CUISINE OF AFRICA‘S ISLAND COUNTRIES

Visiting Africa’s island countries will leave you mesmerized and wanting more because of the sheer natural beauty of the islands and the warmth of the people.

You will also be treated to awesome cuisine that will enrich your understanding and experience of traditional African cuisine. Here are top dishes to have while visiting Africa’s island nations:

Comoros

The Comoros, located off Africa’s east coast in the Indian Ocean waters of the Mozambique Channel, was a French territory during the colonial period as well as a hub for traders from East Africa, Europe and the Arab world. Pre-colonial inhabitants of the islands were Arab, African and Austronesian settlers who traveled to the islands by boat.

As a result, Comorian cuisine has European, African and Arab influences, and it is heavily based on fish and a variety of spices. Staples include plantain, coconut, banana leaves, cassava and fish.

The islands’ national dish is langouste a la vanilla (lobster with vanilla sauce), which is made with fresh lobster from the ocean and vanilla, which is grown on the island. Coconut-based curries served with grilled meats and fish are also popular, as well as a bread made from coconut milk and flour called mkatra foutra.

Langouste a la vanilla from the Comoros
Langouste a la vanilla from the Comoros

For dessert, there is a wide variety of tropical fruit to choose from, including pineapple, avocado, banana, pawpaw and the local favourite, jackfruit.

Jackfruit in Comoros
Jackfruit in Comoros

Madagascar

Malagasy cuisine is as diverse as the island’s many ethnic groups from Southeast Asian, East African, Arab, Indian and European ancestry. The island was also a trading hub as early as the 10th century, attracting Arab, Portuguese and French traders.

As a result, Malagasy cuisine fuses indigenous flavours with Arab, Portuguese and French influences to create a myriad of tasty dishes.

The island’s national dish is romazava, which consists of beef, pork and chicken onions, tomatoes, spinach, crushed garlic, salt, pepper and peanut or vegetable oil. It is served with rice for either lunch or dinner. A tasty staple for dinner parties is the Madagascan meatloaf, which is made with minced beef, ground cumin and lemon.

Romazava from Madagascar
Romazava from Madagascar

Another popular dish is akoho misy sakamalao, which consists of chicken, ginger, garlic, shallots or onions, cloves, salt, pepper and peanut or vegetable oil. A popular vegetable soup is lasopy, which consists of veal or beef broth, carrots, turnips, white potatoes, scallions, string beans, tomatoes and salt. Once the ingredients have cooked through, they are blended together to create a thick soup that is eaten with crackers or freshly baked bread.

Mauritius

The island of Mauritius is located in the Indian Ocean and is well known for its beautiful beaches, lagoons and reefs.

Mauritian cuisine is known to be one of the best Creole cuisines in the world, drawing influence from native African, French, Chinese and Indian cuisines. The cuisine is best described as moreish and spicy.

Seafood and tropical fruit are staples on the island, and various meats and vegetables are included in many dishes. Rougaille is a very popular traditional dish that is served mainly at special occasions such as weddings. It consists of tomatoes, onions, chilies, garlic and spices, and is often served with curries.

Mauritian curry
Mauritian curry

Curries are considered as staple meals on the island as they are flavoursome and easy to prepare, and they can feed many people. Curries can be vegetarian (made with lentils) and they can be made with fish, chicken or meat. They are usually served with rice, roti, niouk nien (dumplings) or mine-frit (Chinese fried noodles.).

Dholl pori is a popular street food derived from Indian communities that settled on the island. It consists of fried thin bread that is filled with ground yellow split peas, and served in a pair with bean curry, atchar and chutney.

Mayotte

The island country of Mayotte is a region of France that is located between Madagascar and Mozambique in the Indian Ocean.

The country’s cuisine consists of French, Indian, African and Arabic influences, with staples including a variety of spices such as cardamom and cinnamon, as well as seafood.

A popular dish that can be considered as the country’s national dish is mbogo or mfogo, which consists of fried or baked cassava root. Another popular dish, which is also popular in São Tomé and Príncipe is fried breadfruit called bricapen. The dish is high in protein and tastes like freshly-baked bread.

Barabock, also known as kuobu, is also a popular dish on the island. It consists of fried banana.

Réunion Island

Réunion Island is a French territory that is located east of Madagascar and southwest of Mauritius in the Indian Ocean.

Réunionese cuisine reflects the diversity of cultures on the island, drawing influences from French, Indian, Chinese and Malagasy cuisine.

Carri is the island’s specialty meal that is influenced by Indian cooking. It consists of meat, poultry, fish or seafood and contains garlic, onion, tomatoes, turmeric, cloves and ginger. Carris are best eaten with boiled rice.

Reunionese carri
Reunionese carri

Brèdes, which is a dish of consisting of edible leaves from chouchou, Chinese cabbage, pumpkin or mouroom that are fried with garlic, ginger, onion and some chili peppers, are served as a side dish.

Locals enjoy a wide variety of tropical fruit to satisfy their sweet tooth. Mangoes are usually eaten while they are green with salt and chili peppers, and lychis are included on the Christmas lunch menu as dessert.

São Tomé and Príncipe

São Tomé and Príncipe is a Portuguese-speaking island nation that is located in the Gulf of Guinea, off the western equatorial coast of Central Africa.

Santomean cuisine is described as fiery and eclectic, fusing together the tastes of Portugal with those of Sub-Saharan Africa. Staple foods include seafood, maize, tropical fruit and coffee, which is used as a spice in various dishes.

The island grows cocoa, and as a result, chocolate is abundant on the island. An interesting way of eating it is shaving it on top of a banana mousse. Cachupa, which is a signature dish of Cape Verde, is also a favourite on the island. The dish consists of mashed maize, onions, green bananas, manioc, sweet potatoes, squash, yams, tomatoes and cabbage. It is seasoned with bay leaves, garlic and pimento, and bacon can be added to it.

Traditional Santomean dishes include barriga de peixe, which consists of grilled fish served, rice, breadfruit or cassava, and arroz doce, which is a traditional breakfast meal consisting of sweet corn and coconut.

Barriga De Peixe from Sao Tome E Principe
Barriga De Peixe from Sao Tome E Principe

The island’s specialty is bobofrito, which is a snack made with ripe bananas fried in coconut oil. Coconuts, which are abundant on the island, are made into treats where they are fried or sweetened to be eaten as candy.

Seychelles

The beautiful islands of the Seychelles are located in the Indian Ocean just off of East Africa. Seychellois cuisine is diverse and tasty, drawing influence from African, British, French, Indian and Chinese cuisines.

Staples include seafood, cassava, tropical fruit and a range of spices. Curries are widely eaten by locals as they are both delicious and easy to make. Fish and chicken curry are the island’s most popular curries.

Seychellois cuisine is spoilt for choice with a range of fish, from crab to octopus and many other tropical fish. Dishes are usually served with plain, spiced or saffron-flavoured long-grain white rice, sliced white bread or garlic bread. Meals are accompanied by a chutney called chatini, which consists of marinated cooked or raw vegetables or fruit such as eggplant, mango or pumpkin.

Tropical fruit, such as mangoes and pawpaw, are eaten throughout the day, and homemade jam is made using starfruits, bananas and pineapples.

Some delicious starfruit
Some delicious starfruit

You will definitely enjoy the warmth of the sun, the beautiful beaches and the awesome cuisine when you visit these island nations 🙂

*images from Saveur, Creative Commons, World Cup of Food, Getaway, Indian Ocean, Bolinho De Coco, and Pinterest .

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