Many people know very little about African cuisine. Introducing yourself to African recipes full of robust flavors and tasty spices will enrich your culinary repertoire so that you’ll never have to serve a bland dish.
Without further ado, here are fourteen easy East African recipes that will blow your dinner guests away!
1. East African Pilau Rice
Pilau rice is a delicious and easy meal to throw together on a weeknight. And for vegans, this rice is fantastic to serve to your meat-eating friends as they’ll be impressed by how delicious it is!
The rice is rich with spices, like cumin, smoked paprika, curry, and cardamom for a warm and comforting flavor. The dish is super popular on the Swahili Coast and can easily be made spicy with the addition of chopped jalapenos, red pepper chili flakes, or your favorite hot sauce!
The rice is cooked in coconut milk, adding to the amazing flavor. So you get a fluffy bed of rice with a slightly sweet flavor. This dish works with almost all vegetables, so throw in the mushrooms, bell peppers, brussels sprouts, and whatever else you have in your kitchen!
2. East African-style Coconut Chicken
This delicious chicken recipe only takes about 45 minutes to prepare and is mouth-watering. The chicken is cooked with a plethora of spices in creamy coconut milk, so all the flavors meld together, resulting in super tender chicken thighs.
The recipe is substantial, including chicken legs plus potatoes, so this recipe is great for nights when you or your family is extra hungry. The dish also features crushed tomatoes, curry powder, cumin, coriander, garam masala, turmeric, and cinnamon stick. The flavor is truly unique and perfect for a rainy day.
3. African Peanut Soup
It may just look like peanut butter, but this African peanut soup is unbelievably flavorful and warm. It features vibrant spices like cumin, ginger, and garlic with diced jalapenos for a hint of heat. Chickpeas and crushed tomatoes make this a thick and decadent soup that will fill you up on a cold winter day.
This recipe includes shredded chicken to add more protein to the dish. It can easily be made vegetarian, and you can swap out the chicken for some boiled potato chunks to keep it rich.
The recipe comes together in as little as 30 minutes, so save this recipe for a busy weekday dinner. Kids will also love this soup if you tone down the jalapenos and keep it on the sweeter side!
4. East African Braised Chicken Recipe
This braised chicken recipe delivers an incredible amount of flavor that will give you a whole new appreciation for chicken. Braising the chicken wings and drumsticks in a rich, well-seasoned broth gives it a distinct flavor and tender texture.
The recipe takes some time but is super easy. After some simple steps searing the chicken on your stove, you pop everything into the oven for an hour, and then dinner is ready! You get a crispy outside on the chicken paired with an immensely flavorful and easy pull-apart inside.
Many East African recipes feature braising meat because it delivers such a rich and complete flavor and makes the meat beautifully tender to eat.
5. Kuku Paka Recipe
Kuku Paka is an East African chicken curry dish that is creamy, rich, and just spicy enough to clear your sinuses and wake you up! The dish is popular in Tanzania and Kenya and will bring a gorgeous aroma into your kitchen.
Traditionally, Kuku Paka cooks over a smoking fire pit, but this recipe tells you how to do it in just one pot on your stove.
The chicken is spicy, cooked with fiery scotch bonnet peppers. But the coconut curry sauce has a slight sweetness that balances the flavor, so you’re not begging for a glass of milk.
Chapati is super close to Indian naan bread but comes from East African cuisine. The preparation for this is simple, so it’s easy to make as a side for a curry or soup. The recipe only calls for flour, oil, water, and salt, so you likely don’t need to run to the grocery store to make this happen.
The more you do this recipe, the sooner it will become second nature. So if you think that it sounds hard to make bread like this, think again! It only takes a few minutes, a few ingredients, and easy techniques.
7. East African Fish Stew
From the Swahili Coast, this tropical-flavored African fish stew is incredibly tasty. The soup combines exotic and distinct flavors that will have your mouth-watering your friends begging for the recipe.
This recipe calls for shrimp or crab as the main protein, but you can substitute almost any fish or shellfish and have a wonderful meal. You can also add multiple seafood proteins, loading it up with that wonderful fishy flavor.
The recipe combines all the ingredients you could want, like tomato sauce, curry powder, potatoes, sweet peppers, chiles, a diced tomato, and coconut milk.
For something light and refreshing from East Africa, consider trying Kachumbari. It’s a tomato-onion salad usually served as an appetizer or side for grilled meat. Make this for your next picnic or barbecue, and you’ll see how fast it disappears into people’s bellies.
The recipe features cucumbers, avocados, and even habanero peppers for some added heat. But you can always skip the peppers if you want something on the subtle side. And the dressing is a delicious mix of honey, vinegar, oil, and lime juice.
9. Sukuma Wiki
You’re probably familiar with Southern collard greens, but what about Kenyan collard greens? The collard greens are paired with tomatoes and African spices and are best with bread like the Chapati or over rice.
This recipe calls for beef packed with spices, so it can work as an impressive side dish or healthy dinner if you make enough. You throw everything together in a pot on your stove and let everything simmer until the greens wilt and the beef cooks.
Even if you don’t like Southern collard greens, give these a try because they’re out of this world.
10. East African-style Cassava Chips
Forget potatoes because these African-style cassava chips are to die for. Sometimes called Mogo chips, these are the perfect snacks for even your pickiest eaters and are pretty healthy!
The recipe features lots of garlic and chili, so you get a deep, comforting flavor. The chips are more similar to French fries than potato chips but have a fluffier inside that will wow anyone who visits.
The chips take less than 30 minutes to bring together, so they’re great if you have last-minute guests or a hankering for cassava. Sprinkle some lime juice on top of them for a burst of freshness to highlight the chili flavor.
Mandazi is a fried dough that comes from the Swahili Coast. Popular in Kenya and Tanzania, the bread is excellent as a snack, appetizer, or for dipping into a yummy sauce.
Many compare Mandazi to donuts, but honestly, these make donuts look like saltines. Making the fried bread requires some finesse because you have to knead the dough, but in the end, the recipe is simple to accomplish.
Coconut powder and cardamom flavor the bread, so they have a slight sweetness but not too much. The fried bread can work as a dessert or side with lunch or dinner.
Are you looking for a tasty East African dessert recipe? Try this amazing coconut candy that is easy to make and will satisfy everyone’s sweet tooth.
All you have to do is combine coconut milk, sugar, and coconut flakes until you get a doughy texture that you can roll into these yummy balls. The final result is a soft coconut ball covered in fresh coconut flakes that you can pop into your mouth in one bite.
The dessert doesn’t even require you to use an oven, and they can be made in less than an hour if you know what you’re doing.
13. East African Beef Stew
Once you try this heavenly stew, it will become one of your go-to recipes for when the weather gets chilly, and you want some comfort food. The recipe features loads of vegetables, but feel free to be creative and add things you have in your fridge already.
The chunks of beef are seared in oil first, for a lovely brown outside, and then slowly braised in a tomato-coconut broth. The broth gives the marbled meat a rich and unique flavor that will wow all your friends and family.
The best part of this stew is that you can make extra and save it in the fridge or freezer. It will keep well and makes for yummy leftovers.
14. Makai Paka
Makai Paka is an East African corn-on-the-cob recipe that will become your new favorite appetizer or snack. The recipe is insanely easy and should only take you about 20-30 minutes to make.
The dish features halved ears of corn that have been boiled and then sauteed with tomatoes, serrano chilis, ground coriander, green chile powder, and turmeric for an explosion of flavor. Everything simmers in coconut milk to give the dish a creamy and tropical flavor.
This dish is ideal for a summer snack as it has a fresh but rich flavor. To finish off the dish, you should top it with fresh cilantro for a colorful and fresh look.
Easy East African Recipes, Final Thoughts
The cuisine from the East side of Africa will transcend your tastebuds and introduce you to new and incredible flavors.
From the refreshing tomato salad to the sweet fried bread to delectable braised meat, African cuisine will quickly become your favorite after trying these recipes.