11 Most Popular African Foods and How to Prepare them

By February 4, 2020Food
African Foods

Are you looking to learn more about African foods and their preparation methods? We’ve written this article for you! African foods are drawn across the various African nations in West Africa, South Africa, East Africa, and North Africa. The most notable countries with traditional African foods include Nigeria, Ghana, South Africa, among others. These countries are known for having a variety of popular African foods that will leave your taste buds thirsty for more of such delicacies.

What are the most popular African foods? These are some of the most popular African foods with deep traditional roots:

  1. Pap en vleis (South Africa),
  2. Banku (Ghana)
  3. Bonny Chow (South Africa)
  4. Alloco (Côte d’Ivoire)
  5. Moambe chicken (Democratic Republic of Congo)
  6. Waakye (Ghana)
  7. Cachupa (Cape Verde)
  8. Jollof Rice (Nigeria & Ghana)
  9. Egusi soup (Nigeria)
  10. Nyama na irio (Kenya), etc.

These foods are native to specific countries in Africa but have gained wide popularity among other African and non-African nations. In this article, we’ve presented 11 most popular foods in Africa and their preparation methods. Read on to learn more…

11 Most Popular African Foods and How to prepare them

1. Pap en vleis

Pap en vleis

Image: Flickr.com

This food is deeply rooted in South African history and the most beloved meal by South Africans. Pap en vleis literally mean maize porridge and meat. Sometimes the meat can be barbecued, and the pap is like porridge.

The pap is made from maize meal, and it’s preferable if it’s coarser than American cornmeal, however, it can still be used. The vleis can be prepared with mutton, beef, chicken, and even fish. This popular African meal has little variation; the South African method is the widely used one.

Ingredients and requirements (for the pap):

You will need:

  • 1 cup of water
  • A large pot
  • ½ tbsp of salt
  • A large spoon
  • 1 cup of maize meal

Direction:

  1. Pour the water in a large pot and put it on your cooker or stove. Then add salt and leave the water until it boils.
  2. Add the maize meal gradually and stir with the large spoon. Make sure to continue stirring to prevent lumps.
  3. Keep stirring until it becomes a thick mixture.
  4. Allow it to simmer for about 15 min and stir regularly until it has the mix of dough, and well cooked.
  5. If it’s too thin, you can add more maize meal and stir, and if it’s too thick, you can add water and stir.
  6. Take out the pap from the pot and serve it on a plate.

Ingredients and requirements (for the vleis)

You will need:

  • Chopped 1 or 2 medium-sized onions
  • Chopped 1 or 2 medium-sized ripe red tomatoes
  • 500-gram fresh meat
  • ½ tbsp finely ground ginger
  • ½ tbsp of salt
  • Dried parsley leaves
  • ½ tbsp chili powder
  • ½ tbsp red/black pepper
  • Olive oil
  • Large saucepan
  • Frying pan

Direction (preparing the sauce):

  1. Place the saucepan on medium heat and cover the bottom with olive oil.
  2. Once the oil is very hot, stir fry the onion and ginger for just one minute (don’t use all the ginger and onions, remain a little which we will use later)
  3. To redden the ginger and onions, sprinkle chili powder
  4. Add the red and black pepper and start stirring regularly
  5. Now add 1 tbsp of the salt and stir. And add ½ tbsp of dried parsley leaves then stir.
  6. It will start to simmer from the heat, and the steam would be noticeable
  7. Now add the tomatoes and keep stirring
  8. When the sauce reaches a boiling point, the heat should be slightly reduced. Leave the sauce to boil for 10 to 15 minutes. Start stirring and mashing the tomatoes.
  9. Sprinkle some more chili powder and continue stirring. After about 5 minutes, turn the heat down to low, but if it isn’t yet boiling, then cook for another 10 to 20 minutes before dropping it from the fire.

Direction (preparing the vleis):

  1. Place the frying pan on medium to high heat then pour olive oil into the frying pan. Make sure the olive oil covers the bottom of the frying pan.
  2. When the oil gets hot, add the remaining onions and ginger then stir-fry for some seconds.
  3. Turn the cooker/stove to high heat. Place the meat in the center of the frying pan. That means some meats will be atop other meats
  4. Let the bottom pieces cook then spread the remaining around the frying pan. Stir the meat regularly, so none of it burns
  5. After some time, the water in the meat will cover the bottom of the frying pan. Let the water boil and continue to stir and sprinkle the chili powder.
  6. Once the water has dried, and the bottom of the pan is dark brown from the spices and the heat, you should now add the meat to the sauce. Stir it so it can mix up well and keep under low heat. Let it simmer for 30 minutes, but make sure to stir it occasionally.
  7. Now turn off the heat but still keep it on the stove/cooker so the residual heat can keep it warm.

When you’re ready to serve, the sauce has to be in a soup dish while the pap can be served on a plate. To eat the food, you will have to dip rolls of the pap in the sauce before eating it.

2. Banku

Popular African Foods - Banku

Image: Flickr.com

This is a slightly sour Ghanaian meal prepared with cassava dough and fermented corn. It’s a favorite among the people living in the southern region of Ghana (Ewe tribe, Ga tribe, and the Fante tribe). Nevertheless, it’s still a popular African food among other tribes in Ghana.

To ferment the corn, mix your corn flour with water and cover it with a piece of clothing. Place it in a warm temperature for two days, in the cold season; you might have to leave it for more days. Once it has a slight sourness but no smell, then your fermented corn is ready.

READ ALSO: 9 African Foods That Increase Sperm Count

Ingredients and requirements:

  • Water
  • Saucepan
  • 2 cups of fermented corn dough
  • One grated tuber of cassava
  • Cooking oil
  • 1 cup of chopped onion
  • 1 cup of scotch bonnets
  • One chopped tomato
  • Four chopped garlic
  • 1 Maggi cube
  • Salt and pepper
  • One whole tilapia fish

Direction:

  1. Mix your grated cassava and fermented corn with water until it’s thick.
  2. Heat the mixture until it boils. To ascertain if your Banku is done, put a bit of Banku in water. If it doesn’t dissolve, then it’s ready.
  3. Roll the Banku into fist-sized balls. Now wrap it tightly in rubber or nylon, then place it in a warmer to keep it warm and fresh.

Preparing the stew with tilapia fish

Directions:

  1. Broil the tilapia
  2. Use a food processor or blender to blend the onions and scotch bonnets
  3. Add the tomatoes and blend again
  4. Pour cooking oil into a saucepan and turn up the heat to medium-high.
  5. Pour the mixture in the blender/food processor into the saucepan
  6. Sprinkle the Maggie cubes into the mix.
  7. Reduce the heat to a simmer then add salt to taste.
  8. Stir the mixture. Then cover the saucepan. Let it cook till all the tomato juice has cooked out. When the stew is thick, it’s now ready.
  9. Unwrap the Banku on one side of the plate. On the other side, place the fish and stew.

3. Bunny Chow

Bunny Chow

Image: Flickr.com

This food originated from the Indian South Africans of Durba. It’s creation dates back to the 1940s and was widely sold during the second world war. It can simply be referred to as bunny. This food consists of a hollowed-out loaf of bread with curry poured inside it. This popular African food also has little variation in the way it’s prepared.

Ingredients and requirements:

  • Saucepan
  • 4 cloves
  • 1kg of lamb pieces
  • Oil
  • Salad
  • A large onion (diced)
  • Two tomatoes (chopped)
  • Five small or medium-sized potatoes (quartered)
  • Two large cinnamon sticks
  • 1 tbsp fennel seeds
  • One bay leaf
  • 2 tbsp of sugar
  • Curry leaves (a spring)
  • Six green cardamoms
  • 1 tbsp of crushed green chilies
  • ½ tbsp of turmeric
  • 2 tbsp of dhania-jeeru powder
  • 2 tbsp of crushed garlic and ginger (mixed)
  • 3 tbsp of medium chili powder
  • Fresh coriander (chopped)
  • 1 tbsp of garam masala
  • 1 tbsp of vinegar (preferably white vinegar)
  • Salt

Directions:

  1. Heat the oil in a saucepan then add cardamom, cinnamon, bay leaf, cloves, and fennel seeds. Then stir it.
  2. Add the curry leaves, chilies, ginger and garlic mix, turmeric, onion, and garlic. Leave it to braise for 3-4 mins.
  3. Now add garam masala, chili powder, and dhania-jeeru powder. Then sugar and vinegar. Make sure to mix everything well after the addition.
  4. Add the lamb pieces with salt to taste.
  5. Mix until the lamb pieces are coated with masala
  6. Cover the saucepan and leave it for a few minutes to braise in moderate heat. From time to time, stir the meat until it’s well braised.
  7. Add the potatoes, and add water if needed to prevent it from burning out. When the potatoes have cooked well, now add the chopped tomatoes. Then stir it before adding the coriander. Leave it for a few minutes.
  8. Turn off the heat and serve with salad.

The inner part of the bread should be hollowed out, then scoop the sauce into it and cover with the pieces of bread from the hollowed-out space. Your bunny chow is ready.

ALSO READ: 10 African Foods that Help You Gain Weight

4. Alloco

Alloco

Image: Flickr.com

This is a popular African food – not just Côte d’Ivoire but other countries in Africa. Though it goes by different names in other countries but the taste is almost similar. Besides, this meal is budget-friendly and only takes about 45 minutes to prepare.

Ingredients and requirements:

  • vegetable oil
  • Frying pan
  • Sieve
  • Two ripe plantains
  • 4 Tomatoes (large)
  • ¼ large Green pepper
  • Three cloves of garlic
  • ½ large Onion
  • ½ tbsp Black pepper
  • I tbsp Parsley
  • Salt

Directions:

  1. Wash the plantains and cut the skin away.
  2. Cut it into small pieces and add a pinch of salt.
  3. Mix the tomatoes, green pepper, garlic, and onions on a mixer. When you’re done mixing, pour it into a pot and add salt, parsley, and black pepper.
  4. Place the pot on high heat so the water will evaporate from the mixture. Now add one tablespoon of oil. Wait for 3 minutes before putting it down from the stove.
  5. Place your frying pan on medium-high heat and pour 2 cups of vegetable oil. Let it heat up for 2-3 mins. Then add the plantain. Keep turning the plantain, so it doesn’t burn. When it has turned golden, remove it.
  6. Put the plantain in a sieve for the oil to flow out. You can wait for 2-3 mins. You can wait a bit longer for the plantain to cool down too.
  7. Your plantain is ready. Serve with the tomato sauce and either fish, eggs, or chicken.

5. Moambe Chicken

Moambe Chicken

Image: Flickr.com

This popular African food is also a national dish of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The dish is made with chicken, moambe (palm butter), and spices.

Ingredients and requirements:

  • Pot
  • 6 tbsp of peanut oil
  • 3 lbs of chicken parts
  • Three green onions (chopped)
  • Two onions (chopped)
  • Three cloves of garlic (chopped
  • 1 tbsp of grated ginger root
  • One teaspoon of red pepper flakes
  • A tin of Tomato puree
  • 1 6 oz. can of tomato paste
  • ½ cup of natural palm butter
  • A cup of water
  • Salt

Directions:

  1. Wash the chicken, and then pat dry it. Put 4 tbsp of peanut oil on high heat and let it get hot. Then add the chicken and let it brown on both sides. Remove the chicken from the pot when you’re done.
  2. Turn down the heat to medium-low and add the remaining oil into the pot.
  3. Put the onions and let it saute until it turns golden
  4. Add the tomato paste and puree. Then add the green onions, garlic, red pepper flakes, ginger, salt, and water. Mix everything.
  5. Return the chicken to the pot and mix well with the sauce. Turn the heat to high and leave to boil, then reduce it to low and cover it. Leave it to simmer for 20 mins.
  6. Remove a cup of sauce and mix with the palm butter, then return it to the pot and mix well.
  7. Leave it uncovered and let it cook for 10 mins or more until the chicken is done.
  8. You can now serve your moambe chicken and eat it alone or with other foods of your choice.

6. Waakye

Popular African Foods - Waakye

Image: Flickr.com

This meal originated from the northern parts of Ghana. It’s a dish of rice and beans which you can eat alone or as a supplement with other meals. This popular African food is known by different names in other tribes.

It is much preferable to prepare it with black-eyed peas or kidney beans (make sure to soak the black eye peas overnight so it can get soft quickly when cooking). Nevertheless, you can still make use of any type of beans.

Ingredients and requirements:

  • Pot
  • Sieve
  • ½ cups of parboiled rice
  • ½ cups of beans
  • Sorghum millet (5 stalks)
  • Baking soda (1 teaspoon)
  • Seasoning cube or salt (optional)
  • Water

Directions:

  1. Rinse the rice and beans then sieve it. Set them aside separately.
  2. Rinse the sorghum millet and set aside.
  3. Put your pot on the stove and pour 3 or 4 cups of water. Let it boil then add the sorghum millet and beans. Also, sprinkle the baking powder in it.
  4. Turn the heat to medium and let the beans cook for 15 to 20 mins. When it’s soft, add the rice with the seasoning cube and salt to taste. Allow it to steam until it’s also soft.
  5. When the rice and beans are soft, and the water has dried up, remove the sorghum millet, and serve your waakye. You can eat it with spaghetti, avocado, boiled egg, or any food of your choice.

7. Cachupa

Popular African Foods - Cachupa

Image: Flickr.com

This is a national Cape Verdean meal, which is one of the most popular African food to try out. The leftovers can be re-fried, and it’s called cachupa guisada, cachupa refogada, and cachupa frita. In English, it’s referred to as fried rice.

Ingredients:

  • One large onion (chopped)
  • Two bay leaves
  • One chicken bouillon cube
  • 2 or 3 cloves of garlic (minced)
  • 3 or 4 cups of hominy
  • 1 cup of dry red beans
  • Meat or Tuna
  • A cabbage (chopped)
  • Sweet potato (diced)
  • One pound of tomatoes (sliced)
  • Olive oil
  • Water
  • Pepper
  • Salt

Directions:

  1. Soak the hominy and beans overnight so it can get soft.
  2. Saute the onions and garlic in olive oil for some minutes. Add 4 to 6 cups of water with the soaked hominy, beans, potatoes, and bay leaves. Let it simmer until it’s tender.
  3. Saute the meat or tuna separately with cabbage. Then add tomatoes and let it simmer till it’s soft.
  4. Now pour the meat in a stockpot with salt and pepper to taste. Add the chicken bullion.
  5. Let it cook on low heat for 2 to 3 hours.
  6. Turn off the heat and make sure to cover the pot for about 30 minutes before serving.

ALSO READ: 10 African Foods To Eat During Pregnancy

8. Nigerian Jollof Rice

Popular African Foods - Nigerian Jollof Rice

Image: Flickr.com

Jollof rice is a popular African food, particularly in West Africa. The Nigerian method of preparation is quick and has a distinct taste. Besides, it’s one of the popular meals served during events and festivals.

Ingredients:

  • Parboiled rice (long-grain)
  • Fresh tomato and tomato paste
  • Scotch bonnets and red bell pepper
  • Sliced Onion
  • Chicken or meat
  • Vegetable oil
  • Seasoning cubes
  • Curry and thyme
  • Cloves of Garlic
  • Carrot (optional)
  • Salt
  • Water

Directions:

  1. Wash the meat or chicken and cut it. Then add little of the thyme, garlic, a bit of the seasoning cube, salt, and a small amount of the onions.
  2. Allow the meat to boil until it’s tender.
  3. Blend the tomato, scotch bonnet, and red bell pepper together.
  4. Grill or fry the meat.
  5. Heat very little vegetable oil. The amount of oil you add depends on the cups on rice. But try to make it as little as possible so it can dry properly.
  6. Now add the remaining onions and let it fry for a while before adding the tomato paste and small amount of curry and thyme.
  7. Once it starts boiling, add the meat or chicken and a small cup of water. The water should be enough to cook the rice. You might have to add more cups of water if the rice is much. Add seasoning cube to your taste and salt too. Stir it, then taste to ascertain if the ingredients are enough.
  8. Let it boil for 10 mins. Then pour the rice into the sauce. The sauce should be at the same level as the rice. If the rice is still hard and the water is already drying up, you can add more water, but not too much.
  9. Cover it and let it cook on low or medium heat. Allow it to dry properly. It should be grainy, not mashed.
  10. Serve the rice when it’s dry. You can garnish it with the carrot.

9. Egusi soup

Egusi Soup

Image: Flickr.com

This soup is made from a certain cucurbitaceous plant that has protein-rich seeds. The seeds are dried, grinded, and prepared as a meal. It’s one of the popular African food, especially in the category of soups, it’s definitely worth trying out.

READ ALSO: How Is Afang Soup Prepared?

Moreover, Egusi soup is rich in calcium, iron, sodium, vitamin A and C, protein, potassium, low fat, carbohydrate, fiber, cholesterol, sugar, and saturated fat. It’s a very healthy meal.

Ingredients:

  • Stockfish or dry fish
  • 500g or 4 cups of Egusi
  • 5-7 cups of red palm oil
  • Beef
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 tbsp of ground crayfish
  • Three small stock cubes
  • Bitter leaf or spinach

Directions:

  1. Soak the fish until it’s soft. If the stockfish is tough, you can boil it fit 20 mins and leave it in hot water for about an hour. For softer stockfish, you can just simply soak it in cool water until it can easily be broken apart with the bare hands.
  2. Remove the bones of the fish when it’s dry and break them into chunks.
  3. Grind the Egusi seeds with a dry mill. Make sure the ground Egusi is well coated, or else it will burn when frying. If you bought the already ground Egusi, then skip to the next step.
  4. Grind the dry pepper and crayfish separately.
  5. Now rinse the vegetables and cut them into small pieces

The cooking:

  1. Cook the fish and beef. Sprinkle the stock cubes on them. The toughest fish or beef should be cooked for some minute before adding the other. When it’s done, drain out the stock (the water used in boiling the beef/fish). It will be used later.
  2. Put a dry pot on the heat and pour the red palm oil into it. If the oil is thick, let it melt before pouring the Egusi into it and start frying. Nevertheless, make sure the oil is translucent, either it’s thick or not. Mix the Egusi with oil until it turns yellow.
  3. Turn the heat to low or medium and stir-fry for 10 mins.
  4. Add the water you used in cooking the fish and beef. It should be added little by little, then stir the Egusi, and add little again until you use all the stock.
  5. After using all the stock and the soup is still thick, add some hot water the same way you did with the stock till you get the consistency of your choice. Now add the bitter leaf (if that’s your choice). If you’re using spinach, do not add it yet.
  6. Cover the pot and let it cook for 20 mins, make sure to keep stirring the soup at intervals. If it gets too thick, you can top up the water, but make sure you stay close, or else it will burn. Moreover, make sure it’s cooked long enough because it might cause upset stomach if it isn’t well cooked.

Final stage:

  1. Your soup is ready when the oil separates from the mix.
  2. Now add the pepper and crayfish. Stir it, then also add the spinach. Stir it again, then add the fish and beef. Add salt to your taste, and if it’s too thick for your liking, you can add little water.
  3. Cover it and let it simmer for some minutes.
  4. Now you can turn off the heat. Your meal is done. Serve it with solid foods like fufu, pounded yam, and so on.

10. Nyama na irio

Nyama na irio

Image: Flickr.com

This dish originated from the Kikuyu people. This popular African food has several variations, especially in the ingredients used. However, peas, corn, and potatoes are essential ingredients. Nyama na irio is usually served with grilled steak. It’s a tasty Kenyan dish.

Ingredients and requirements:

  • Potato masher
  • A large and small saucepan
  • 2 cups of green peas
  • Salt
  • 2 cups of corn.
  • 1½ pounds of potatoes chunks
  • Water

Directions:

  1. Put the potatoes and peas in a large saucepan and pour enough water. Make sure the water covers the potatoes.
  2. Add two teaspoon of salt and put the stove in medium heat
  3. Let it boil, then reduce the heat and allow it to simmer until the potatoes have cooked well and are soft.
  4. Drain the water into a plate or small bowl
  5. Put the smaller saucepan on the fire and pour the corn in it. Add a little salt, then leave it to simmer for some minutes.
  6. Use the potato masher to mash the peas and potatoes together.
  7. Now pour the mashed potatoes and peas into the corn. A little of the reserved water should be added to it and stir for a while. Now add salt and pepper to your taste.
  8. Your food is ready to be served and enjoyed.

11. Akara

Popular African Foods - Akara

Image: Flickr.com

This popular African food is prepared with peeled beans and spices – deep-fried. It’s a popular food in West African countries and Brazil (especially in the city of Salvador). This food is eaten as a snack and also used as a religious offering to the gods in Candomblé religion.

Ingredients and requirements:

  • 1 Habanero pepper (chopped)
  • 1 cup of peeled beans
  • Salt
  • Oil
  • Deep pan
  • Mixer or whisk
  • Small cooking spoon
  • Slotted spoon and sieve
  • ½ tsp of baking soda
  • ½ medium-sized onion (chopped)

Directions:

  1. Pour ¼ cup of water in a blender with the beans and blend until it’s a smooth paste.
  2. Pour it in a bowl and mix with the whisk or mixer for five mins. This helps to get air into the mix.
  3. Add the habanero peppers, onions, and salt to taste, then stir.
  4. Put the deep pan on medium heat and add some oil. Let the oil get hot.
  5. Scoop the mix with the cooking spoon, and pour it into the oil gently. Do not spread it. Repeat the scooping of the mix until the pan is filled.
  6. Fry both sides until it’s golden brown. Then use the slotted spoon to lift them out into the sieve to drain the oil.
  7. You can leave it for some minutes to get cold. Enjoy the Akara balls with bread, fried plantain, fried yam, and so on.

Note: The thickness of the mixture and method of frying affects the shape of the Akara. A watery mixture or shallow frying results in flat Akara.

Conclusion

While the list can almost be limitless, the above foods are some popular African foods you can find even in other countries of the world. More so, most of these foods are found in African foods restaurants across the globe, and you can get them there or prepare on your own following our guide.

These meals are effortless to prepare. The cooking time doesn’t exceed 1hr 30 mins, and some take less than 40 mins. Besides, the ingredients of these popular African foods are readily accessible on the market or online stores.

Moreover, we’ve taken our time to research the best variation of these meals, and it’s written straightforwardly for better understanding.

Got any African meal you think should be included here? Let us know via the comment section!

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