Ten African Foods Every North American Should Try


African food has come a long way in the last decade or so. With an increasing number of chefs and home cooks embracing African cuisines, more people are trying dishes like Ugali (Kenyan cornmeal porridge), Fufu (West African cassava/cassava dough), and other traditional foods from across the continent. If you’ve never tried African cuisine before, don’t worry! There’s no need to travel thousands of miles just to try some authentic recipes from countries like Kenya or Nigeria—there are plenty here at home. So if you’re feeling adventurous or just want to try something new for dinner tonight, here are five African meals every North American should sample:


Ackee is a fruit that comes from the ackee tree, which is native to West Africa. The fruit has been used as a food source for thousands of years. It’s also been used medicinally and in religious ceremonies by many different people groups across the continent.

Ackee is part of the Sapindaceae family and is related to lychee and longan fruits (which you may recognize from your favorite Asian restaurant). It’s considered a tropical fruit because it grows best between 68-78 degrees Fahrenheit with lots of sunlight but can tolerate temperatures up to 100 degrees Fahrenheit without much damage done to its growth cycle or taste quality!

In Jamaica, ackee is usually served with saltfish or codfish–a popular dish known as Ackee & Saltfish.


Fufu is a staple food in West Africa, and it’s often served at special occasions. It’s made from cassava, plantain, yam or cocoyam–a starchy root vegetable similar to potatoes. The starchiness of these foods results in a thick paste that can be eaten with a variety of sauces and stews (like peanut butter).

Fufu is not just for special occasions! You can make it at home using basic ingredients like flour or cornmeal as well as some water and salt. Once you have your fufu mixture ready, cook it according to the instructions below:


Ugali is a staple food in Kenya, Tanzania and other African countries. It’s made from corn flour and eaten with beans or stew. Ugali can be a porridge or stiff dough that sticks to your ribs–it’s up to you!

  • A note on pronunciation: Ugali is pronounced OH-GAH-LEE.


  • Injera

The first dish in your culinary journey to Africa should be injera. It’s a flatbread made from teff flour, which is gluten-free and high in protein. Injera tastes like sourdough bread that has been left out for a few days and then soaked in water overnight; it’s slightly tangy and it has a spongy texture that makes it great for soaking up sauce. You’ll find injera served at Ethiopian restaurants or on the streets of Ethiopia itself–just ask around until you find one!

  • How To Eat It: The best way to eat injera is by tearing off pieces of it with your hands instead of using utensils (although if you’re feeling fancy, go ahead). First tear off some pieces of your flatbread and put them on top of whatever dish they serve with their meals–usually collard greens cooked with onions or lentils cooked into various sauces such as berbere (a spicy mix made with ginger root), awaze tsebhi (tomato paste), misir mitmita (red pepper powder)


Ougoumoyo is a traditional African dish made from cassava, or manioc root. The process of making it involves boiling the cassava in water for about an hour until it softens, then mashing it into a paste with a mortar and pestle or rolling pin. This can be eaten as is or mixed with other ingredients such as peanut butter, coconut oil and sugar (or honey).

Ougoumoyo will vary depending on how you prepare it–some people add spices like cinnamon while others prefer to keep them plain–but generally speaking its flavor profile resembles that of mashed potatoes with hints of nutty sweetness from nuts like cashews or peanuts mixed in. It’s also high in calcium which makes it good for your bones!

Berbere Spice Mix

Berbere spice mix is a blend of paprika, chili pepper, fenugreek, ginger and garlic. It can be used to flavor meat and vegetables. The ingredients are cumin seeds, coriander seed powder, cardamom pods and cinnamon sticks.

Berbere spice mix is available in most grocery stores but can also be made at home by following these instructions:

  • Roast all the dry spices together until they become fragrant (about 10 minutes). Remove from heat and let cool completely before grinding into a powder using a coffee grinder or mortar & pestle.*The finished result should resemble coarse sand with no large chunks remaining.*Store in an airtight container until ready to use

Onde Onde Breads

Onde Onde breads are popular street foods in West Africa. They’re made from cassava flour and palm oil, which gives them a light brown color and an earthy flavor that’s complemented by the addition of peanut butter or other savory spices.

Onde Onde can be eaten as a snack or as a side dish with stews, soups and other main dishes. It pairs especially well with jollof rice (a Nigerian dish), plantains or sausage balls (another Nigerian favorite).

Sukuma Wiki – Kenyan Curried Greens

Sukuma Wiki is a Kenyan dish of cooked greens that can be served as a side or main dish. It has a spicy kick, thanks to the addition of curry powder and chili peppers. The name translates to “push the week,” which refers to its use as an economical way to stretch out food supplies throughout the week.

Succulent leaves from collard plants (also known as kale), mustard greens, spinach or Swiss chard are used in this recipe; however any green leafy vegetable can be substituted if you don’t have access to these ingredients at your local grocery store or farmer’s market!

Sukuma wiki goes great with rice and/or chapatis (flatbreads) for lunch; try serving over steamed white rice as part of an African meal alongside other traditional dishes such as Ugali with Beef Stew & Salad With Mustard Dressing

Melons and Papayas – These fresh fruits can be found in many African countries. They are a great way to cool off on a hot afternoon.

Melons and papayas are some of the most popular fruits in Africa. They’re often sold on street corners, where you can buy them by the piece or by weight.

The sugar content of these fruits is high, so if you have diabetes or are trying to lose weight it’s best not to eat them. However, they do contain vitamins A and C which are good for your body!

The best way to eat melons is by cutting them up into cubes or slices then adding salt (or not). Papayas can be cut up into chunks as well but make sure not to peel off all of their skin because there is more vitamin C in there than anywhere else on this delicious fruit!

African food can be a fun adventure!

If you’re looking to try something new and exciting, African food is a great way to do it. It’s fun, healthy and can help you get to know the culture of your host country.

And best of all: it’s delicious!


We hope you’ve enjoyed this list of ten African foods every North American should try. If you’re looking for more ideas, check out our other blog posts about African cuisine!

Araceli Burker

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