If you heard that Africa is home to the best dishes in the world – you heard right! It is safe to say that the African continent is the food capital of the universe.
In Africa, every bite tells a story of the people and their cultural heritage. Here, dishes are not made; they are crafted to create a unique identity and offer a peek into the beauty of Africa.
The taste of an African dish is an invitation to experience the warmth and sweetness of the people.
According to official documentation, the African continent is home to 54 independent countries and more than 1.3 billion people – originating from over 3,000 tribes. Each of these tribes boasts of more than a dozen dishes synonymous with their tribe and culture.
Although most of these dishes may appear on international culinary menus, they are woefully misrepresenting what they truly embody back home in Africa.
In this article, we have highlighted ten unique African dishes from ten different countries on the continent. You should try one or more of these African dishes in 2021; thank us later!
In no particular order, here are 10 unique African dishes you should try in 2021.
1. Egusi Soup, Nigeria
Nigerian Egusi Soup is a soup thickened with ground melon seeds made with pumpkin leaves or bitter leaves. It is one of the most popular soups prepared by most tribes in Nigeria with considerable variation and is often eaten with dishes like Pounded Yams.
Ground egusi (or pumpkin seeds) is the main ingredient. Other ingredients include red palm oil, African crayfish, meats and fish, seasoning, hot pepper, and leafy greens.
2. Bunny chow, South Africa
Bunny chow, often referred to as a bunny, is a South African fast food dish consisting of a hollowed-out loaf of white bread filled with curry. It originated among Indian South Africans of Durban.
Bunny chow is essentially a kind of bread bowl. You take a loaf of white bread, hollow out the middle and fill it with a curry, either vegetarian beans or some meat. But not a rabbit. The name "bunny" comes from the corruption of an Indian term referring to merchants.
3. Muamba de Galinha, Angola
Muamba de galinha or chicken muamba is a dish made with chicken, red palm oil sauce called muamba de dendem, garlic, okra and gindungo - a variety of Angolan hot chile pepper. Palm oil gives the dish a specific flavor, while lycopene provides the red color.
Gindungo is an optional ingredient while preparing the dish. It can be made in spicy or mild versions, depending on personal preferences. The dish is traditionally accompanied by fungee (a starchy food prepared by boiling and stirring corn or cassava into a porridge) and tender cooked beans seasoned with palm oil and salt.
4. Zanzibari Biryanis and Pilaus, Zanzibar
Both Pilau and Biryani originated somewhere around the Middle East, but the two dishes spread far and wide due to their high level of deliciousness. The Arab world and the Indian Subcontinent developed their variations, perfecting their recipes and sharing the good news to the world's most remote locations.
The rice itself is cooked in similar spices but in a separate pot from the meat and sauce. After both are finished, the rice and meat sauce are combined, flavoring the rice and bringing the dish together.
5. Nyama na Irio, Kenya
Formerly a dish of the Kikuyu people, Irio is a hearty and nutritious accompaniment to meals that have become popular throughout Kenya. Irio has many variations, but potatoes and peas are the staple ingredients, with corn the most popular addition. This food is famously paired with grilled steak in the combination known as nyama na irio.
In Kenya, dried green peas are often used for this dish and need to be soaked in water and then cooked separately from the potatoes.
6. Koshari, Egypt
Koshari (also spelled, Kushari) is the national dish of my birthplace, Egypt. By far one of my favorite things to eat--EVER! No matter how far I've traveled, I will always crave a humble bowl of koshari as served in the streets of Egypt.
Koshary, also kushari and koshari, is Egypt's national dish and a portion of widely popular street food. An Egyptian dish that originated during the mid-19th century combines Italian and Middle Eastern culinary elements.
7. Pastilla au pigeon/b'stilla, Morocco
B'stilla is one of those classic sweet-savory Moroccan dishes that is an absolute must at any celebration, whether religious or secular. It is the first course served at a diffa (which means "reception" and describes a celebratory meal). One of the seasonings in the filling is ras el-hanout, possibly the most complex of all Islamic spice mixtures and usually used with game or in sweet-savory tagines.
B'stilla is traditionally cooked on top of the stove in a tobsil (a large, flat hand-beaten iron pan). Then, once the pie is cooked, the top is sprinkled with powdered sugar and decorated with crisscrossed lines of ground cinnamon.
8. Piri Piri Chicken, Mozambique
Piri Piri chicken is a traditional dish. It's usually grilled and charred whole chicken pieces covered in a chili-based paste or sauce. The sauce or paste uses African Bird's Eye Chili, which is grown all over northern Africa and southern Portugal.
When made in its most traditional way, Piri Piri is prolonged food. However, I love to give you a taste of different and exciting foods in a way that is modified for simplicity in your home kitchen.
Piri Piri sauce is a little spicy, a little sweet, salty, and complex. It's like a little explosion of flavor in your mouth. The step that makes this chicken flavor central is the char from the griddle pan. It tastes like BBQ'd chicken – but better!
9. Chambo with Nsima, Malawi
Malawian chambo is a type of fish that is endemic to Lake Malawi, also known as Lake Nyasa. The freshwater fish is in the Tilapia family and, therefore, an easy fish to find to make this delicious dish. The recipe calls for two ingredients that need to be made ahead of time.
One is a curry spice blend, and the other is a fruit chutney. The fish is fried and then cooked in sort of a gravy. The result is outstanding, and we understand why this is one of the beloved dishes of Malawi.
The meal is served alongside the national dish called Nsima, which is cornmeal. This delicious sauce would be fantastic on chicken or eggs or toast or any number of things.
Cachupa is a famous dish from the Cape Verde Islands, West Africa. It is a slow-cooked stew of corn (hominy), beans, cassava, sweet potato, fish or meat (sausage, beef, goat, or chicken), and often morcela (blood sausage).
Referred to as the country's national dish[, each island has its regional variation. The version of the recipe called cachupa rica tends to have more ingredients than the simpler cachupa pobre.
Credit: Afri Food Network, The Mediterranean Dish, Taste Atlas, Migrationology, Daily Africa