African food is delicious, but isn’t always vegetarian friendly. Forget the sausages, spiced meats, braai, and barbecued pigs the next time you travel to the continent. There are some seriously amazing African vegetarian dishes that may just surprise you and that offer a tasty alternative to the otherwise meat-heavy fare. Whether you are a strict vegan or a devoted carnivore, here are some African vegetarian dishes you need to try.
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This article originally appeared on AFKInsider.com.
1. Koshari, Egypt
This Egyptian-style chili is an awesome blend of rice, pasta, lentils, and tomato sauce — and occasionally also some chickpeas or fried onions. Throw it all together with some garlic and hot sauce (if you dare), and dig in!
2. Shakshuka, Tunisia
Though this delicious breakfast (or really anytime dish) has its origins in Tunisia, it’s found throughout Northern Africa and the Middle East. It’s a delicious dish of poached eggs in a simmering stew of tomatoes, chili peppers, onions, and a heaping helping of spices. Yum!
3. Vegetarian Bobotie, South Africa
Just because you’re a vegetarian doesn’t mean you need to miss out on the amazing South African dish, bobotie. Just tell the chef to replace the minced meat with lentils, and add in the egg-based topping with onions, tomatoes, and delicious Cape Malay flavors.
4. Pampoenkoekies, South Africa
This Afrikaner dish, essentially pumpkin fritters, makes for a delicious dessert or can be made more savory for a side dish. The sweet-spiciness of the dish goes down well, and is a fantastic treat that can be found throughout the country.
5. Kachumbari, Kenya
For a fresh salad option, try out this tomato and onion salad – complete with chili peppers for those looking for a bit of spice. A version known as pico de gallo can also be found in Latin America, but is more often eaten as a dish in itself rather than a garnish in the African Great Lakes region. It’s a dish that can easily be made at home with simple ingredients and without having to actually cook.
6. Akara Balls, Nigeria
If you like pumpkin fritters and all things in a fritter form, try out Nigerian black-bean fritters. They are common in restaurants in Nigeria as an appetizer, or are pretty easy to make at home.
7. Kashata Na Nazi, Uganda/Tanzania
This tasty coconut candy is perfect for tea time, or really any time by itself as a sweet snack. Ground up coconuts, or kashatas are mixed with sugar and a bit of cinnamon and salt before being sliced up into little pieces of coconut heaven.
8. Bufuke, Uganda
Though it won’t win any awards for fitting in with a low calorie diet, Ugandan bufuke is a hearty blend of beans, potatoes, peanuts and really anything else you have in your kitchen. Restaurants offer varying preparations of the dish and locals often have their favorites, though even in the same restaurant the recipe can change from day to day. It’s often served with a flavorful onion sauce or a thick cream. If making it at home, sour cream will work as a good substitute.
9. Saka Saka, Democratic Republic of Congo
While cassava leaves are not necessarily tasty on their own, they are readily available in the DRC and used in many dishes. Saka Saka takes the leaves and mixes them with palm oil, onion, garlic, sweet pepper, eggplant, and tons of salt, making for a savory concoction often served with rice.
10. Kansiyé, Guinea
Though kansiyé is often made with meat, many places will substitute lentils in this rich stew that still makes for a satisfying and delicious dish. The lentils are combined with vegetables, spices, and ground peanut butter before being served over rice.
11. Nigerian Groundnut Soup, Nigeria
Often made with chicken stock, the vegetarian version is made with veggie stock and is just as tasty. It’s a combination of peanuts, collard greens (you can substitute kale as well) with the spices giving it both a refreshing flavour as well as a bit of a heat kick.
12. Molokhia, Egypt
Again, this soup is made traditionally with chicken stock, but vegetable stock can be used in its place. Molokhia leaves are similar to spinach, and are usually to be found in Middle Eastern stores as a frozen product. This dish dates back to the time of the pharaohs. Although known primarily as a soup, it is often eaten with rice and spooned over that as a sauce.
13. Foul Medames, Egypt
A firm favourite throughout Egypt, this dish is a vegetarian’s delight. It’s not only nutritious, but it is very tasty and decidedly addictive. The basic mixture is made from roughly crushing Fava beans together with lemon juice, crushed garlic, parsley and olive oil; variations include adding onion, cumin and chili. It doesn’t get much simpler than that!
14. Vegetable Couscous, Morocco
A traditional couscous is made when the semolina is cooked with the steam from the meat stew. But there are often vegetarian versions available in northern Africa, which are just as delicious. A scattering of flaked almonds and chopped coriander adds the finishing touch to a tasty and beautiful dish.
15. Tabouleh, Morocco
Common throughout North Africa and the Middle East, tabouleh salad is a refreshing dish suitable for vegetarians. Made from soaked bulgar wheat, it is garnished with a variety of differing items, such as parsley, mint, spring onions, tomato. Teem it with deep-fried falafel balls slathered in a lemony hummus sauce for a filling meal.
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