Most popular African staple foods


Africa has over 1.2 billion people derived from thousands of ethnic groups, each with its unique culture and cuisine.

Anywhere you stop across the diverse African landscapes, ask for the local delicacy and you are sure to get something different from where you came from.

The local eating or dining establishments are preening with patriotic fervor as the link between the lush green fertile soils that nourish and sustain the powerful physique of the people becomes evident. Here are seven popular African staple foods.


Ethiopian food is delicious, distinct and befits a geographically unique country with a rich history spanning thousands of years. As the country opens up to the world, its cuisine remains one of their best-kept secrets. Injera forms the foundation of most Ethiopian meals. A first-timer will describe it as a soft, spongey, grey pancake-like bread. Served on its surface are different types of foods from spicy stews, vegetable curries to meat stews. Known for their communal eating culture, everyone huddles around a large circular tray of Injera and a flurry of other delicacies. To enjoy it as the locals do, the meal is eaten without cutlery. The sight of hands going back and forth scooping up portions while ripping sections of the Injera is impressive. Injera comes from tef, a tiny grain, which has been grown in the country for millennia. As a regional delicacy, it can also be found in Somalia and Eritrea.


Ugali is a highly popular dish in Eastern Africa, the Great Lakes region and Southern Africa. Derived from maize flour (cornmeal) it also has millet and sorghum versions that were used back in the day. Some describe cooking ugali to be an artistic process as the only complexity lies in the timing. Water is boiled, after which dough is added on and stirred to a dough-like make. Once ready, ugali goes with green vegetables, diced meat or chicken stews. In some places, it is consumed directly when warm with a glass of cold milk.


This highly popular West African staple is nothing more than pounded and fermented cassava roots. It is made through a process that mimics it’s East African version ugali. Garri is first soaked in hot boiling water, then kneaded till it transforms into a dough-like manner. When ready it is served with either beef stew, beans or vegetable stew. 


Also referred to as green bananas, matoke are the staple food in Uganda and other neighboring countries. Matoke can be described as starchy bananas or cooking bananas. The fruit is prepared by a knife then steam-cooked. The fruit will then be mashed into a tasty meal after then it’s chopped and deep-fried.


As a very popular west African dish, fufu is a unique mix of cornmeal, yams, cassava, semolina, and cornmeal. There are those who prefer to boil their fufu then mash it into a form that appears as dumplings. Others would rather use the flour derived from its ingredients. Unlike food that is chewed, fufu is swallowed. Expect it to be served alongside palm-nut soup or groundnuts.


Many residents in the Northern part of Africa can relate to couscous. The dish comprises of steamed semolina balls comprising of dried durum wheat sprinkled with water then rolled into pellets. The mixture is then gently steamed over a boiling pot of meat or vegetable stew so the couscous can absorb the cooking flavors.


Feijoada is a delicious stew made of beans, pork, and beef. The recipe has been modified or adjusted over the ages so it might have different ingredients depending on where you reside. Some add vegetables such as tomatoes, onions, carrots or cabbages. All ingredients are assembled together, thrown into a pot and left to cook. What was once a Portuguese dish, has now become a mainstream African staple up North.