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Malian dishes are absolutely superb which shouldn’t be a surprise as Mali is one of the most beautiful countries in Africa. The country offers a blissful retreat to the tourists with its unique mélange of bizarre landscapes, beautiful artwork, spectacular mosques made entirely of mud, pink sandstone villages, and long stretches of undulating desserts, and its cuisine is just something else.
The country is definitely one you should visit and we have the perfect food guide to get your belly some new delicious cravings. But first, what is Mali all about?
Mali is a landlocked country in West Africa, formally known as the Republic of Mali. Mali is Africa’s eighth-largest country, with little over 1,240,000 square kilometers, and has a population of 19.1 million people.
The name Mali is taken from the name of the Mali Empire. The name means “the place where the king lives and carries a connotation of strength”. Well, we’re about to see how much of this strength is put into the country’s cuisine.
Mali’s official language is French, which is the result of 68 years of European colonization. Despite the fact that French is Mali’s official language, only about 5% to 10% of the population speaks it. Mali is home to a diverse range of ethnic groupings and tribes, each of which speaks a different indigenous language some of which include; Bambara, Bomu, Bozo, Dogon, Fulfulde, Hassaniya Arabic, Mamara, Maninkakan, Soninke, Songhay, Syenara, Tamasheq, Xaasongaxango.
Mali is a predominantly Muslim country with 94.84 percent of the population belonging to Islam. Of that 94.84 percent, only 0.8 percent is Shi’a versus the greater majority of Sunni Muslims in the country.
The varied everyday culture of Malians reflects the country’s ethnic and geographic diversity. Most Malians wear flowing, colorful robes called boubloveous, which are typical of West Africa. Malians frequently participate in traditional festivals, dances, and ceremonies.
The staples of Malian cuisine, which is mainly focused on cereal grains, are rice and millet. Grains are usually served with sauces produced from a variety of edible leaves, such as spinach or baobab, as well as tomato peanut sauce and grilled meat pieces (typically chicken, mutton, beef, pork, or goat). The majority of the time, loco “plantains” are consumed with tea.
The Malian cuisine differs by region. Fufu, jollof rice, and maafe are also popular foods. New ways of promoting Malian gastronomy are emerging through activities such as the “DIBI festival”. Which is a gastronomic, artistic, and cultural meeting in Bamako, which is held over 3 days with good “Dibi” and show for a pleasant moment.
Fruit juice, rather than alcohol, is the preferred drink among the country’s primarily Muslim population, and the abundance of fresh mangoes and bananas lends a sweet finish to its meals. In Mali, women make all of the meals. And the right hand is used to eat. In this predominantly Muslim country, eating with the left hand is frowned upon. Strong, sweet tea is frequently served to accompany meals. Tea service is a highly ritualized occasion in Mali, as it is in many other countries. The first round is for life, the second for love, and the third for death.
If you are planning to visit Mali soon, or just looking for a new dish to bestow your family with, here are the top Malian dishes.
Top Malian Dishes You Should Try
1. Tiguadege Na
Mali’s national meal is Tiguadege Na, which is made with lamb or chicken. Tiguadege Na literally translates to “meat in peanut butter sauce.”
This peanut butter stew has a rich texture and is really tasty. To improve the flavor of this amazing dish, large chunks of potatoes and carrots are added. Although preparing this dish takes some time, the end result is well worth the wait. Its origin lies within the Malian ethnic groups of Mandinka and Bambara, whose existence dates back to the 13th century.
This Mali dish like a lot of others has a vegetarian version, so plant-based eaters can still enjoy the deliciousness of this meal.
Although preparing this meal takes quite a lot of time, it is absolutely worth it. To prepare this Malian dish, you’ll need beef, lamb or, for the adventurous, goat, cubed, off the bone, or chicken meat in pieces or parts, oil, some cloves, pepper, and spices to taste, both fresh and paste tomatoes, chicken or vegetable broth, peanut butter, some carrots, eggplant, and potatoes.
For the vegetarian version, you’ll be needing; oil, onions, some garlic, fresh and paste tomatoes, vegetable broth, smooth peanut butter, pepper and spices to taste, black pepper, acorn squash, and cabbage.
This Malian dish is so healthy as you can see from the ingredients used.
2. Malian Jollof Rice
Malian Jollof rice is of the most cherished Malian cuisine, served often on special occasions. Rich, hearty, and filling! Jollof rice is a rice dish from West Africa. The dish is typically made with long-grain rice, grass, palava sauce, leaves, water, and banana peels in a single pot, although its ingredients and preparation methods vary across different regions.
There are several regional variations in name and ingredients, for example, in Mali it is called zaamè in Bamanankan. The dish’s most common name of Jollof derives from the name of the Wolof people, though in Senegal and Gambia the dish is referred to in Wolof as ceebu jën or benachin. In French-speaking areas, it is called riz au gras. Despite the variations, the dish is “mutually intelligible” across the regions and has become the best-known African dish outside the continent.
Jollof rice traditionally consists of rice, cooking oil, vegetables such as tomato, onion, red pepper, garlic, ginger, and scotch bonnet chili peppers. To enhance the color of the dish, tomato paste (purée) is added. As for seasoning spices, salt, seasoning/stock cubes (a blend of flavor enhancers, salt, nutmeg, and herbs), curry powder, and dried thyme are used. To complement the dish, chicken, turkey, beef, or fish are often served with the dish, but in Mali, Lamb is the preferred choice of protein.
3. La Capitaine Sangha
Another favorite Malian dish is La Capitaine Sangha. It’s made with Nile perch and comes with whole fried bananas, rice, and a spicy chili sauce on the side. The Nile perch is marinated with spices, then grilled or baked.
The name “La Capitaine Sangha” Is a brief description of the source of the dish. Sangha is a river in Africa in which the Capitaine occurs, and the Capitaine is nothing more than a Nile perch.
The Nile perch, also known as the African snook, Goliath perch, African barramundi, Goliath barramundi, Giant lates, or Victoria perch, is a freshwater fish species belonging to the Latidae family of the Perciformes order.
It is native to the Congo, Nile, Senegal, Niger, and Lake Chad, as well as the Volta, Lake Turkana, and other river basins in the Afrotropical region. It can also be found in the brackish waters of Egypt’s Lake Mariout. In East Africa, the Nile perch is an important fish for both economic and food security reasons. Nile perch has a moderate flavor and a juicy, medium-firm texture. Nile perch fillets are pinkish in color when raw, but after cooked, they turn snow-white.
Health benefits of the Nile Perch fish
The Nile perch fish has a lot of health benefits. During the production of fillets, about 50% of the total fish mass is unprocessed. Therefore the belly flaps constitute about 20% of the by-products.
- Fish oil has a number of health benefits, including improving cardiovascular (heart) health, protecting against stroke and heart attack, and lowering the risk of breast, colon, and prostate cancer.
- In addition, fish oil reduces the incidence of childhood illnesses, improves brain function and intelligence, reduces sadness and psychosis (loss of contact with reality), relieves pain, and has anti-inflammatory qualities.
- Nile Perch belly flap oil is rich in vitamins A and E and low in pesticide residues as well as toxic heavy metals including lead, cadmium, arsenic, and mercury. The low contamination levels indicate that the product is typically safe for human consumption.
- The presence of large levels of antioxidants, which protect body cells from harm, explains why Nile Perch oil may be preserved for a long time. Its storage stability indicates that commercial use would not necessitate the use of a significant amount of additives.
- The clear belly flap oil can be used to make fish oil emulsions or capsules after refining.
- Furthermore, Nile Perch belly flaps have the potential to produce fish oil commercially.
- Nile perch is the most profitable fish species in East Africa from a commercial standpoint. In the region, some 400,000 metric tonnes of Nile Perch are taken each year, with a growing proportion being processed into fillets for export, primarily to the European Union.
This Malian dish is prepared with ingredients including; the Nile perch, black pepper, soy sauce, onions, and some bananas. Red bell peppers, green chili peppers, garlic, onions, tomato pastes white, wine vinegar, sugar, and fresh tomatoes are used to prepare the chili sauce. White basmati rice is sometimes boiled and served together with the dish, depending on preference.
4. Meni-Meniyong (Malinese Sweet-Honey Sweet)
Meni-meniyong, Malinese sweet-honey sweet, is a wonderful Malinese sesame-honey sweet. It’s easy to make and is great for kids and adults alike. This Malian dish can easily be made into a freezer meal that takes only a couple of minutes to prepare.
It is made with sesame seeds, honey, and unsalted butter. The sesame seeds are preheated in the oven at 450ºF for 10-12 minutes. The honey and unsalted butter are heated over medium-low heat in a saucepan until it bubbles and darkens, this should take about 2-3 minutes. The sesame seeds are then stirred in the honey mixture. The mass is Spread onto a buttered baking sheet to a thickness of about 1/4 inch and cooled until it is just warm, then cut into finger-sized pieces.
Couscous is a Malian dish of small steamed granules of rolled durum wheat semolina that is traditionally served with a stew spooned on top. Pearl millet, sorghum, Bulgur, and other cereals can be cooked in a similar way in other regions and the resulting dishes are also sometimes called couscous.
This Malian dish is a form of semolina flour pasta that is created from tiny steamed balls. It’s one of the quickest, simplest, and most adaptable side dishes you can make. It pairs well with stews and other saucy main meals. It’s super easy to make by simply pouring boiling water over the dried couscous and leaving it to stand for 5-15 minutes.
When compared with white rice, the calories are pretty much the same. However, couscous contains more protein and higher amounts of vitamins and minerals so you could say it was slightly healthier. Couscous is often considered a healthy alternative to pasta since it’s made from whole-wheat flour. Other types of pasta are typically more refined. Properly cooked, couscous is light and fluffy. What’s more, it tends to take on the flavor of other ingredients, making it very versatile.
|Amount per – 100 grams|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 0.2 g||0%|
|Saturated fat 0 g||0%|
|Cholesterol 0 mg||0%|
|Sodium 5 mg||0%|
|Potassium 58 mg||1%|
|Total Carbohydrate 23 g||7%|
|Dietary fiber 1.4 g||5%|
|Sugar 0.1 g|
|Protein 3.8 g||7%|
Health Benefits of Couscous
- Couscous contains selenium, which may help reduce your cancer risk.
High selenium blood levels may protect against certain cancers, according to a review of 69 studies involving over 350,000 people, though the effect was linked to eating selenium-rich foods rather than taking supplements. Selenium deficiency has been associated to an increased risk of prostate cancer in several studies. Furthermore, consuming sufficient amounts of selenium in conjunction with vitamins C and E has been shown to reduce the risk of lung cancer in smokers.
- Couscous contains selenium, which can help your immune system.
By lowering oxidative stress in the body, this antioxidant aids in the reduction of inflammation and the enhancement of immunity. While increasing selenium levels in the blood boost the immune response, a deficit can impair immune cells and their function, according to research. Selenium also aids in the regeneration of vitamins C and E, which improves the function of your immune system.
- Protein, which is made up of amino acids, makes up about 16–20% of your body weight. Amino acids play a role in practically all of your body’s metabolic processes. As a result, eating protein from animal and/or plant sources is critical. Couscous is high in plant-based protein, with 6 grams every one-cup (157-gram) meal. Couscous is an ideal meal choice for vegetarian and vegan diets since it contains plant-based protein. To receive all of the required amino acids, however, it needs to be coupled with other plant proteins.
- Plant-based protein-rich diets have been associated with a lower incidence of stroke, cancer, and heart disease death.
This Malian dish is a traditional Malian desert. Bouille is a French word that means “burned milk tart.” The original tart has a thick, sugar cookie-like crust with a silky custard filling in the center. This delightful treat is made with a few simple ingredients, including milk, eggs, butter, sugar, and vanilla.
Melktert is an Afrikaner dessert consisting of a sweet pastry crust containing a custard filling made from milk, flour, sugar, and eggs. The ratio of milk to eggs is higher than in a traditional Portuguese custard tart or Chinese egg tart, resulting in a lighter texture and a stronger milk flavor. This is usually termed, “a complete dessert ”. The name is gotten from a pidgin version of milk tart; it doesn’t take much to whip up this delicious tart dessert mainly because all the ingredients can be gotten from your pantry.
7. Malian Tea
Popular throughout the Sahel, this tea is a concentrated, sweetened brew that is served in tiny glasses (think shot glass sized). The tea kettle itself is tiny, and it seems everything has been miniaturized due to the tea’s strength.
Malian tea is a sweetened, intense drink delivered in three bursts in miniature cups. Because the first serving of tea is bitter and strong, it is referred to as “death.” The second serving is dubbed ‘life’ because it becomes sweeter. ‘Love’ is the name of the last and last serving. In Mali, drinking tea is a time to unwind and mingle. Malian cuisine offers a wide variety of incredibly tasty dishes that you must taste on your next vacation to Mali to fully appreciate the country’s true flavors.
Mali and Mauritania tea ritual is common throughout North Africa. The tea that is used is typically Chinese green tea. The tea is brewed over coals and then poured into another pot. It is poured back and forth and then into glasses. Both in Mali and Mauritania, it is often made and served by the man of the house.
- Three spurts of Malian tea are served. After each meal, a large amount of sugar and water are added. The first serving, which is intense and bitter, is supposed to taste like death.
- Life – becoming sweeter! is the title of the second serving. Finally, there’s love in the third glass, and the love comes from a ridiculous amount of white refined sugar.
- In Mali, drinking tea is a procedure. It takes an hour or more to prepare because the tea kettle is usually heated over charcoal and there are three different serves. If you’re in a hurry, don’t commit to drinking tea. This is a time to unwind and mingle.
- The tea is served straight from the kettle and it’s typically quite hot. The key to drinking the tea is to take sips that are one part air and one part tea. Kind of, you know, slurp it.
Malian cuisine is taken quite seriously in Mali. In fact, food consumes more than half of an average Malian household’s annual income! Without a doubt, Malian cuisine is a magnificent experience for any of us ethnic culinary travelers, with such a strong emphasis on superb food. As a result, we cordially encourage you to travel to Mali and sample the culinary delights that await you.