Street Food Around the World: Africa
Your guide to authentic African street food cuisine.
by Shen Mascariñas | September 09, 2015
African cuisine is the ingenious product of international influences and the discipline of countless African working classes to be efficient with food cost and nutrition. This is good news for tourists dying to try African food; looks like you can look forward to food that’s full of diverse flavors, (mostly) healthy and affordable!
With 57 countries and 1000 languages, expect to find distinct delicacies from different parts of the continent. In North Africa, food is deeply influenced by Mediterranean, Spanish and Arabic cuisine. In Central Africa, you’ll find Portuguese, French, Spanish and British persuasions. As for South Africa’s “rainbow cuisine,” expect to taste Indian, Chinese, Malay and Western-European incorporated with African food.
Can’t imagine how these cuisines blend to create unique African delicacies? Take a look at street food from all over Africa to get a clearer picture.
The Gatsby, Cape Town
This is a sandwich so lavish that Cape Town locals associated it with a mysterious millionaire. It’s lavish in the sense that one Gastby could feed a family of four, being that it’s generously packed with fillings, but not at all in the sense that it’s extremely expensive. The Gatsby has been around since the 1970s. It started off as a simple baguette stuffed with crispy french fries. Over the years, toppings like cheese, masala steak and calamari have been generously added.
Coming from a barbecue-loving nation, Pinoys must try Nigeria’s version. Beef, chicken, fish or offal are marinated in a concoction of peanuts, paprika, onion powder and ginger before being beautifully charred over a grill.
Bobotle, South Africa
Bobotle is South Africa’s national dish, and it’s an easy new comfort food for tourists. It’s composed of minced beef and dried fruits, usually flavored with curry, nutmeg and allspice. This concoction is topped with an eggy custard then baked until gooey and golden brown on top. This is typically eaten with turmeric rice, so Pinoys will feel at home with this version of the beloved ulam-kanin combo.
Fried Mopani Worms, Zimbabwe
After trying something close to your comfort zone, how about sampling something that will test your bravery? This crispy treat is cooked with chilies, tomatoes, peanuts and onions. Locals also love this dish for its nutritional value, being high in calcium, iron and protein.
This velvety soup, primarily made from beans, is a breakfast staple in Morocco. Chicken stock, onions, garlic, paprika and cumin are cooked with a broad range of beans, then blended and topped with olive oil and more parika.
The name rolex is derived from Ugandans’ pronunciation of “roll of eggs.” Rolex is a favorite local snack thanks to its affordability and versatility. Essentially, it is a Swahili chapatti filled with scrambled eggs, shredded cabbage, tomatoes and onions. It’s Uganda’s version of a crepe or a burrito, and makes us incredibly jealous of those who’ve gotten to try it.
Poulet Yassa, Senegal
This is a chicken dish that’s fall-off-the-bone tender and bursting with flavor. It’s marinated overnight in peanut oil, lemon juice, spices, vinegar and an almost absurd amount of onion, then cooked over a charcoal fire, which is what helps bring out that depth of flavor. Poulet Yassa is traditionally paired with couscous or roasted plantains.
Ethiopian Coffee, Ethiopia
In Ethiopia, coffee is not just a beverage you get from a vendo machine, a packet, or a multinational joint. Coffee is a ceremony–a social one that allows people to get together to discuss politics and current events. Ethiopian coffee beans are freshly roasted then ground, brewed in a jebena (ceramic pot) and then finely strained. Locals serve their coffee in small china cups, together with copious amounts of sugar and side snacks of popcorn, peanuts or cooked barley.
Bunny Chow, South Africa
This scrumptious snack has proven widely popular with tourists–so much so that there’s even a restaurant in London that specializes on Bunny Chow. Who thought of hollowing out a loaf of bread then filling it with spicy meat or vegetable curry? Whoever you are, thank you.
Kalewele is a simple snack or siding of golden brown plantains, seasoned with cayenne peppers, ginger and salt. It’s crispy on the outside, soft and juicy on the inside and flavorful all over; a definite change of pace from those tired old french fries.
Mofo Gasy, Madagascar
No, mofo gasy is not an African version of takoyaki. This dish is sweet breakfast bread made from rice flour, yeast, condensed milk and vanilla. It’s slowly cooked over a charcoal grill and traditionally eaten with coffee to ensure a stellar start to your day.
Baklava is a given tourist pleaser, but Morocco also has other sweet offerings that could be your next favorites. One of which is Chebakia, a sesame-sprinkled rose-shaped cookie. It’s a Moroccan pastry that’s fried then coated with rosewater, honey and sesame seeds. This is traditionally eaten during Ramadan.
Share your street food finds with us in the comments!