8 African Dishes You Have To Try (and recipes to help you along)….

The African continent boasts a wide variety dishes and tastes. Some dishes are the same amongst regions, some have variations while others are simply limited to single countries and areas. I asked a few of my favorite African food bloggers to share their favorite recipes and they delivered.  In today’s posting, I introduce you to 8 dishes you have to try. I also provide you with recipes to help you make them in the luxury of your own kitchen.

Coconut Rice

Coconut Rice: Courtesy of 9jafoodie

Hmmm, the Taste of the Tropics . A wonderful accompaniment to a roast or stew. It is highly fragrant and the spices used in this recipe give this savory dish a subtle kick.

Rev up the nutrition: 

Reduce total fat content by using low fat coconut milk

Boost the nuritional value by substituting the white rice with with brown rice, quinoa or whole wheat couscous

Fight inflammation and Alzheimer’s disease by adding a hint of turmeric

Make this in your kitchen: http://www.9jafoodie.com/2011/12/coconut-rice

 Egusi Soup

Egusi Soup; Courtesy of Lohi’s Creations

Sometimes nicknamed “The National Dish of Nigeria,”  the star of this dish, Egusi,” comes from the seed of the West African Bitter Melon. As a seed, it is  high in protein and healthy fats. Egusi seeds can be found in Ethnic African Food Stores but if unable to find them, pumpkin seeds  make a fine substitution.

Rev Up The Nutrition

Reduce the amount of tripe and add more of the dried fish to decrease overall fat and cholesterol

Reduce saturated fat content by using 1/8 cup vegetable oil and 1/8 cup palm oil instead of 1/4 cup palm oil. That way you still get the wonderful flavor and color of palm oil without the saturated fat.

Double up (Triple up even) on spinach/bitter leaf….one can never have too many veggies

 Make this in your kitchen:  http://www.lohiscreations.com/2012/04/egusi-soup.html

Poisson Braise (West African Grilled Fish)

Poisson Braise; Courtesy of Kadirecipes

Travel along the African coast and you will find a wide variety of fish for sale. Often cooked whole (including the head), fish is a very versatile and important source of protein in the African diet.  Drizzle a little lime or lemon juice over this very simple dish and experience the authentic taste of African seafood.

Rev Up the Nutrition

Choose a fatty fish such as Salmon for increased levels of Omega-3 fatty acids

Reduce Sodium Content by using 1/2 the Maggi and adding more herbs such as garlic, ginger and curry powder

Make this in your kitchen:  http://www.kadirecipes.com/2011/11/25/grilled-fish-recipe/


Moi Moi; Courtesy of 9jafoodie

Tired of the same old black-eyed peas on your plate? Try Moi-moi. This versatile dish is popular in West Africa and since the finished product is molded to take the shape of the container it is cooked in, Moi Moi  can be made in various shapes and sizes. From loaves to cylinders, pyramids and cupcakes, it is sure to be a conversation piece on your plate.  Jollof rice makes a great accompaniment and Moi-Moi is delicious as a spread on bread.

Rev Up The Nutrition

Reduce fat and cholesterol levels by halving the eggs and shrimp.

Add vitamins and fiber by adding vegetables such as a mixture of bell peppers

 Make this in your kitchen: http://www.9jafoodie.com/2011/07/moin-moin-2/)

Jollof Rice

Jollof Rice; Courtesy of Lohi’s Creations

 There are many variations to this dish which is one of the most popular rice dishes in Africa. Some add meat and/or chicken and fish and cook it all in one pot (sometimes known as Benachin in the Senegambia area).  Others simply make it with a tomatoes and/or vegetables. , regardless of how you choose to enjoy it Jollof Rice is a  great way to spice up rice dishes and add color and pizzazz to your plate.

Rev Up the Nutrition

Use brown rice or quinoa to bulk up the fiber

Double up the veggies

Add some beans and legumes for added fiber and protein

Make this in your kitchen: http://www.lohiscreations.com/2011/09/jollof-rice-with-grilled-chicken.html



Almost every African country has a version of this dish. What differs  is the type of starch used to make it. From cornmeal (maize), cassava and plantain to cocoyam, millet and sorghum, there are various tastes to this dish. Served alone, it is quite bland so a nice stew/meat dish and/or vegetable side dish is often served alongside the staple.

Rev Up the Nutrition

Add fiber by using whole grain flour instead of the refined type

The darker the color of the flour used, the better the nutrition. therefore, choose darker flours.

Make this in your kitchen:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bJfhcy235ao



While Chakalaka is definitely a South African name, the origins of this dish are often debated amongst Africans.  Some say it is 100% South African while others proclaim that it was brought to South Africa by migrant workers from all over Africa. One this for sure is that it is a delicious, simple way to get your whole nutrition in, without meat. Can’t do without meat? Chakalaka is the perfect accompaniment to any grilled meat dish.

Rev Up the Nutrition

Add more of your favorite veggies to the mix

Decrease sodium content by boiling your own beans instead of using the canned type

Pop in an extra peri-peri pepper for an instant increase in capascium- a substance demonstrated to have heart health properties.

Make this in your kitchen: (Follow the link) https://theafricanpotnutrition.com/2011/07/01/chakalaka-the-perfect-accompaniment-to-nyama-chomabraaibbq/


Biltong Stew

Biltong Stew; Courtesy of My Burnt Orange

It is hard to determine which is the star of this dish, Biltong or peanut butter. Needless to say it is a delicious dish best served with a traditional starch such as sadza/fufu/pap/isitshwala etc. Biltong is cured meat which is almost similar to American Beef Jerky. It however differs from jerky in that it is thicker and not as sweet. Stewing Chicken (road runner) can be used as a substitute for biltong. Vegetarians will delight in knowing that this dish is just as delicious with a wide mix of vegetables (just skip the meat).

Rev Up The Nutrition

Trim all visible fat from biltong prior to adding to stew

Use “game” biltong which tends to be leaner than its beef counterpart

Use reduced fat peanut butter

Make this in your kitchen: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ukPIgtBG5zI&feature=BFa&list=PLF3DA679CA2FE5772

What’s your favorite African dish?

(Many thanks to the following food bloggers for their contributions: Lohi’s Creations (www.lohiscreations.com), 9jafoodie (Modern African Cuisine) (www.9jafoodie.com), My Burnt Orange: (www.myburntorange.com) and Kadi’s Recipes (www.kadirecipes.com). Please follow their blogs and face book pages for more delicious African recipes).

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Categories: African Food, Uncategorized, What's Cooking?

Author:Cordialis Chipo

Cordialis is a Registered Dietitian (R.D) and a pioneer in the discussion of modern day healthy lifestyles in Africa. She is the founder of The African Pot Nutrition - a nutrition consultancy that improves the health of African people through sustainable diet and lifestyle programs. Follow her on twitter @africadietitian or on Facebook (The African Pot Nutrition.

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16 Comments on “8 African Dishes You Have To Try (and recipes to help you along)….”

  1. June 24, 2012 at 10:58 am #

    Great stuff Chie! Thanks for sharing my recipe. Now I have many other African recipes to follow. I have wanted to make egusi soup or stew for the longest time, known in Ghana as agushi.


  2. June 24, 2012 at 11:41 pm #

    Excellent post!


  3. June 25, 2012 at 7:57 am #

    Thank you Chipo. love it


  4. lohi
    June 25, 2012 at 9:09 pm #

    This was really well done thank you~


  5. Leonel Roell
    July 1, 2012 at 3:46 am #

    I am a vegetarian and for me personally this made my health much better. I dont want to go back ingesting those meat with lots of unhealthy fats that clogs your arteries.


  6. July 5, 2012 at 2:33 pm #

    Nice post!


  7. July 20, 2012 at 5:08 am #

    nice stuff. really like the advise about using low fat coconut milk and brown rice in making coconut rice. Its good to eat right. Not a chef but will like to try the chakala the south African dish one day…


    • July 22, 2012 at 2:44 am #

      Thank you for visiting. Please let us know how your dishes turn out. BTW, love your blog….


  8. Angela
    April 7, 2013 at 3:43 am #

    I’ve been searching for years for authentic African recipes and now, thanks to you, I have them. Thank you so much for doing this…you are truly gifted!


    • April 7, 2013 at 4:54 am #

      Thank you Angela. Pls let me know how your dishes turn out.


  9. Joella
    May 25, 2013 at 11:52 am #

    hello, where can i find your chicken and plantains ingredients??🙂


    • May 25, 2013 at 6:46 pm #

      Any market should supply most of the ingredients. If not, try a shop that specializes in African food


  10. brown
    May 31, 2013 at 11:05 am #

    Amazing post,this is an outstanding piece of work,check other amazing African recipe dishes in our books at http://www.booksfromus.co.ke/ that i’m sure you will love making.



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