6 Astounding African Foods That Can Boost Your Mood

Amarachi Irobi
Amarachi Irobihttp://@Amara_ii
My name is Amarachi Irobi, a content writer and food lover who loves to explore traditional African cuisine.
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Food in the general sense of it is nutrients organisms absorb for sustenance. Food substances consist essentially of protein, carbohydrates and fat, and other nutrients used in the body of an organism to sustain growth, vital processes, and furnish energy.
The absorption and utilization of food by the body is fundamental to nutrition and is facilitated by digestion.

Nonetheless, when it comes to humans, it goes far deeper.
Food for humans across the world represents more than a means of sustenance, rather it’s also a source of happiness, a  link between communities, etc.
The science of happiness has figured out that not only does some food makes us happy, but it also turns out that some food is made of compounds that have been shown to affect our mood. Even more interesting, going without certain foods can have the opposite effect, putting us at a higher risk for depression.

Cultures all over the world have a recognizable favorite cuisine, A specific set of cooking traditions using various species or a combination of spices and flavors unique to that culture, which evolves, Other differences include preferences (hot or cold, spicy, etc.) and practices.

For Africans, Food is life and all levels of happiness can be unlocked once the people’s favorite dish is served. Food is the people’s love language, In Africa knowing how to cook as a woman is a prerequisite for marriage. So knowing how important food is for us can’t be undermined.

Africa is a diverse continent that possesses numerous attractions.
Visitors and holidaymakers are often drawn to the many positive features on the continent including friendly and energetic people, but the most compelling narrative revolves around African foods and treats.

African cuisine is diverse, delicious, and abundant. You are spoiled, not only for choice; tasting the sumptuous dishes also opens your eyes to the gateways to the very cultural essence of the tribes/races on the continent.

The average African meal is the result of meticulous attention to detail; you’ll notice that those cooks use a wide variety of base ingredients, spices, and other condiments to create a culinary paradise. Every location delivers a delicacy that will exceed your minimum expectations, from the drylands of North Africa to the lush greens of the West and the Sahel plains in the East.

Typical African food is made with starchy items and can contain meat, fish as well as various spices and herbs.
African foods will most likely tempt your taste buds with their vibrant appearance and a variety of tastes created by the use of indigenous ingredients in each dish. African foods, interestingly, have distinct flavors, textures, and aromas.
A wide array of staples are eaten across the whole region, including fufu, banku kenkey (originally from Ghana)couscous, tô, and garri, which are served alongside soups and stews. Fufu is often made from starchy vegetables such as yams, cassavas, and cocoyams but also cereal grains like millet, sorghum, or plantains, These are generally considered as staples across the regions where they are enjoyed.

Food is used to spread happiness and enjoyment in Africa, So here are some selected favourite African foods that are certified to bring happiness in places where they are served!

These 6 Astounding African Foods Would Greatly Boost Your Mood

Jollof Rice (West Africa)

nigerian jollof an african food known to boost mood

Image from Worldly TreatNow if you are a fan of African foods or have visited the rich continent, there is absolutely now way you wouldn’t know the popular Jollof rice. Jollof Rice is the most popular dish in West Africa, It is a dish typically made with long-grain rice, tomatoes, onions, spices, vegetables, and meat in a single pot, although its ingredients and preparation methods vary across different regions.

To enhance the color of the dish, tomato (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.

Over time there has been a raging rivalry between Nigerians and Ghanaians over who makes the best Jollof rice in the region.
The differences in taste and method of cooking are responsible for the ‘Jollof War’ between these countries.


  • 6 medium-sized fresh plum/Roma tomatoes, chopped, OR a 400-gram tin of tomatoes
  • 1/3 cup oil (vegetable/canola/coconut, not olive oil)
  • 6 fresh, red poblano peppers (or 4 large red bell peppers), seeds discarded
  • 3 medium-sized red onions (1 sliced thinly, 2 roughly chopped), divided
  • 1/2 to 1 hot pepper, or to taste (yellow Scotch bonnets are my favorite)
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 teaspoons (Caribbean/Jamaican-style) curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 2 dried bay leaves
  • 5 to 6 cups stock (vegetable, chicken, or beef) or water, divided
  • 2 teaspoons unsalted butter (optional), divided
  • 4 cups uncooked converted long-grain rice or golden basmati, rinsed
  • Salt, to taste
  • Black and white pepper, to taste.


  • Combine tomatoes, red poblano (or bell) peppers, chopped onions, and Scotch bonnets in a blender with 2 cups stock and blend until smooth should take about a minute. You should have about 6 cups of the blended mixture.
  • Bring to a boil in a large pot/pan, then reduce to low heat and cover for 10 to 12 minutes.
  • Heat the oil in a large pan and add the chopped onions.
  • Season with a touch of salt and stir-fry for 2 to 3 minutes on medium heat before adding the bay leaves, curry powder, and dried thyme, as well as a touch of black pepper.
  • After that, add the tomato paste and continue to stir for another 2 minutes. Stir in the reduced tomato-pepper-Scotch bonnet combination and cook for 10 to 12 minutes, or until reduced by half.
  • Add 4 cups of the stock to the cooked tomato sauce and bring it to boil for 1 – 2 minutes.
  • Add the rinsed rice and butter, stir, cover with a double piece of foil/baking or parchment paper and put a lid on the pan—this will seal in the steam and lock in the flavor.
  • Turn down the heat and cook on low for 30 minutes.
  • Stir rice—taste and adjust as required.
  • If you like, add sliced onions, fresh tomatoes, and the 2nd teaspoon of butter and stir through.
  • Your Jollof Rice is now ready, you can enjoy it with a side of Moi Moi, salad, peppered fish, chicken, beef, etc.


Koshari (Egypt)

Koshari (Egypt) an African food that helps boost mood

The National dish of Egypt, this African food is served in virtually every Egyptian restaurant, in every Egyptian home, and on every Egyptian street corner.  Street vendors serve the dish from carts to people eagerly waiting in line to eat this beloved and highly popular dish.

Koshari is an unusual combination of lentil rice, pasta, chickpeas, vinegar tomato sauce into a single dish and topped with fried onions.
The crowning aspect of this dish is the flavor-packed, spicy tomato sauce.  It’s made with a special spice blend called Baharat (Arabic for “spice”), an all-purpose spice blend commonly used in Middle Eastern cuisine.

Normally, koshari is served as a standalone dish. However, you can add some boiled eggs to the side. Also, a chopped salad goes well with this dish.



  • 2 cups uncooked white rice
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 (16 ounces) package uncooked elbow macaroni
  • 1 cup beluga lentils, soaked in water
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 5 onions, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
  • 4 ripe tomatoes, diced
  • ½ cup tomato paste
  • 1 ½ teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 ½ teaspoons ground cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper



  • Heat 1 tablespoon vegetable oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat.
  • Stir in rice; continue stirring until rice is coated with oil, about 3 minutes. Add 3 cups water and 1 teaspoon of salt.
  • Bring to a boil; reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer until the rice is tender and liquid has been absorbed 20 to 25 minutes.
  • Bring a big saucepan of lightly salted water to a boil over high heat.
  • Stir in the macaroni, and return to a boil. Cook the macaroni uncovered, stirring occasionally, until it has cooked through, but is still firm to the bite, about 8 minutes. Drain well in a colander. Return macaroni to the cooking pot, cover, and keep warm.
  • Soak lentils for 30 minutes. Drain and rinse; drain again. Bring 2 cups water to a boil in a pot and stir in lentils.
  • Bring to a boil; cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer until lentils are tender 15 or 20 minutes. Stir in 1/2 teaspoon salt.
  • In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon vegetable oil over medium-high heat. Cook the onions in the oil, turning frequently, for 10 to 15 minutes, or until they begin to brown.
  • Cook for another minute after adding the garlic. Drain on a paper towel-lined platter after removing from the pan.
  • Half of the onion mixture should be placed in a saucepan. Pour in the vinegar and mix well. Toss in the diced tomatoes and tomato paste, as well as the black pepper, 2 1/2 teaspoons salt, cumin, and cayenne pepper (if using). Bring to a boil, then reduce to low heat and cook for 12 minutes.
  • Serve by placing a spoonful of rice, then macaroni, and then the lentils on serving plates. Sprinkle with some of the browned onions, then top with tomato sauce.



Egusi soup

egusi-soup-african food
Image from K’s Cuisine

The famed Nigerian delicacy Egusi Soup is a soup made with a white kind of pumpkin seeds. Ground egusi or (pumpkin seeds) is the main ingredient of this African food. Other ingredients include red palm oil, African crayfish, meats and fish, seasoning, hot pepper, and some form of leafy greens.
It is an exotic, hearty meal that is guaranteed to deliver happiness when prepared right.
It is a staple in most Nigerian homes and it is an uncomplicated one-pot meal that is often accompanied by swallows like Eba, Amala, Semovita, Pounded yam, Fufu. Now let us get into the preparation of this African food.


  • 1 cup blended onions about 3- 5 and fresh chilies, to taste
  • 4 cups egusi melon seeds, ground or milled
  • 1⁄2 – 1 cup palm oil
  • 2 teaspoons fresh Une Iru, locust beans
  • Salt to taste
  • Ground crayfish to taste
  • 7– 8 cups stock
  • Meat & Dryfish (quantity and variety to personal preference)
  • 2 cups cut pumpkin leaves
  • 1 cup waterleaf cut
  • 3 tablespoons bitter leaf washed


  • Before preparing the soup, soak the dry fish for about half an hour. If you are using the very tough stockfish, boil it for 20 minutes and leave it in the pot with the hot water to soak for about an hour. If using the softer stockfish, you can just soak them in cool water till you can break them apart with your hands.
  • When the fish and stockfish are soft, debone and break them into sizeable chunks.
    Much closer to your cooking time, grind the egusi with a dry mill. Grind the crayfish and the dry pepper separately and set them aside. Wash the vegetable to be used. Cut into tiny pieces.
  • Boil the dry fish and meat in 1 liter of water with the stock cubes till they are well done.
  • Wash the beef to be used for the soup, add it to the pot and cook on medium heat till done.
  • As soon as the fish and meat are done, add crayfish and pepper, stir and remove all the meat from the stock (water used in cooking the meat and fish), and place in a different pot or plate.
  • Add the ground egusi to the stock and stir. If the stock from cooking your meat and fish is not enough to give you a medium consistency, add some water to get the consistency of evaporated milk or a bit thicker. It will not be as smooth as evaporated milk though.
  • Cover and cook till the egusi cakes. Stir and add a little bit more water. watch it closely so that it does not burn.
    Repeat step 3, adding only a small quantity of water at a time. After about 25 minutes, you will notice the clear egusi oil coming to the surface of the soup.
  • Add the red palm oil and bitter leaves (if it is your choice of vegetable), pepper, and salt to taste and cook for about 7 minutes. You know it is good to continue when the palm oil and egusi forms a good blend of light yellow color.
    Add the cooked meat and fish. If using pumpkin leaves or any other soft vegetable, add it at this time and stir the soup.
  • Add salt to your taste, stir and leave to simmer for 2 minutes maximum.
  • Turn off the heat. Leave to stand about 5 minutes before serving.

Your Egusi Soup is now ready for consumption!


Ndole (Cameroon)

Ndole (Cameroon)-african food
Image from Immaculate Bites

The national dish of Cameroon. It’s a stew made from spinach and bitter leaves – flavored with garlic, crayfish, and fortified with shrimp and beef.
A combination of peanuts, bitter leaves (substitute spinach), meat (stockfish, shrimp,) crayfish (dried shrimp), and oil are the essentials you’ll be needing to make this African food. It tastes like stew spinach dip, but even better. With aromatic spices and meat. This African food can be prepared in so many ways with more or fewer vegetables and meat depending on personal taste. It is a variable dish made to showcase some of Cameroon’s best and most abundant homegrown ingredients.


  • beef
  • salt
  • beef stock
  • 230 g stockfish
  • 230 g peanuts
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 3 onions divided!
  • 120 g crayfish
  • 450 g spinach
  • 700 ml oil
  • 230 g shrimps
  • plantains



  • In a large pot, season meat with salt and cover with beef stock. Boil until tender, depending on the choice of meat.
  • Meanwhile, boil stockfish with salt and water; add it to the boiled meat. You should have about 700 ml of stock from the meat and stockfish. Reserve the rest or freeze it.
  • Boil the peanuts for around 10 minutes in a pot. Allow cooling before blending or processing into a fine consistency. To make mixing easier, use water. Toss in with the beef and fish.
  • Mix one onion and garlic cloves into a fine paste and add to the peanuts and meat.
  • Pour in the crayfish and let it simmer for 10 minutes stirring frequently to prevent it from getting burnt. Season with salt.
  • Add the bitter leaves or spinach to the pot. Stir and simmer for several minutes.
    While the pot of ndole is simmering, heat oil in a frying pan or, a cast iron. Add the shrimp, stirring constantly until they turn pink. Slice and add the remaining onions, stir for a few more minutes.
  • Finally, incorporate the mixture of shrimp, onions, and oil into the pot of ndole. Stir for a few minutes.

Serve with Boiled or Fried Plaintain.


Piri Piri Chicken (Southern African)

peri peri chicken - african food
Image from Amazon Watch Magazine

Piri Piri Chicken is a flavorful African food made of any cut of chicken that is marinated in and also served with a homemade Peri-Peri sauce, a hot pepper sauce from South Africa. This African food is usually grilled and charred whole chicken pieces covered in a chili-based paste or sauce.

For the glaze;

  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons piri-piri sauce or other hot pepper sauce
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled, thinly sliced
  • 1 large shallot, peeled, quartered
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1/2 cup Piri-Piri sauce or other hot pepper sauce
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil plus additional for brushing
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 3 1/2- to 4-pound chicken, backbone removed, opened flat
  • 1 11 3/4 x 8 1/2 x 1 1/4-inch disposable aluminum baking pan (to catch drips)


For the glaze;
In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, melt the butter. Cook, stirring frequently, until the garlic begins to brown, should take around 2/3 minutes. Combine the Piri-Piri sauce and lemon juice in a mixing bowl. Reduce heat to medium-low and continue to cook for another 2 minutes.

For the chicken;
In a food processor, finely chop cilantro, ginger, shallot, and garlic. Process the marinade to include the Piri-Piri sauce, 1/4 cup oil, lemon juice, coarse salt, and pepper.

  • Marinade the chicken in the sauce, Cover; chill at least 4 hours or overnight, turning chicken occasionally.
  • Remove chicken from marinade. Arrange skin side up on grill rack above drip pan. Cover barbecue; grill until skin is browned turning often, for about 40 minutes. Transfer to platter. Pour warm glaze over.
  • Enjoy your delectable Piri Piri Chicken.

Nyama na Irio (Kenya)

Nyama na Irio (Kenya) african food

Irio (Mashed Sweet Potato with Peas and Corn) — A classic Kenyan dish that is a hearty combination of mashed sweet potatoes, peas, corn, and sometimes spinach. This African food is simple, yet filling and nutritious side dish that goes perfectly with stews, grilled meat, and fish. Irio is a hearty and nutritious accompaniment to meals that have become popular throughout Kenya. It has many variations, but potatoes and peas are the staple ingredients with corn the most common addition. Irio is famously paired with grilled steak (nyama).



  • 2 cups of Green peas
  • 1 1/2 pounds of peeled Potatoes, cut into chunks
  • Water
  • Salt — 2 teaspoons
  • 2 cups of Corn, fresh or frozen


  • In a large saucepan, combine the peas and potatoes with enough water to cover them. Place over a medium flame and stir in the salt. Bring to a boil, then decrease the heat to low and cook until potatoes are tender.
  • Drain and set aside the liquid.
  • Boil the corn with a little salted water in a separate saucepan for a few minutes while the potatoes and peas are cooking.
  • Mash the potatoes and peas together with a potato masher or put through a ricer to form a pale green puree. Stir in the corn with a little of the reserved liquid and season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • Your Irio is now ready for consumption, pair it with your grilled nyama (steak).

There are no limits to the list of African foods that are easily accessible.
These food items and the Joy and happiness they spread are one of  Africa’s hidden secrets and the key to its people’s strengths and high level of satisfaction. So whenever you visit, do not forget to try out these amazing African foods, as they would guarantee you have a lovely stay.

Here are links to some more African foods you may love to know about:

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Amarachi Irobi
Amarachi Irobihttp://@Amara_ii
My name is Amarachi Irobi, a content writer and food lover who loves to explore traditional African cuisine.

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