Home / Africa Blog / Traditional Cuisine in East Africa

Traditional Cuisine in East Africa

What makes South African food so unique is the large variety of different flavours and kinds of food that you find in Africa. This is due to the diverse cultures and customs that the nation is so well known for. There is such a big difference between the food that you find in East Africa, Central Africa, Southern Africa and North Africa. Here we shall take a look at Traditional Cuisine in East Africa.

East African Cuisine

Culture plays a large part on the type of cuisine eaten here. Due to cattle, sheep and goats being regarded as a form of income and wealth, meat is generally not consumed. However, milk and the blood of cattle is. Farmers grow grains and vegetables. Maize is a staple and is the basis of ugali (a type of corn) which is enjoyed in stews. An unusual dish of steamed green bananas called matoke is used to bulk up various meals.


When the Arabs settled in East Africa about 1000 years ago they introduced Swahili cuisine which included steamed rice with Persian spices such as saffron, cloves and cinnamon. Centuries afterwards there was British and Indian influence where vegetable curries were introduced to spice up the rather bland dishes. A variety of pickles and chapattis (unleavened bread simply made with wheat flour, water and salt) were also incorporated. Chapattis are filled with a variety of delicious fillings, wrapped or rolled up and eaten with the hands. It is also great for mopping up juices from curries or stews. Recipe for chapattis: About.com

When the Portuguese arrived from Asia they introduced fruit to the country such as oranges, lemons, limes, tomatoes and pineapples. Chillies and peppers were also brought in, adding more flavour and spiciness to the food. A few interesting dishes which you can try out when you have access to these wonderful ingredients when on safari are:

Congo Tofu: tomato paste, peanut butter, onion, garlic and tofu

Doro Wat: whole chicken, stewed in a variety of Ethiopian flavours

Ethiopian Cabbage dish: A simple, but tasty and satisfying dish made with potatoes, cabbage, onion and carrots

Green banana fries: Made from unripe bananas, cut into thin wedges and fried in a deep fryer

Mombasa Pumpkin dessert: A rich, creamy dessert made with pumpkin, coconut milk, sugar and cardamom

Click on this link to make these dishes.

Photograph courtesy of East African Cafe

Get a taste for local flavors on these African Tours

  • Tour Length 22 days
    Group Size Max 20
    Starts & Ends Starts: Livingstone Ends: Nairobi
    Countries Zambia, Malawi, Tanzania, Kenya
    Overview Three weeks, five countries, one adventure. This thrilling overland tour is your ticket to Africa’s most spectacular highlights. Feeling the heart-pounding thunder of Victoria Falls, the greatness of Lake Malawi, and the suspense of a nocturnal safari in the Serengeti, are all part of the itinerary. Top it off with three days of horizontal me-time on the paradise beaches of Zanzibar and now you’re really living.

    Price from

    R64,750

    View Tour Check Availability

    Livingstone to Nairobi Overland (Camping) (22 Days)

    Tour start → end dates Price Enquire
    28 Jun 2024 → 19 Jul 2024

    From

    R64750
    Check Availability
    12 Jul 2024 → 02 Aug 2024

    From

    R64750
    Check Availability
    26 Jul 2024 → 16 Aug 2024

    From

    R64750
    Check Availability
    09 Aug 2024 → 30 Aug 2024

    From

    R64750
    Check Availability
    23 Aug 2024 → 13 Sep 2024

    From

    R64750
    Check Availability
    06 Sep 2024 → 27 Sep 2024

    From

    R64750
    Check Availability
    20 Sep 2024 → 11 Oct 2024

    From

    R64750
    Check Availability
    04 Oct 2024 → 25 Oct 2024

    From

    R64750
    Check Availability
    18 Oct 2024 → 08 Nov 2024

    From

    R64750
    Check Availability
    01 Nov 2024 → 22 Nov 2024

    From

    R64750
    Check Availability
    15 Nov 2024 → 06 Dec 2024

    From

    R64750
    Check Availability
    29 Nov 2024 → 20 Dec 2024

    From

    R64750
    Check Availability
    13 Dec 2024 → 03 Jan 2025

    From

    R64750
    Check Availability
    27 Dec 2024 → 17 Jan 2025

    From

    R64750
    Check Availability
    10 Jan 2025 → 31 Jan 2025

    From

    R72520
    Check Availability
    24 Jan 2025 → 14 Feb 2025

    From

    R72520
    Check Availability
    07 Feb 2025 → 28 Feb 2025

    From

    R72520
    Check Availability
    21 Feb 2025 → 14 Mar 2025

    From

    R72520
    Check Availability
    07 Mar 2025 → 28 Mar 2025

    From

    R72520
    Check Availability
    21 Mar 2025 → 11 Apr 2025

    From

    R72520
    Check Availability
    04 Apr 2025 → 25 Apr 2025

    From

    R72520
    Check Availability
    18 Apr 2025 → 09 May 2025

    From

    R72520
    Check Availability
    02 May 2025 → 23 May 2025

    From

    R72520
    Check Availability
    16 May 2025 → 06 Jun 2025

    From

    R72520
    Check Availability
    30 May 2025 → 20 Jun 2025

    From

    R72520
    Check Availability
    13 Jun 2025 → 04 Jul 2025

    From

    R72520
    Check Availability
    27 Jun 2025 → 18 Jul 2025

    From

    R72520
    Check Availability
    11 Jul 2025 → 01 Aug 2025

    From

    R72520
    Check Availability
    25 Jul 2025 → 15 Aug 2025

    From

    R72520
    Check Availability
    08 Aug 2025 → 29 Aug 2025

    From

    R72520
    Check Availability
    22 Aug 2025 → 12 Sep 2025

    From

    R72520
    Check Availability
    05 Sep 2025 → 26 Sep 2025

    From

    R72520
    Check Availability
    19 Sep 2025 → 10 Oct 2025

    From

    R72520
    Check Availability
    03 Oct 2025 → 24 Oct 2025

    From

    R72520
    Check Availability
    17 Oct 2025 → 07 Nov 2025

    From

    R72520
    Check Availability
    31 Oct 2025 → 21 Nov 2025

    From

    R72520
    Check Availability
    14 Nov 2025 → 05 Dec 2025

    From

    R72520
    Check Availability
    28 Nov 2025 → 19 Dec 2025

    From

    R72520
    Check Availability
    12 Dec 2025 → 02 Jan 2026

    From

    R72520
    Check Availability
    26 Dec 2025 → 16 Jan 2026

    From

    R72520
    Check Availability
  • Tour Length 13 days
    Group Size Max 16
    Starts & Ends Starts: Nairobi Ends: Dar es Salaam
    Countries Kenya, Tanzania
    Overview With showpiece attractions by the likes of the Serengeti, Ngorongoro Crater, and Mount Kilimanjaro, East Africa is story-book Africa. This whirlwind adventure sees you living out your wildest dreams with open-top game drives through vast plains and eye-opening Masaai village tours. After getting your fill of wildlife and local living, dust off your boots and soak up the African sun on the powdery-white beaches of Zanzibar. Now this is a dream come true.
    • Price Beat Guaranteed
    • 10% early bird discount (6 months or more)

    Price from

    R75,100

    View Tour Check Availability

    13 Day East Africa Game Parks and Zanzibar Safari

    Tour start → end dates Price Enquire
    11 Aug 2024 → 23 Aug 2024

    From

    R75100
    Check Availability
    08 Sep 2024 → 20 Sep 2024

    From

    R75100
    Check Availability
    22 Sep 2024 → 04 Oct 2024

    From

    R75100
    Check Availability
    06 Oct 2024 → 18 Oct 2024

    From

    R75100
    Check Availability
    20 Oct 2024 → 01 Nov 2024

    From

    R75100
    Check Availability
    03 Nov 2024 → 15 Nov 2024

    From

    R75100
    Check Availability
    17 Nov 2024 → 29 Nov 2024

    From

    R75100
    Check Availability
    01 Dec 2024 → 13 Dec 2024

    From

    R75100
    Check Availability
    15 Dec 2024 → 27 Dec 2024

    From

    R75100
    Check Availability
    29 Dec 2024 → 10 Jan 2025

    From

    R75100
    Check Availability
    12 Jan 2025 → 24 Jan 2025

    From

    R75100
    Check Availability
    26 Jan 2025 → 07 Feb 2025

    From

    R75100
    Check Availability
    09 Feb 2025 → 21 Feb 2025

    From

    R75100
    Check Availability
    23 Feb 2025 → 07 Mar 2025

    From

    R75100
    Check Availability
    09 Mar 2025 → 21 Mar 2025

    From

    R75100
    Check Availability
    23 Mar 2025 → 04 Apr 2025

    From

    R75100
    Check Availability
    06 Apr 2025 → 18 Apr 2025

    From

    R75100
    Check Availability
    20 Apr 2025 → 02 May 2025

    From

    R75100
    Check Availability
    04 May 2025 → 16 May 2025

    From

    R75100
    Check Availability
    18 May 2025 → 30 May 2025

    From

    R75100
    Check Availability
    01 Jun 2025 → 13 Jun 2025

    From

    R75100
    Check Availability
    15 Jun 2025 → 27 Jun 2025

    From

    R75100
    Check Availability
    29 Jun 2025 → 11 Jul 2025

    From

    R75100
    Check Availability
    13 Jul 2025 → 25 Jul 2025

    From

    R75100
    Check Availability
    27 Jul 2025 → 08 Aug 2025

    From

    R75100
    Check Availability
    10 Aug 2025 → 22 Aug 2025

    From

    R75100
    Check Availability
    24 Aug 2025 → 05 Sep 2025

    From

    R75100
    Check Availability
    07 Sep 2025 → 19 Sep 2025

    From

    R75100
    Check Availability
    21 Sep 2025 → 03 Oct 2025

    From

    R75100
    Check Availability
    05 Oct 2025 → 17 Oct 2025

    From

    R75100
    Check Availability
    19 Oct 2025 → 31 Oct 2025

    From

    R75100
    Check Availability
    02 Nov 2025 → 14 Nov 2025

    From

    R75100
    Check Availability
    16 Nov 2025 → 28 Nov 2025

    From

    R75100
    Check Availability
    30 Nov 2025 → 12 Dec 2025

    From

    R75100
    Check Availability
    14 Dec 2025 → 26 Dec 2025

    From

    R75100
    Check Availability
    28 Dec 2025 → 09 Jan 2026

    From

    R75100
    Check Availability

About Bronwyn Paxton

Article by: Bronwyn Paxton
on July 8, 2013
Filed under  Africa Blog • Kenya 
African Overland Tours Experts
  • First-hand experience
  • Advice and guidance
  • We're passionate travelers

Enquire Now

FEATURED POSTS

How to do a Ngorongoro Crater safari on a budget

How to do a Ngorongoro Crater safari on a budget

Tanzania’s Ngorongoro Crater is the largest unflooded and unbroken crater in the world. IT is the site of a massive once-active volcano that last erupted millions of years ago. Covering a massive...

Flexible Payment Installments

Flexible Payment Installments

We know how difficult it can be to save for you trip. We are pleased to announce that we are helping travellers by offering you the option to pay for your tour by monthly installments. Pay monthly...

0 Comments

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Next Article