Burkina Faso is a landlocked country situated in West Africa, surrounded by Mali, Niger, Benin, Togo, Ghana and the Ivory Coast. Burkina Faso, meaning “land of honest men,” is popular for its important reserves of gold.
The population of the country is constituted of two main West African ethnic cultural groups: the Voltaic and the Mandé. Burkinabe cuisine is known to resemble the cuisines of several regions of West Africa.
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Most Popular Burkinabe Dishes
Staple ingredients of Burkina Faso’s cuisine include sorghum, okra, millet, beans, maize, rice, fonio, peanuts, potatoes and yams. Some of the mostwidely consumed grains include rice, maize and millet. Grilled meat is popular in the country, especially fish, goat, mutton and beef.
Commonly consumed vegetables include yams, cucumbers, onions, potatoes, okra, zucchini, carrots, sorrel leeks, beets, pumpkins, tomatoes, cabbage and spinach.
One of the most common dishes served in the rural areas include Tô. However, other foods, such as a sauce prepared using corchorus or baobab leaves, the calyx from Bombax costatum, dried fish, and spices like chili and soumbala are also widely consumed.
Here are the absolute must-try traditional dishes of Burkina Faso, along with recipes to try for yourself.
Ragout d’igname is a yam stew prepared using yams, carrots, ginger, pepper, garlic, tomatoes and onions. It is known to resemble a casserole and is normally seasoned only with salt and pepper.
Usually consumed hot, ragout d’igname is thick in texture, although the yam is tender. As well as Burkina Faso, this dish is also consumed in several other West African countries.
Babenda is a widely consumed one-pot dish that is generally prepared using bitter greens, including kale, spinach, mustard greens or swiss chard. One interesting ingredient added to this dish includes fermented locust beans, also known as dawadawa or soumbala. It adds a pungent flavor to the dish that is suggestive of blue cheese.
Soumbala is also combined with smoked or dried fish. The whole mixture is typically mixed with rice to prepare babenda, a smooth portion of fish, bitter greens, rice, and soumbala.
Riz Gras is a one-pot dish that is prepared using white rice, tomato paste and vegetables including, eggplants, carrots, onions, chili peppers and garlic. All the ingredients are boiled in a rice stew. The dish is then accompanied by some strands of raw onions that are added on top.
Riz gras is considered to be the national dish of Burkina Faso, it is French for fat rice.
Some people add meat to this dish (which is first browned). Another important ingredient added to riz gras is peanut oil, which gives the dish its name. Many people in Burkina Faso consider this simple dish to be the ideal comfort food. It is packed with certain important nutrients like proteins, carbohydrates, and vegetables.
Mafe, also known as tigadeguena locally, is a peanut stew that is either made using lamb, beef or chicken. The dish is typically prepared with peanut sauce, and other ingredients include sweet potatoes, vegetables, and onions.
This dish is indigenous to Mali’s Mandinka and Bambara peoples. However, it is considered a staple food in Western Africa and is also widely consumed throughout Burkina Faso.
There are many variations of this dish, but some of the commonly added ingredients include cabbage, chicken, onion, tomato, garlic, and root vegetables. Other versions of this dish use cinnamon, okra, carrots, hot peppers, corn, paprika, turmeric, cumin, black pepper and additional spices.
This delicacy is traditionally accompanied by white rice, tuwo or omo tuo, couscous or fufu and sweet potatoes.
Tô, also known as saghbo, is an ugali-like dish that includes cooked millet, corn or sorghum. All the ingredients are properly mixed until a smooth paste is obtained. It is typically accompanied by stews and sauces that are prepared using meat or vegetables.
The dough-based dish is usually paired with okra sauce, prepared by gradually simmering okra in water along with seasonings like salt and pepper. Tô is never consumed on its own, always alongside soups, stews or sauces.
Dégué, also known as thiakry, is a dessert prepared using couscous and millet in yoghurt. The dish is made by adding wheat or millet grains to milk, sweetened condensed milk or yogurt, along with dried fruits like raisins, desiccated coconut and spices including nutmeg. Some people also add honey for additional sweetness.
This creamy, sweet dish originated in West Africa and can be consumed as a snack as well as a dessert.
Yassa chicken, also called poulet yassa, is a dish made using chicken that is marinated for the whole night with onions, lemon juice and mustard. A combination of several herbs and spices (such as cayenne pepper, parsley and garlic) is also added to enhance the flavor.
Usually consumed with white rice, yassa chicken can also be accompanied with other grains such as quinoa, couscous or bulgur wheat. Other alternatives include serving it along with a yam mash. There are many different variations of yassa including yassa chicken, yassa lamb (made using lamb meat) and yassa poisson (prepared using fish).
Originating in Senegal, this delicacy is widely popular throughout West Africa.
Sauce Gombo is a sauce prepared using fresh or dried okra. Generally sticky in texture, this sauce is used as an accompaniment to fish or meat dishes.
The base of the sauce is kept the same, but the seasonings differ from country to country. The name also varies as per the country. It is known as fétridessi soup in Senegal, kope sauce in Côte d’Ivoire, takou in Guinea and okra soup in Ghana.
Fufu is a type of huge dumpling prepared using a mixture of cassava and green plantain flour. Both the ingredients are combined in equal portions with water and then cooked on a pan over a low flame. The prepared mixture is then moistened using lukewarm water and shaped into a ball.
It is eaten with fingers and is used to scoop up other foods on the plate, particularly sauces and soups. Fufu is also a staple dish of many other countries throughout Africa.