With over 50 countries to choose from, Africa offers a diverse array of mouthwatering and unique dishes that are sure to tantalize you. But African street food is more than just delicious—it’s a reflection of the continent’s rich history and diverse cultural influences. These flavorful dishes have been influenced by African, Latin American, European, and Asian culinary traditions. Sampling street food is one of the best and most authentic ways to experience the culture and people of a country. And the best part? It’s usually affordable, with street food like Senegal’s Accara costing less than a dollar!
Suya is a mouthwatering Nigerian dish is thought to have originated among the Hausa people. Thin slices of juicy beef or chicken are seasoned and then grilled over open charcoal grills. But the dry spice blend is what makes it so unique. Known as suya or yaji, this blend combines ground peanuts and red peppers that add a smoky, nutty flavor to the meat. Depending on the region, additional ingredients can be incorporated, giving each suya its own distinct flavor profile. In Nigeria, suya skewers are sold individually, making it the perfect on-the-go snack that’s quick, cheap, and nutritious. For those who prefer to sit down and enjoy their meal, suya is often served in restaurants with sliced onions and tomatoes as a refreshing and flavorful accompaniment.
Attiéké is made from fermented and ground cassava roots that are transformed into fluffy, flavorful couscous. And it’s not just for dinner—Attiéké is a versatile dish that can be enjoyed for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Attiéké typically comes accompanied by a vibrant mix of thinly sliced onions and ripe tomatoes, along with either tender grilled chicken or crunchy fried fish to enhance the protein content. The fragrance of Attiéké fills the air in local markets throughout Ivory Coast, offering the option to purchase it in single servings or larger bags to take home. Whether you desire a substantial meal or a delightful snack, Attiéké is the ideal selection to appease your hunger and transport your taste buds to the lively avenues of Ivory Coast.
Brik is a delicacy popular North African that’s famous for its crispy, flaky exterior and delicious savory fillings. Traditionally, brik is made using malsouqa dough, but these days, most people opt for the more readily available phyllo pastry. The pastry is carefully laminated to create a crunchy, layered texture that perfectly complements the savory stuffing inside. A Brik can be stuffed with an array of fillings. Still, the most favored one is a tuna-based mix, enhanced with the classic tastes of North African cuisine, such as cilantro, chili, pepper, and coriander seeds. For an added touch of indulgence, a raw egg is frequently positioned atop the tuna filling before the dough is skillfully folded and then either deep-fried or oven-baked. During cooking, the egg undergoes partial cooking within the crispy pastry, resulting in a sumptuous and delectable taste.
This tasty blend of rice, pasta, and lentils has rich, complex flavors and a satisfying texture. The name Kushari comes from the Hindu word khichri, a traditional dish made with rice and lentils, but this hearty meal has become a true icon of Egyptian cuisine. One of the best ways to experience Kushari is from a street vendor, where it’s served fresh on big, shiny metal platters. The dish typically features small yellow lentils and rice that are slowly simmered in a rich, flavorful stock, with crunchy fried vermicelli and buttery browned onions.
5. Kebda Eskandarani
This dish features succulent beef liver fried to perfection and seasoned with a fiery blend of cumin, garlic, cardamom, and chili peppers. One of the best things about Kebda Eskandarani is its versatility. You can enjoy it in a hearty sandwich with a creamy tahini dip, or on its own with a side of warm rice, zesty lime wedges, or fluffy pita bread. If you’re ever in Alexandria, be sure to seek out one of the many street food carts or fast food shops serving up this delectable dish.
6. Nyama Choma
Get ready to tantalize your taste buds with Kenya’s unofficial national dish—Nyama Choma! It’s a mouth-watering barbecued meat delicacy, which translates to “grilled meat”. Served up and down the country, Nyama Choma is typically made using succulent goat or beef that’s been slow-roasted to perfection. To complete the meal, locals often pair it with some local beer and sides like the staple Ugali.
Shawarma is a Middle Eastern dish that has become popular all around the world. It typically consists of marinated meat (chicken, lamb, or beef) that is stacked on a spit and slowly roasted to juicy perfection. The meat is then thinly sliced and wrapped in a soft pita bread with vegetables such as tomatoes, lettuce, onions, and sauces like hummus, tahini, or garlic sauce. Shawarma is a delicious and convenient meal that you can enjoy on the go or sit down to savor every bite.
Imagine a traditional baladi bread stuffed to the brim with a scrumptious mix of minced meat, veggies, and aromatic spices. The ample meat filling is seasoned generously. Once baked within the bread dough, it produces a flavorful experience that will leave you drooling. You’ll recognize its readiness when the bread attains a crunchy, golden texture that is both airy and gratifying. And to make this treat even better, it’s usually served alongside fresh veggies, salads, and mouthwatering dips.
These delicious flatbreads, characterized by their savory and flaky nature, offer a genuine treat for your palate. They are made using semolina; these thick crepe-style breads are generously packed with a delicious blend of sugary caramelized onions and zesty tomatoes, resulting in a harmonious interplay of delightful tastes. And if you want to spice things up, you can add some Harissa sauce on the side for an extra kick. This Algerian delicacy is a must-try for anyone who loves hearty and delicious food. So, whether you’re strolling through the bustling streets of Algiers or trying it at home, you’re sure to enjoy every bite of Mahjouba!
10. Forodhani and Dafu
One of the most beloved street foods in Zanzibar is the Forodhani, lovingly nicknamed the ‘Zanzibar pizza’. Imagine a mouthwatering mixture of veggies, egg, and mayo (plus meat if you prefer) all wrapped up in thin dough and fried to crispy perfection. You can find it at night market stalls throughout Stone Town. If you’re looking for a refreshing snack, try a young coconut known locally as Dafu. Not only are they delicious, but they also boast numerous health benefits, like curing sunstroke and fighting dehydration. Keep an eye out for the ubiquitous salesmen peddling these tropical treats on their bicycles all over the island.
One of the most popular snacks in Senegal is Accara, a crispy black-eyed bean fritter that will make your mouth water. This mouthwatering dish is typically served with a tangy tomato-and-onion-based hot sauce called kaani, which perfectly complements the crispy texture of the fritter. If you’re a foodie, you may recognize the similarities between Accara and the Brazilian acarajé fritter. Both dishes feature the same crispy fritter base, but Senegalese Accara has its own unique twist. It’s often served on a crusty baguette with an oniony sauce that adds an extra layer of flavor to this already delicious snack.
Akara, a beloved Nigerian snack, consists of deep-fried bean cakes made from finely ground beans mixed with onions, peppers, and an array of spices. These protein-rich delights are renowned for their lightness and nutritional value. They pair perfectly with Agege bread, famous for its soft, fluffy texture, and ability to complement a variety of dishes, including stews. The traditional method of making Akara involves blending peeled brown beans with spices and onions, then deep-frying the mixture in vegetable or canola oil.
From suya in Nigeria to Attiéké in Ivory Coast, we’ve covered a range of delicious and unique dishes. African street food is not only mouthwatering but also a reflection of the continent’s rich cultural history and culinary traditions. So, if you’re looking to explore new flavors and cultures, be sure to add African street food to your culinary bucket list.
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