You may have heard of Benin, a small country in West Africa, with a little known, but ancient history, and you may have wondered what kind of food is eaten there. There are many very rich, delicious dishes to discover in Benin as the country’s cuisine varies from region to region.
Some local dishes can also be found in other West African countries, sometimes under different names, but Beninese dishes are something special and an important part of the country’s culture and traditions.
So let’s discover some of the best dishes Benin has to offer!
1. Djewo (salted pasta)
Djèwo, commonly called Amiwo in Fon, is the most popular meal in southern and central Benin. Djèwo is a dough prepared with corn flour that is well seasoned.
When all the ingredients are combined and cooked, the dish smells delicious. Djèwo is eaten with fried foods, such as onions, and tomato juice or crushed green peppers and, most commonly, with chicken, guinea fowl or mutton.
2. Watche or Atassi
Watché, or Atassi, is one of the most consumed dishes in northern Benin. It is prepared by mixing rice with beans and is usually eaten with fried fish or meat.
Depending on the region, this food is eaten either in the morning or in the afternoon. It is a very popular dish as the ingredients are easily available.
Monyo is a sauce that is consumed almost everywhere in Benin. The taste of this sauce varies depending on the ingredients that are added. In the south of Benin, mustard (afittin in Fon), a little vegetable oil and onions are added. When these three ingredients are combined, the taste becomes magnificent!
Monyo is highly valued because it doesn’t take too long to cook. It is often accompanied by Akassa or Piron (eba). To complete the dish, a few pieces of fried chicken or fish are added.
4. Dekounoun Sounnou (seed sauce)
This seed sauce is obtained from palm nuts. This sauce is mainly eaten in the south of Benin, especially in the capital Porto-Novo. Apart from the irresistible taste and flavor of this sauce, it is very rich in lipids.
In some households, vegetables or crabs are added to the already seasoned sauce to make it more exotic. Dékoun Sounou is easy to eat with Télibo, a white or black corn paste.
In eastern Benin, it is accompanied by crushed banana paste, also known asfoutou banana.
5. Wo (corn dough)
White pasta, or corn pasta, is usually referred to as wo in the Fon language. It is one of the most consumed dishes in southern Benin. Whether in the south or the north, this pasta is often consumed in the evening.
However, some people like to consume this paste when it is reheated, that is, boiled in hot water the next day. This meal is called wo koli in Fon. To enhance the taste, it is usually accompanied by a sticky sauce, for example Assrokouin or Crincrin.
6. Tchokourou (mashed yam)
Tchokourou, also called Agoun in the Fon language, is a very special dish in Benin. Indeed, it is the favorite dish of the central and northern communities. It is known as the food of ceremonies, that is, a seasonal festival is specially dedicated to it.
Tchokourou is much more consumed during the harvest period of the yam. It is a very captivating meal, very tasty and energizing. In the north it is accompanied by peanut sauce and bushmeat, while in the center of the country it is accompanied by vegetable sauces.
7. Gboman (major nightshade)
Gboman is eaten all over Benin. It is a stew prepared with vegetables. It creates a delicious and irresistible scent when all the ingredients are combined.
To intensify the flavor, some people add mustard. Gboman is a universal stew, meaning it can be served with almost anything, e.g. white pasta, black pasta, Akassa, etc.
8. Ninnowi (Crincrin Sauce)
Crincrin sauce is a very popular meal in Benin. It is often consumed alone, but in some cases complements other dishes such as Dékoun Sounnou.
9. Ablo (rice cake)
In Benin, rice is processed in different ways to make different types of food. Among these foods are rice pasta and Ablo.
Ablo is eaten all over Benin, in restaurants, markets, etc. It is greatly appreciated for its sweet taste. To make it even tastier and to enhance the flavors, a little bit of chili can be added. This dish is often accompanied by fried chicken or fish.
10. Hankpete (pork sauce)
Pork sauce is one of the most succulent dishes in Benin. Unfortunately, its use is prohibited for the Muslim community.
Hankpetè is specific to the south, mainly the capital (Porto-Novo). The sauce is prepared with the animal’s blood mixed with spices and pieces of meat. The well-seasoned meat is generally grilled over a fire using very special techniques.
11. Washing machine
Wassawasa is a meal obtained from cassava or yam. It is specific to the north, but it is also eaten in some regions of central and southern Benin. This meal is usually served with fried foods.
In some locations in Benin, such as Bassila, Wassassa is flavored with cheese, beef hide or black pepper. But in other places, such as in Parakou or Natitingou, it is eaten with fried fish, beef or soy cheese.
12. Gbo Kpete (mutton sauce)
Like pork sauce (Hankpètè), Gbokpètè is also one of the tastiest dishes in Benin. This sauce is specific to the people of Zou and the south.
Like pork soup, it is prepared by collecting the blood of sheep. This blood is then converted into a sauce after adding herbs and various other ingredients. Gbokpètè is usually eaten with Akassa or red Piron (eba in the Goun language). It is a very tasty and nutritious meal.
13. Ata (bean cake)
Ata is usually made with bean flour (white or red beans). It is considered the most popular dietary supplement in northern Benin. Bean cake is sold in almost every town in Benin, mainly in alleys.
In the north of Benin, it is consumed in the evening around 4 pm with millet or sorghum porridge. But in some places in the south it is eaten in the morning. Ata is a traditional Benin dish and very tasty.
Toubani is mainly cooked in the north of Benin. It is made by grinding beans or cassava into flour. It is often accompanied by millet porridge or sorghum. However, some people like to consume it only with vegetable oil mixed with chili.
This dish is sold in small or large boxes all over the alleys of the north and is very affordable.
15. Telibo (Black Paste)
Telibo is a specialty of the north that has quickly spread throughout Benin due to its taste. It is prepared from yam pods and is usually black or brown in color.
The black paste is a delicious accompaniment to most sauces, such as peanut sauce, sticky sauce or vegetable sauce. Due to its very tasty and tender taste, it is eaten at any time of the day. Telibo is mainly sold in markets, restaurants and by some street vendors.
16. Eba (Pyron)
Piron, eba in Fon, is prepared from the flour obtained from cassava (Gari). It is consumed all over Benin.
There are two types of Piron: Red Piron or White Piron. In the case of white Piron, the preparation is very simple and requires no additional ingredients, while red Piron is made by adding tomato paste, chili, onions and ginger. In Benin, eba is the ultimate friend of paste sauces, namely Crincrin sauce, Assrokoiun sauce and okra sauce.
17. Assrokouin (Wild Apple Almond Sauce)
Assrokouin, also called Adindon, is a yellowish sticky sauce. It is prepared from the powder obtained after processing wild apple seeds. When properly seasoned with herbs, mustard, crab, cheese, smoked fish or Kpanman, it produces a very pleasant fragrance.
In addition, it is very easy to prepare and does not require much work. When the Adindon sauce is ready, it can be served with any kind of dough cooked in Benin, namely white dough, piron or black dough.
18. Fevi (Okra Sauce)
Okra sauce, commonly called Févi in Fon, is classified in the sticky sauce category. It is much more prized in the north than in other parts of Benin. Okra sauce is usually accompanied by white pasta, piron or mashed yam.
Tchantchanga is a dish mainly consumed in northern Benin, made from grilled mutton or beef.
It is usually sold at the edge of markets, in restaurants or bus stations and it is appreciated by foreign tourists visiting Benin. It is often accompanied by wheat bread.
20. Baobab Leaf Powder Sauce
Baobab is a tree with many properties. The pulp is usually used to make juice. Likewise, the dry leaf is used to prepare a delicious sauce. In the north of Benin, this sauce is called Koukoum or Kouka.
The name varies from one ethnic group to another. The preparation of this sauce does not take much time. It is usually accompanied by all kinds of dough.
Related: Most Popular West African Foods
Related: Most Popular Nigerian Foods
Related: Most Popular Foods In Ghana