Our “Africa’s 20 most popular foods” caused quite a stir on social media with many readers feeling certain foods were left out of the mix. While we tried to keep the ranking centered on foods that are regionally or cross-continentally popular, it fast became clear that the list was particularly meat-heavy, and that there are some local delicacies that we just should not have left out.
So, after great deliberation over more African dishes and suggestions sent in, here are the 20 foods that missed the list:
We featured plantains on the original list, but our east African friends did not recognise the name. Matooke is the name it’s given in the Great Lakes and eastern African region. They cook it differently from West Africa too – here it is usually cooked and mashed or pounded into a meal and sometimes steamed in banana leaves.
Pronounced ba-boor-tea, the national dish of South Africa is a delicious mixture of spiced meat casserole topped with egg custard. Inside you can find a few bay leaves, rich curry power, garlic, ginger, lemon juice, raisins, almonds and even chutney.
3. Moin Moin or Moyi Moyi or Moi Moi
A traditional Nigerian food made with steamed ground beans and spices. It is usually a mixture of washed and peeled black-eyed peas, onions and fresh ground peppers. This is then scooped into containers and steamed.
4. Egusi Soup
Enjoyed all over West Africa, but particularly by Nigerians, Egusi soup has a basic preparation with slight regional variations. The thick soup is made with the seeds of certain cucurbitaceous (gourd or melon) plants. It also usually contains leaf vegetables (such as bitter leaf), chilly peppers and meat or crayfish.
5. Sukuma Wiki
An affordable staple green, common in East Africa but most popular in Kenya, sukuma wiki are collard greens literally translated as “push the week”. They are usually thinly sliced and sautéed with onions and tomatoes.
6. Sambusa, Samosa
Originally from the Middle East, introduced to India and Pakistan before ending up on African shores, this fried or baked pastry is widely known on the African continent. It has many variations but is usually stuffed with a savoury filling, such as spiced potatoes, onions, peas or ground lamb or beef.
Popular in the Maghrebian countries of Tunisia, Libya, Algeria and Morocco, this hot chili pepper paste is made from roasted red peppers and hot chili peppers and spices and herbs. The paste is added to many recipes to enhance flavour.
8. Bol Renverse
Popular in the island nations of Madagascar and Mauritius, Bol Renverse is translated as “upside down bowl”. A relic of Chinese immigrants, it consists of a fried egg popped into a bowl, topped with stir-fried vegetables and meat and finally rice. The dish is turned over revealing a dome-shaped three-layer dish.
A group of African spinach (includes Lerotho, Thepe, Lephutsi, Delele, Nawa) popular in southern Africa. They are usually served simply shredded and sautéed though also commonly seen in fritters and stews.
Yassa is a spicy marinated dish prepared with poultry or fish. Originally from Senegal, yassa has become popular throughout West Africa. It is usually made with chicken marinated overnight in a combination of spices, lemon and mustard – this is then grilled and the marinate made into a sweet tart sauce to go with the meat.
A traditional delicacy in Uganda which uses a basic banana-leaf cooking method that has been common across Africa for centuries. The meat (typically beef) is steamed in the banana-leaf with various accompaniments giving it a unique flavour.
Usually eaten by hand, this dough-type wheat porridge dish is popular in northern Africa. It is made of wheat flour or whole-meal flour dough cooked in water, and is eaten with honey or melted butter.
13. Fit Fit or Fir Fir
This Ethiopian and Eritrean breakfast dish is a combination of shredded injera, berbere, onions, and clarified butter. In Eritrea leftover sauces from meals are typically added.
14. Seychelles Bat Curry
This may not be a continentally popular dish, but it was too unique to leave off. While some chickens are raised on the islands, all beef, pork and lamb are flown in making the home-grown fruit bat an alternative protein. The bat is cooked in a typical Seychellois coconut curry sauce.
Originally from Mali, this groundnut stew is popular across West and Central Africa. Recipes for the stew vary wildly, but commonly include a form of meat, groundnuts, peanut butter, tomatoes, onion, garlic and leaf or root vegetables.
A Bantu dish popular in Central and Southern Africa, it has several variations but it is typically made from slowly cooked sugar beans and samp (crushed corn kernels).
17. Cachoupa or Manchup
Similar to the feijoada popular in Mozambique, this Cape Verdean favourite is a slow cooked stew of corn, fish or meat and beans. It is often referred to as the country’s national dish.
A type of sausage popular in South African cuisine, and now found all over the continent. This spiral-shaped sausage is a popular barbeque meat in South Africa. The name is derived from the Afrikaans words boer (“farmer”) and wors (“sausage”).
19. Thiéboudienne or Benachin
A staple of Senegal’s Wolof people, it is a dish made of fresh fish, aged smoked fish, rice and a savoury tomato sauce. It is well recognised in Gambia and across West Africa.
20. Pepper Soup
A firm favourite in Nigeria, Ghana, Liberia and Sierra Leone, this hot and spicy soup has variations that include goat, catfish, ground shrimp, thyme, chillies and bitterleaf.
•Does this settle the African foods debate? Comment below or write us at [email protected]