Equatorial Guinea is located on the West Coast of Africa. It is one of the smallest countries in Africa and it is sandwiched between the countries of Cameroon and Gabon. It’s important to note that Equatorial Guinea is not a part of Guinea or Guinea Bassau, two other African countries with similar names.
The official language of Equatorial Guinea is Spanish which may come as a surprise. This is because it was once a colony of Spain. It is not the only African country once occupied and colonized by Spain, but it is the only African country where Spanish is spoken by the majority of its inhabitants.
While Equatorial Guinea itself is located on mainland Africa, part of its territory is comprised of several islands. Most unusual, its capital city Malabo, is located on the island of Bioko, not on the mainland. On both the islands and mainland, the climate is tropical, landscape is mountainous and made up of tropical rainforests and lush green vegetation.
Most Popular Equatoguinean Dishes
Staple foods of Equatorial Guinea usually include crops that grow well in the country’s tropical conditions such as cassava, bananas, yams and tropical fruit like coconuts. Since the west coast of the country is near the ocean, there is an abundance of seafood. Many dishes are accompanied by white rice which is also a staple ingredient.
There are some unusual aspects of Guinea’s gastronomy. These include the consumption of mollusks, the group of invertebrate animals which include foods like oysters, octopus and snails. Snails are a popular food which are sourced from the ocean, in forests and snail farms.
The cuisine in Guinea is influenced mostly by its ethnic groups such as the better known Bubi who are indigenous to Bioko. Other influences in the cuisine come from the neighboring countries and its colonizers, the Spaniards.
So without further ado, here are the absolute must-try traditional dishes of Equatorial Guinea along with recipes for you to try yourself.
Yetisse is a dish consisting of stewed fish. Other ingredients in the stew include vegetables such as carrots and eggplants. Typical spices used are ginger, hot peppers and chicken bouillon or stock cubes. While stock cubes are a flavoring, not a spice, they sometimes contain spices like turmeric and celery seed.
Yetisse is usually eaten for lunch and is served on white rice mixed with mashed okra. Other variations of this stew use meats like beef and chicken instead of fish.
Kansiye is another popular stew, made with lamb or beef and sometimes a combination of both meats. First the meat is browned in oil which adds color and flavor. The browned meat is stewed in a sauce made from water, peanut butter and tomato along with flavorings and cooked until tender. It is served with white rice.
The vegetarian version of Kansiye uses lentils in place of the meat.
Konkoe Ture Gbeli
Konkoe Ture Gbeli is a dish which consists of smoked catfish in a spicy sauce. The smoked fish is soaked or boiled in water to rehydrate it then it is cooked by simmering slowly with other ingredients that make the sauce such as vegetables, potatoes, palm oil and stock cubes. It is eaten with white rice.
Konkoe is smoked catfish. It is very popular in Equatorial Guine because if its flavor and due to it being smoked, the catfish does not require refrigeration.
As the name suggests, this dish is made from snails. Snail soup is really quite simple – the snails are cleaned and washed in lemon juice to get rid of the sliminess. It is then cooked with vegetables and flavorings until the snails are tender.
Bilola is a type of large sea snail eaten in Equatorial Guinea and some other West African countries. One popular method to prepare Bilola is by skewering and grilling them. Sea snails are more popular on the island of Bioko than the mainland.
Paella is a rice dish from Valencia, Spain which is also popular in Equatorial Guinea. The Guinea version of paella is usually made with chicken or guinea fowl and can be quite spicy. Guinea fowl is a type of meat bird native to Africa. Its flavor is described as similar tasting to turkey.
Other paella variations use prawns in seaside areas where they are easily sourced. Paella is prepared as celebration food.
Akwadu is a traditional breakfast of sweet bananas. The bananas which can be plantains or ripe bananas are sliced lengthwise without removing the skin. Melted butter is poured over the bananas then they are topped with orange juice, brown sugar and coconut flakes then baked.
Spices like cinnamon and nutmeg are sometimes used. Due to its similarity to caramelized bananas, outside of Guinea, Akwadu is sometimes eaten as a dessert.
Pambota is a soup made using palm kernels. The palm kernels are inside the palm fruit, from which palm oil is derived. To make Pambota, the juice is extracted from the kernel and used as the soup base. Other ingredients in the soup are onions, chilies, tomatoes and smoked fish or chicken.
Succotash is a colorful dish which consists of beans, corn and vegetables. The vegetables used vary but they usually include come combination of tomatoes, onions and bell peppers. Each item is cooked separately then combined and seasoned with ingredients like salt and pepper or herbs such as green onion. In some variations, melted butter is mixed into the succotash.
It’s widely accepted that Succotash originated from the Native Americans in Northeast America and that its popularity spread to other parts of the US such as the Southern states but how it came to Equatorial Guinea is disputed. It’s believed to have been brought back by slaves who returned to Africa after the abolishment of slavery.
Others believe that Succotash may have in fact originated from Africa and was introduced to the Southern states by slaves. Whatever its origin, today Succotash is not as popular in the Northeast as it is in the South, but more so in Equatorial Guinea where it is regarded as the national dish.
Pissoj is a traditional Annobonese yucca bread. Pieces of yucca and coconut are grated. The grated coconut it squeezed to extract its milk, then the grated yucca is combined with the coconut milk. The mixture is usually cooked in a pan over an open flame until if forms a crust.
The Annobenese is Equitorial Guinea’s Portuguese-Creole speaking ethnic group that live on the island of Annabon. Pissoj bread, also referred to as a cake is usually prepared to celebrate Christmas.