Top 20 Most Popular Foods In Congo

The Democratic Republic of the Congo is the second largest country in Africa with an area of ​​more than 2,345,000 square kilometers.

The national territory is mainly covered with dense equatorial forest; it stretches from the Atlantic coast in the west to the Great Lakes region in the east. There are savannas to the northeast and south, as well as gallery forests, high plateaus, and mountains to the east.

In the heart of the country we find the central basin, which is very humid with a significant presence of watercourses and swamps.

The country’s forests and savannas offer an enormous variety of animal and bird species, and the lakes and rivers teem with fish, while the vegetation provides a rich array of fruits and vegetables, the culinary delight of the nearly 450 ethnic groups in this country. country of about 100 million inhabitants.

This cultural diversity associated with the country’s biodiversity opens up an impressive field of gastronomic possibilities; each region has its native species of plants and animals that the locals can cook using their own cultural and historical sensibilities.

Eating habits are often linked to the region of origin; fish is a staple food for those living by the rivers, meat-rich dishes for Congolese living in tropical savanna areas, while those living in wooded topical areas will eat mostly vegetarian foods.

It would not be possible to describe all the gastronomic diversity of the DRC in the context of this article, but we will focus on 20 of the most popular dishes.

1. Meetings

meet
credit: chez_tantie_jai_faim

It is a dish that generally consists of cooked fish with tomato, salt and chili and wrapped in banana leaves or other wild plants, which will imbue the fish with their aromas. Everything is then put on a grill. Adding other spices, such as garlic and celery, improves the flavor.

The fish can also be substituted for various other ingredients such as chicken, pork, pumpkin and many more. It’s all a matter of preference.

2. Laid

pondu
credit: tshitshis.casseroles

Pondu is one of the most popular dishes in the whole country.

The dish is made with prepared cassava leaves cooked in a pot, with or without spices. For example, in the middle of the country, pondu is simply boiled with water and a pinch of salt. In other parts of the country, oil – especially palm oil – and spices are added, as well as onions, aubergines, scallions, etc.

It can be enjoyed with rice, as well as fufu or plantains, but this list is not exhaustive. You can also add beef, fish or beans to the dish.

3. Fufu

fufu

Besides pondu, fufu is one of – if not the – staple food of Congo. From north to south, east to west, fufu is present on all Congolese tables.

There are two main types: corn fufu and cassava fufu.

Corn fufu is made from cornmeal mixed with water, which is brought to a boil until cooked and then simmered over low heat until the dough is set; it is served as balls.

Cassava fufu is made by first drying the cassava and then grinding it. Once the flour is obtained, the preparation is almost the same as for corn fufu. Also note that the two flours can be used together.

4. Chikwange (Kwanga)

I refuse
credit: hello_kinshasa

In addition to fufu, we find chikwange, which is also made from cassava, but whose preparation is more complex.

Chikwange is usually not prepared at home. The preparation time is quite long; it may take one to two weeks. You need to soak the cassava in water for several days before preparing it and let it drain for another two or three days before wrapping it in banana leaves and cooking for a good hour.

Chikwange goes well with all kinds of vegetables or fish, but is also enjoyed outdoors with barbecue and a good beer in the major cities of Congo.

5. Lithuania

Lithuania
credit: frida_blessing_food_tv

Another popular accompaniment is lituma. It looks like fufu, but consists of plantains that are boiled, then peeled and mashed. At this stage, spices can be added to the pasta for added flavor.

Lituma is highly valued by populations native to the equatorial zones of the central basin.

6. I’m angry

I was angry
credit: chef_apple_k

Ndakala are small dried fish, also called 1000 poisons. They can be fried in oil with a little chili and flavored with fufu or chikwange. Ndakala can also be mixed with all kinds of vegetables, bathed in tomato sauce.

7. Makemba (Plantains)

plantains

As the French name suggests, it is a type of banana, but one that cannot be eaten raw; it should either be fried in oil, boiled in water, or grilled. And as we saw above, when cooked, plantain can be made into lituma.

In Congo’s largest cities, fried bananas have become a very popular item on fast food menus, even eclipsing French fries.

8. Bound

Be bound to
credit: leya_food

Fumbwa is a vegetable made from the green leaves of the plant gnetum africanum.

The leaves are rolled into a bundle and then cut with a knife into thin strips, giving them the appearance of filament. They are usually prepared with spices and peanuts. It is a specialty of the western provinces.

9. Travel

Matembelé
credit: tshitshis.casseroles

Matembele is a vegetable made from the leaves of sweet potatoes. It is a creeping plant that grows very quickly on almost every plot in Congo. It’s quite easy to prepare with a few spices and oil and goes well with almost any local accompaniment.

Unlike pondu, matembele is more commonly found on Congolese plates, mainly due to its extremely low cost.

10. Mayebo (Mushrooms)

Mayebo
credit: m_w_foodyy

One of the delicacies of Congolese cuisine is mayebo: mushrooms of various kinds, fresh or dried, which can be prepared in tomato sauce or palm oil, but also mixed with vegetables, prepared in broth or even in a stew.

11. Mbinzo (caterpillars)

Mbinzo

In addition to mayebo, there are mbinzo; these are dried caterpillars. In Kinshasa they are usually cooked with a light white sauce made from onions and a little oil with the essential red chilli pepper.

But mbinzo’s recipes across the country are as varied as they are creative; they can be found associated with mayebo or mixed with mbika… the possibilities are endless.

12. Mbika

Mbika
credit: mbika_paris

A type of flour made from ground pumpkin seeds that tends to get wrapped around the food it is cooked with.

Very often prepared in liboke, that is, wrapped in a banana leaf, the end result has a texture reminiscent of black pudding.

13. Lumba-Lumba

This vegetable with a very aromatic taste reminiscent of mint is popular in the middle of the country and does not require the addition of spices in its preparation. It is sometimes prepared with chicken and chili.

14. Mbala (Sweet Potato)

Boiled Sweet Potato

Sweet potato is also one of the popular foods of Congo. There are two types of sweet potato that are grown locally: the sweet potato (mbala ya sukali) and the unsweetened potato (mbala ya mungwa). It can be cooked in tomato sauce with pieces of beef or pork with onions, garlic, etc., or simply boiled in clear water.

In cities, you’ll find it thinly sliced ​​and fried like French fries or potato chips.

15. Shoot the snails

Tshola tsha kabolaola
credit: mompatox_kitchen

Tshomba tshia kabiola is a dessert made with fermented cassava, peanuts, milk and sugar. The cassava is submerged in hot water for about 15 minutes – be careful not to soften it too much – then drained and submerged in room temperature water to store for 4 days in an airtight container.

On the fourth day, the cassava is grated and mixed with powdered milk and sugar, not to mention the peanuts. Finally, add water until you get the texture you want and keep it in the fridge.


Let’s take a look at some dishes that may not originate from Congo, but are nevertheless hugely popular locally and earn a spot among the 20 most popular dishes in Congo.

16. Mpiodi (horse mackerel)

Mpiodi
credit: congo food week

This fish is so popular, especially in Kinshasa, that it is nicknamed the friend of Kinois (residents of Kinshasa); one of the other nicknames is Thompson. Another surprising fact is that mpiodi costs much less than locally caught fish. It’s mainly imported from Namibia.

By far the most popular recipe is the oil fried mpiodi. Second, we grilled the mpiodi on barbecues; larger mpiodis are preferred for this recipe. But it is not uncommon to taste an mpiodi in tomato sauce or mixed with vegetables.

17. Cuisse (frozen chicken thigh)

chicken thighs

These are chicken thighs from chickens raised in battery cages. They are very recognizable to the eye as they are much larger than the usual chicken thighs and they have a much more tender and fuller meat.

They have conquered the palaces of the Congolese for the past fifteen years, especially in the big cities. On the other hand, on the recipe side, they are often appreciated stewed.

18. Chicken Mayo

Chicken Mayo
credit: ag_cooking_

This dish appeared in the last ten years and chicken mayo is one of the latest finds from the Congolese Cordon Bleu.

The chicken is first cut into very small pieces and seasoned, then peppers, chili, onions and garlic are added, then the chicken is grilled and wrapped in baking paper. Fifteen minutes before the end of cooking, the package is unpacked and mayonnaise is added before repacking; everything goes back to the fire before being served ten to fifteen minutes later…smooth if you like!

19. Yes Jean

Yes Jean
credit: view of the congo

Another very popular dish is ya jean; it is smoked goat meat. The goat is slaughtered and slaughtered on the spot, and everyone chooses their piece, which is then cut and seasoned.

The pieces are wrapped in parchment paper and then placed on the grill. After 45 minutes, the meal is served with chikwangue or fried plantains and a cold beer.

20. Post Office (Ngulu Post)

This word literally means pigskin. As the name suggests, these are pieces of pork skin that have been cut into squares and dipped in a marinade before being smoked on a grill.

This snack is eaten as an appetizer with chili powder, preferably, and rings of raw onions, which help to degrease grilling.


This concludes our small exploration of the gastronomy of the Democratic Republic of Congo, which we can describe as rather greasy – we do not abstain from oil – but also rich thanks to the quite significant presence of spices, including, of course, the unmistakable red pepper.


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Junior Boweya

Junior is a writer and translator from Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo. He holds a BA in graphic arts from the Académie des Beaux-arts, Kinshasa, Congo’s Academy of Fine Arts.

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