Skip to Content

Guinea-Bissauan Cuisine: 9 Traditional Dishes of Guinea-Bissau

Guinea-Bissauan Cuisine: 9 Traditional Dishes of Guinea-Bissau

Guinea-Bissau is a country in West Africa, bordered by Senegal and Guinea, with a coastline on the Atlantic Ocean. The country was a Portuguese colony until it gained independence in 1973 and the country’s official language is still Portuguese today.

Most Popular Dishes of Guinea-Bissau

The cuisine is largely influenced by the Portuguese, from when the country was previously colonised. Many of the most popular dishes of Guinea-Bissau overlap with the most popular dishes of Portugal. For example, a popular dessert in Guinea-Bissau is Raivas which is a Portuguese pastry.

Guinea-Bissau has a long coastline with a large fishing industry; fish and seafood are therefore a staple within the cuisine. Grilled or stewed fish, lobster, shrimp, and crab are popular dishes across the country.

Cashew nuts and peanuts (groundnuts) are other major exports of Guinea-Bissau and are found in many traditional recipes, including Caldo de Mancarra, a shrimp and peanut stew.

Like in many West African countries, rice is a staple food in Guinea-Bissau. It’s often served as a side dish to sauces and stews. Jollof rice is a particularly popular rice dish which is eaten across West Africa.

Calulu (Fish Stew)

African Calulu De Peixe

Calulu is a fish stew made with okra, tomatoes, onions, and palm oil, usually served with a side of rice. In Guinea-Bissau, Grouper fish are commonly used for this dish as it is abundant in this area. Some versions of the dish may include smoked chicken instead of fish.

Calulu is eaten all year round in Guinea-Bissau, but it is particularly popular during the rainy season (June to October) when okra and tomatoes are in season.

Similar fish stew dishes can be found across West Africa, such as Zimbabwean Stewed Kapenta (Matemba).

Jollof Rice (Spiced Rice)

Jollof Rice

Jollof rice is a popular side dish in Guinea-Bissau, prepared by cooking rice, tomatoes, onions and a variety of spices together. This rice dish can be found in many countries across Africa, such as Nigeria, Ghana and Liberia.

There is debate about the most authentic way to prepare jollof rice; for example, some recipes prefer to add different combinations of seasoning and spices. Another point of contention is some recipes calling for the rice to be cooked directly in the sauce, while some par-boil the rice separately first.

Yassa Chicken (Mustard and Lemon Chicken)

Yassa Chicken

Yassa Chicken is made by marinating chicken in lemon and mustard, and grilling or slow cooking with vegetables like onions and bell peppers. This dish is usually accompanied by rice or potatoes.

The mustard and lemon in the marinade gives Yassa Chicken a tangy, slightly spicy flavor.

Egusi Soup (Ground Melon Seed Soup)

Guinea-Bissauan Cuisine: 9 Traditional Dishes of Guinea-Bissau 1

Egusi Soup is made from ground melon seeds (known as egusi), vegetables, and meat or fish. Egusi seeds are native to West Africa and give the dish its signature color and flavor.

In Guinea-Bissau Egusi Soup is served as a main meal, usually with a side of rice or bread to dip into. This soup is also a popular dish in other African countries, such as Nigeria.

Abacate Recheado Com Atum (Tuna Stuffed Avocados)

Abacate Recheado Com Atum (Tuna Stuffed Avocados)

Both avocados and tuna are easy to source in Guinea-Bissau, making these two very popular ingredients. This dish involves scooping out the avocado’s flesh and mashing it up with tuna, as well as other ingredients like coconut and lime juice. Freshly grated coconut gives this dish a more coarse texture.

Abacate Recheado Com Atum is usually served as an appetizer in Guinea-Bissau.

Caldo de Mancarra (Peanut Stew)

Caldo de Mancarra (Peanut Stew)

Caldo de Mancarra is a popular peanut stew usually made with shrimp and peanuts in a spicy sauce, served with a side of rice.

Caldo de Mancarra originated when peanuts were brought to Guinea-Bissau by Portuguese settlers. The word ‘Mancarra’ in the dish’s name is the Guinean word for peanuts.

Peanut stews are popular in many African countries, such as the Gambian dish Domoda which is made with peanuts and chicken or beef.

Fried Cassava

Fried Cassava

Cassava is a root vegetable grown in Guinea-Bissau which is boiled and then deep fried in oil until crispy, and served as a side dish or appetizer.

The fried cassava is usually sprinkled with salt and/or spices like paprika for extra flavor.

Raivas (Cinnamon Butter Cookies)

Raivas (Cinnamon Butter Cookies)

Raivas are traditional Portuguese butter cookies, made with cinnamon and lemon zest for a sweet, but fragrant flavor. These cookies have a crunchy exterior and soft, cake-like interior. Raivas are usually served with a hot drink to dunk into.

Originally from the Aveiro in the Centro Region of Portugal, Raivas were introduced to Guinea-Bissau during Portuguese colonization. Today, they are found in bakeries across Guinea-Bissau.

Palm Wine

Palm Wine

Palm wine is an alcoholic drink made from the sap of palm trees and fermenting it, the longer the drink is fermented, the more sour its flavor becomes.

Palm wine is an important drink in Guinea-Bissau and is found at traditional ceremonies and special occasions like weddings.

Share on Social: