African staple foods are as diverse as the unique cultures and traditions present in the African continent. While the ingredients are relatively similar, the diversity of African cuisine largely lies in the style and technique of preparation. Due to their wide availability, most of these foods have become the backbone of meal times for most African families. Here are seven of the most popular African staple foods.
Also known as Nsima or Sadza, Ugali is a common dish in many parts of Africa, especially in East Africa, the Great Lakes Region, and Southern Africa. It’s usually made of maize flour (cornmeal), although in some parts of Africa it is made of either millet or sorghum flour. You simply boil water, add maize flour, and stir to a dough-like consistency.
Very popular across vWest Africa, fufu is a special meal made up of a mixture of different flavours, including cassava, cornmeal, plantains, yam, and/or semolina. Some people boil the starchy foods whole and then mash them into a dumpling-like consistency, while others use flours made from one or more of these ingredients. Swallowed instead of chewed, fufu is served with mostly groundnut or palm-nut soup.
Very common in West Africa, garri is made of pounded, fermented cassava roots. It is very rich in carbohydrates. Garri is cooked by soaking it in hot water and kneading it into dough. It can be served with a variety of foods such as beef stew, beans, and vegetable stew.
Matoke is the staple food in Uganda, but it is also consumed in other parts of Africa. Made of starchy banana, also referred to as cooking banana, the fruit is peeled with a knife and steam-cooked while green. It is then mashed into a delicious meal or cut into small pieces and deep-fried.
Also spelled “enjera”, this sourdough-risen, slightly spongy flatbread is a commonly eaten with stews and other dishes in Ethiopia, Somalia, and Eritrea.
Traditionally, injera was made of teff flour. Due to the rising cost of teff, however, many Ethiopians and Eritreans are replacing it with rice, wheat, and corn.