Traveling to different places is a great experience, but sometimes, local dishes can get overwhelming.
You know, experiencing local cuisine comes with exploring the world, but you can’t help but be wary. You’re in Central Africa, everything is foreign. There are different things to try — with almost all of them unfamiliar to you. You often wonder what the dishes are made out of or how they are cooked.
This blog will help walk you through discovering the culture of the local Central African food. You will learn about their history and all the most famous dishes in their countries. But first, how about some cool facts?
WHERE IT ALL STARTED
The earliest evidence of cooking with fire was found inside a cave in Africa through ashes that are claimed to be dated one million years ago. Since they practically invented barbecue, it’s not a surprise that barbecuing meat like goats and chicken is still in their culture and is practiced until today.
Central African cuisine is diverse as they come from different traditions and culture. Along with that, their cuisine is also influenced by Portuguese and the Swahilis, a culture that is a combination of Yemeni, Bantu, Omani, and Indian. Until today, these influences are found in traditional dishes like pilaf rice, mandanzi, and sambsusa.
CENTRAL AFRICA’S MOST FAMOUS DISHES
The Africans believe that food is a form of celebration. The quantity of the food on the table isn’t important as the experience itself is what matters. Their dishes are made with strong flavors with vibrant colors that make them stand out to other nation’s cuisines.
The staple food in every household in Central Africa consists of starches like cassava (also known as tapioca), potatoes, yams, and plantains. Their meat dishes (often goat and chicken) are often marinated and skewered, with heavy sauces made with peanuts. One of the famous dishes here is called fufu, made from fermented cassava that is used for barbecue garnishes.
Game meat such as crocodiles, antelope, and warthogs are often served on some occasions, though this is rare.
Here are other famous Central African dishes!
The Cameroon cuisine is one of the most influenced and varied in Central Africa because of its location. They are most popular for their Koki or bean cake. It’s made from grounded black-eyed peas that are wrapped in banana leaves, then steamed. Kokis are great for appetizers because of their pudding-like texture, and you can also partner them with boiled plantains or with barbecues.
Dinners are usually the Chadians main meal of the day. Large communal plates are served on the ground or on a mat with people sitting around it, often, men and women eating in separate areas.
One of their traditional dishes is called daraba — a dish prepared from tomatoes, okra, sweet potatoes, peanut sauce or paste, and other ingredients. You will also notice that teas are often consumed with meals in Chad as they are the most common beverage in this country.
DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO FOOD
The Congolese cuisine represents the food of the indigenous people. Their usual meals consist of a starchy ingredient (often fufu), with side dishes made of vegetables, and meat stews. They are famous for their Ngai ngai ya musaka — a dish made from the pericarp of palm nuts, and moamba — a sauce made from peanut butter.
You may often sight some Nganda restaurants in some locations, which are often owned by unmarried women in this country. These are restaurants that are somewhat in between a bar and a restaurant. They serve meals from different social classes, from miners to government officials.
Gabonese cuisine, along with its specialty dishes, is strongly influenced by the French. Their national dish called Poulet Nyembwe is made from spiced chicken cooked in nyembwe sauce. This sauce consists of the ripe red fruit that surrounds the seeds of the African oil palms. This dish is best paired with fufu or rice. The berbere sauce made from peppers is often paired with their meals as well.
The people in Gabon love meat. They are not afraid to try the different kinds, including bush meats like antelope, wild boar, monkeys, and even pangolins. These are often eaten when other meats are scarce. It’s a local joke that crocodiles are the ones running away from the Gabonese as they are scared of being turned into a dish. So if you’re coming to Gabon and you’re wary about your type of meat, it’s best to always ask first!
CENTRAL EQUATORIAL GUINEA FOOD
The cuisine in Equatorial Guinea is a blend of influences that include the Spanish and Islamic states such as Morocco. Their most famous dish is called succotash, a special dish made from sweet corn, lima beans, potatoes, corned beef, salted pork, peppers, and okra. If you are coming to Equatorial Guinea, this protein-rich dish is a must-try.
Similar to Gabon, poulet nyembwe is also one of their best African dishes. They often pair this with plantains or yam puree.
CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC FOOD
In Bangui, the capital city of the Central African Republic, you can find a lot of western hotels and restaurants offering international dishes. Similar to Gabon, this country is also influenced by French cuisine. Roadside delicacies include makara — a type of bread, baked goods, and barbecued meats. Forest items are also sold like caterpillars and koko leaf.
If you find yourself in Central Africa, don’t worry! If you’re the adventurous type, then you’ll definitely have a great time trying out different dishes with varied ingredients. If you’re not, there are still many safe options for you, especially in Bangui!
Do you have other suggestions for other dishes to try? Comment them down below!