSouth Africa
PastillaAlgeria and Morocco
Pepper soupWest Africa, notably Nigeria
128 more rows

What was the first food in Africa? ›

Before people started farming, African hunters and gatherers ate mainly fruit (especially figs), with some meat and fish and seafood and eggs. Along the coasts, Africans also fished and gathered shellfish.

What food does Africa eat the most? ›

10 Most Popular African Foods
  • Jollof rice is a meal prepared and enjoyed across the West African sub-region. ...
  • If you happen to find yourself in Central Africa, specifically Cameroun, then do not let this delightful appetizer pass you by. ...
  • Couscous is a staple dish, enjoyed across the vast North African landscape.
Jul 20, 2018

What is West Africa known for? ›

West Africa has a rich ecology, with strong biodiversity and several distinct regions. The area's climate and ecology are heavily influenced by the dry Sahara to the North and East, which provides dry winds during the Harmattan, as well as the Atlantic Ocean to the South and West, which provides seasonal monsoons.

What is African rice called? ›

There are only two species of cultivated rice in the world: Oryza glaberrima, or African rice, and Oryza sativa, or Asian rice.

What are the 12 types of food? ›

What are the five food groups?
  • Fruit and vegetables.
  • Starchy food.
  • Dairy.
  • Protein.
  • Fat.
Oct 11, 2019

What are the 10 types of food? ›

What are the 10 types of food?
  • Vegetables.
  • Fruits.
  • Grains, legumes, nuts and seeds.
  • Meat and poultry.
  • Fish and seafood.
  • Dairy foods.
  • Eggs.

What are the 7 Super food? ›

These standouts — plus a few 'boosters' — can keep you healthy as nutritional needs change with age
  • Berries. ...
  • Dark-green leafy vegetables. ...
  • Seafood. ...
  • Nuts and seeds. ...
  • Cottage cheese. ...
  • Beans and legumes. ...
  • Water. ...
  • Avocados.
Aug 4, 2022

What are 5 African foods you thought were American? ›

Among the most important of these, says African American foodways author and scholar Jessica B. Harris—whose research helped shape the Sweet Home Café menu—are black-eyed peas, okra, watermelon, kola nuts, and coffee.

What fruit is famous Africa? ›

For probably as long as people have lived in Africa, they have eaten culturally and traditionally important indigenous fruits such as baobab, desert date, black plum, and tamarind.

What is Africa's favorite fruit? ›

#1 – Pineapples

The pineapple is a very popular and widely consumed fruit in many parts of Africa. It is second only to bananas as the most important harvested fruit. Despite the perfect fit that Africa's tropical climate and soils have for pineapples, very few countries on the continent are big producers of the fruit.

Which fruit is native to West Africa? ›

Ackee. While ackee is the national fruit of Jamaica, it's native to West Africa, where it grows on tropical evergreen trees.

What is fufu made of? ›

It consists of starchy foods—such as cassava, yams, or plantains—that have been boiled, pounded, and rounded into balls; the pounding process, which typically involves a mortar and pestle, can be laborious. Fufu is often dipped into sauces or eaten with stews of meat, fish, or vegetables.

Is jollof rice Jamaican or Nigerian? ›

Jollof rice is a common staple dish loved by many different cultures in Western/Sub-Saharan Africa. It is most commonly considered a Nigerian or Ghanaian recipe but is also common in Mali, Senegal, Gambia, Liberia, and many other countries in the region.

Why is it called jollof rice? ›

Jollof rice is a popular dish in West Africa. The name "jollof" originates from a Senegambian kingdom called the Jolof Empire. Many countries of the sub-continent have their own methods of preparation, but the ongoing feud between Nigeria and Ghana regarding whose jollof rice is better may never be resolved.

Did West Africans eat meat? ›

Before slavery, in West Africa, our diet consisted heavily of plant-based foods such as ground provisions, fruits and greens. Meat was either not on the menu or eaten occasionally in smaller portions as a stew. They also consumed no dairy products.

What are popular African American foods? ›

Traditional African American comfort foods include homemade macaroni and cheese, fried chicken, red beans and rice, cornbread, seasoned greens, mashed potatoes and gravy, and ice-cold sweet tea. Although many of these foods are not considered the healthy choices, they excite our taste buds and warm our hearts.

What are the 6 best foods? ›

Healthy foods to eat every day: 6 of the best
  • Lean protein.
  • Cruciferous vegetables.
  • Different colored vegetables.
  • Berries.
  • Nuts.
  • Olive oil.
  • Summary.
May 27, 2021

What are 7 foods? ›

The 7 components of a balanced diet are Carbohydrates, Proteins, Fats, Vitamins, Minerals, Fibre and Water.

What are the 7 types of food? ›

Food is divided into 7 different groups : drinks, carbs, fruits and vegetables, dairy, meat / fish / eggs, fats and high-sugar foods. Each of these groups provide different nutrients and should be consumed at a different rate.

What traditions did West Africans have? ›

Folktales, proverbs, and storytelling were popular oral traditions of West Africa that have influenced writers of our culture. These traditions were practiced by griots, who were skilled poet-musicians that told stories as well as performed music, dances, and drama to help preserve West African history and its legacy.


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