Africa is renowned for its rich culture, captivating traditions and eccentric fashion. With 3000 tribes spread across 54 countries, Africa is home to a wide variety of delicacies. Just as traditions differ across tribes, each African dish is peculiar to a particular region. These popular African foods require natural home-sourced ingredients that are only found in Africa. These unique ingredients are responsible for these popular African foods’ unique taste, flavor and nutritional benefits.
A traditional African dish can only be authentic when it’s cooked with the right ingredients. This is why many Africans living in America can no longer enjoy the rich African delicacy they used to eat in their home countries in Africa. This article aims to teach you about the best African dishes you can’t find in America and how you can get the ingredients to make them yourself.
What are the Most Popular African Foods?
Most popular African foods have grains, vegetables, palm oil and root tubers as their basis. These ingredients combine through different recipes to make assorted meals. It would be almost impossible to write an exhaustive list of African dishes, but we can pick a few from each region. Below are the most popular African foods you can make yourself in America.
Jollof rice is the first meal on our list for two reasons. Firstly, it is the most popular national dish in Nigeria. Secondly, Nigeria is the most populous country in Africa. The history of Jollof rice dates back to the 14th Century Senegambian era. In those days, Senegal, Gambia and Mauritania grew rice in large quantities, so it quickly became a staple. However, Nigerians formulated a tasty way of making this popular dish.
Nigerian Jollof rice consists of parboiled rice cooked with tomato sauce. The sauce, spiced with the scotch bonnet, tatase, shombo and other assorted chili peppers, is sautéed in meat stock before adding the parboiled rice. Other main ingredients include curry powder, thyme, vegetable oil, bay leaves, seasoning powder, onion, bell pepper, ginger and garlic.
There are different recipes for Nigerian Jollof rice, but the party Jollof variant is absolutely magical! While Jollof rice serves as the main dish, you can use fried plantain as a side dish. Try it, and your taste buds will thank you.
You can find Jollof rice in all African restaurants in America, but for the best experience, look out for Nigerian restaurants. You can also get the ingredients from OjaExpress, and make the meal yourself.
Yassa is one of the most popular African cuisines from Senegal. This traditional dish is so tasty and satisfying that people from other parts of West Africa have created their version of the meal. Chicken, which is the main ingredient, is seasoned with onions, chilis and garlic and marinated in lemon and mustard. After marinating, the now richly flavored chicken is placed on a grill under low heat. Yassa can be found across the United States, from Senegalese restaurants.
Egusi soup is one of the most popular West African dishes. It is a traditional dish of Igbo origin in South East Nigeria. This national dish uses ground egusi seeds and other ingredients to bless the taste buds. It goes perfectly with ugu or bitter leaf. It also requires a generous amount of red palm oil. Some people even add some tomato paste. But that’s not traditional, though. It is one of Nigeria’s favorite dishes, and you can make it in America following simple recipes. If you don’t like to cook, you can always order this delicious stew from your local Nigerian or Ghanaian restaurant and thank us later!
Let’s be honest; Kontomire soup isn’t one of the most visibly attractive meals in the world. In fact, for most non-Ghanaians, it looks uninviting. But then, remember what they say about judging a book by its cover? This is exactly what you’re doing if you rule out Kontomire soup based on its looks, and you’re getting it all wrong. This soup is the perfect description of “looks can be deceiving.” You’d never know how delicious it is until it hits your taste buds.
Cocoyam leaves, mushrooms and snails are some of the main ingredients for making this popular dish. Ghanaian’s serve this national dish with boiled yams, plantain, boiled eggs, chunks of meat, and avocado- no wonder they call it green-green (ebunu ebunu). You can get this meal in America at Ghanaian Restaurants.
Amala and Ewedu Soup
There’s no doubt that Nigeria has many incredible meals, but Amala is more than just a meal. It is more like a religion. Yes, we dare say so because Amala is the only national dish with a series of restaurants named after it.
Amala is a brownish powder made from grinding dried yam peelings. Ewedu (Jute leaves), on the other hand, are green vegetables blended into a slimy green paste. This delicious meal is indigenous to the Yoruba tribe from South Western Nigeria. However, people from several other tribes have also become obsessed with this popular West African dish. If you live in the States and you want to give you taste buds an explosion of a lifetime, you can order this delicacy from most Nigerian restaurants local to you.
Thieboudienne is like a national treasure in Senegal and neighboring West African countries. It is also called Senegalese Jollof. It’s a single plate of food that contains assorted ingredients. While broken rice is the main ingredient, you’d need to add roasted or fresh white fish, chicken, grilled meat or any other kind of meat. Most native Senegalese use garlic parsley stuffing, netetou spice and other fresh herbs to give this dish an enticing aroma and taste. Thieboudienne is also a stable in Mali, the Gambia, Mauritania, Guinea Conakry and Guinea Bissau. Try this out, it may easily become your favorite dish. Thieboudienne is a Senegalese meal and this makes it a bit difficult to find unlike regular Jollof rice, however there are Senegalese restaurants in the States that serve this delectable dish. You can also find the ingredients by taking a look at our website.
From the heartland of Ethiopia, East Africa comes this special chicken stew called Doro Wat. It contains a reddish blend of chillis spiced with ginger, coriander, holy basil seeds, cayenne pepper and the secret ingredient, berbere spice. Before you start cooking, you must soak the chicken in a salt and lemon juice solution and cut it into chunks. Also, don’t forget to throw in some shelled boiled eggs when you notice that the stew is almost completely cooked.
This tasty meat dish goes with injera. Injera is like the main dish. It is a flatbread made with teff flour.
You will find this delicious dish on the menu of special occasions in Ethiopia. You will also find it in all Ethiopian restaurants in America. The best part is that you can buy all the main ingredients on OjaExpress, and prepare this meal yourself.
Africans have different ways of grilling meat. Nyama choma is one of them. Nyama is the Swahili word for goat. Nyama Choma is a national dish that consists of well-spiced roasted goat meat. This main dish is then served with tomato and onion made into a side dish called kachumbari. Kenyans serve this dish during special occasions and as street food in urban areas.
You can find this meat dish in East African restaurants in America, specifically Kenyan or perhaps Ugandan restaurants. You can also easily buy goat meat and other ingredients to prepare it at home with Ugali.
Most people believe that bananas should only be eaten raw, but Kenyans and other West African countries beg to differ. They have found an alternative way of eating bananas. They call it Matoke. This popular African dish contains fried bananas, tomatoes, onions and other spices made into a delicious sauce. Some people eat Matoke as a side dish, while others eat it alone. It is quite easy to prepare, and you can also get it in any East African restaurant in America.
Bobotie is indigenous to the Cape Malay tribes of South Africa. It is cooked with simple ingredients like minced lamb or beef meat, spicy black pepper, curry and fruits. A spicy and flavorful cream custard is then added as a topping, and it all comes together to create this popular dish. Traditionally, South Africans serve bobotie with yellow rice. Some other countries in Southern Africa add chutney, pickles or slices of banana as a side dish. If you have a South African restaurant near you, this is one meal you should order. South Africa has an array of dishes that will blow your mind away.
Couscous is to North Africa what Jollof rice is to West Africans. There is a wide variety of couscous in North Africa. In truth, every North African family eats this popular dish at least thrice weekly. It’s a staple in Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria and their neighboring countries. Some tribes in Central Africa and Southern Africa have also created their own variants of this meal.
Originally, this African dish is indigenous to the Berber tribe, who are now scattered around the countries mentioned above, including Libya, Egypt, Mali and the Middle East. It consists of semolina steamed over a bubbling stew.
There’s a wide variety of ways to make couscous. Tunisians prepare theirs with fish, others use grilled meat and other proteins. Spicy peppers, ground coriander, garlic and cumin are other essential ingredients.
Where to Find African Food Delicacies
Africans living in America often miss their traditional African delicacies. This is because many African restaurants are quite expensive, and their meals don’t really give the taste of home. Also, many can’t make these African cuisines at home due to the scarcity of fresh and original African ingredients.
The truth is, you can’t always wait to import egusi, efo riro, ewedu black pepper and other ingredients from Africa before you can cook your favorite African dish, and there are so many to try!
OjaExpress provides you with a quick and easy way to get all the ingredients you need to make these African delicacies. Check out our collection of original home-sourced African ingredients and pick anything you need. We provide quick and reliable delivery to any location around Chicago.