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DRC Food: 10 Must-Try Traditional Dishes of the Democratic Republic of Congo

DRC Food: 10 Must-Try Traditional Dishes of the Democratic Republic of Congo

The Democratic Republic of the Congo, also known as the DRC, is a country located in Central Africa bordered by the Republic of the Congo, Angola, Zambia, Tanzania, Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda, South Sudan and the Central African Republic. It is the second-largest country on the continent and is rich in natural resources, including copper, cobalt, diamonds and gold.

The country has a long, complex history, involving colonization, civil war, and political instability. Despite this, the people of Democratic Republic of the Congo have maintained a vibrant culture and unique cuisine.

Most Popular Dishes of the DRC

The country’s dishes feature a mix of local ingredients and influences from neighboring countries. Popular ingredients in Congolese cuisine include cassava, plantains, yams, corn, beans, and various meats, including beef, chicken and goat.

Palm oil, peanut butter, and coconut milk are also used frequently to add flavor and richness to dishes.

Traditionally, meals are served family-style, with everyone sharing from a communal plate or bowl. Eating with the hands is also common in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Here are the absolute must-try traditional dishes of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, along with recipes to try for yourself.

Liboke De Poisson (Baked Fish)

Liboke De Poisson (Baked Fish)

Fish Liboke is a fish dish that is made by wrapping fish, such as catfish, in banana leaves and cooking it over an open flame. This can be served with rice or plantain.

Liboke is a traditional method of cooking in DRC; involving making a pouch from banana leaves, stuffing with meat, fish and/or vegetables, and cooking over a flame. Liboke dishes are often served at special occasions.

Many African and Asian dishes are cooked in banana leaves, such as Cambodian Amok fish and Thai baked fish.



Fufu is a starchy staple food made from cassava, plantains, or yams. It is typically boiled, mashed, and rolled into small balls that are then dipped into soup or sauce.

Fufu has been a popular food in many African countries for centuries and is believed to have originated in West Africa. It is often served with soups or stews and is a favorite comfort food in the DRC.

Moambe Chicken (Chicken Stew)

Moambe Chicken

Moambe chicken is a savoury chicken stew, typically served at special occasions in the DRC. The dish consists of chicken cooked in a rich tomato and palm oil sauce and is usually served with fufu or rice.

The origins of the dish are not clear, but it is thought to have been influenced by the Portuguese who brought palm oil to Africa. Nutmeg and peanut butter are often added to moambe chicken for extra flavor.

Makayabu (Dried Fish)

Makayabu (Dried Fish)

Makayabu are small dried fish that are often fried and served as a snack, or used to flavor soups and stews. Makayabu is believed to have originated in the Congo.

They are a popular snack food in the Congo and are often eaten with beer.

Pondu (Cassava Leaf Stew)


Pondu is a stew made by boiling the leaves of cassava plants, commonly served with rice or fufu. Pondu can be served with many dishes and is popular for family meals, as well as special occasions, such as weddings.

Cassava leaves are a staple ingredient in homes in the DRC. To make pondu, the leaves are removed from their stems and crushed into a paste, the paste is then seasoned and boiled.



Chikwanga is a type of Congolese bread made from cassava flour, prepared by wrapping the flour balls in banana leaves and steaming them. This is a popular side dish in the Democratic Republic of Congo, often accompanying main meals like soup or stews.

Chikwanga may also be eaten as a snack, and can be found for sale at food stalls or markets.

Saka-Saka (Pounded Cassava)


Saka-saka is a dish made from pounded cassava leaves and peanuts. This is a staple food in the Congo, and is often served with fish, fufu or rice.

There are many variations of saka-saka, with different seasoning being added to adjust the flavor, as well as ingredients like onions, garlic and dried fish.

Beignets (Donuts)


Beignets are fried donuts that are a popular sweet dish in the Democratic Republic of Congo. They are typically made with flour, yeast, and sugar and are often served with coffee or tea.

Beignets are believed to have originated in France but have become a popular food in the Congo. Similar desserts are popular throughout Africa, such as puff puff from Nigeria.

Madesu (Beans with Tomato Sauce)


Madesu is a dish made with cannellini beans in a spicy tomato sauce, often served with rice on the side. This is a popular vegan dish in DRC, however it can also be served with meat such as pork or beef.

Madesu translates to ‘beans’ in the Lingala language.

Pili Pili

Pili Pili

Pili pili is an extremely spicy hot sauce. This sauce is very versatile and can be added to almost any meal.

The main ingredient in pili pili is the scotch bonnet pepper, which is rated 100,000–350,000 Scoville units on the Scoville Scale.

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