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Malian Cuisine: 10 Traditional Foods of Mali

Malian Cuisine: 10 Traditional Foods of Mali

Mali is a landlocked country of western Africa which lies on the southern edge of the Sahara desert. Despite being one of the largest countries of Africa, it has a relatively small population, which is majorly centred along the Niger River.

The country boasts of a very rich culture, which is demonstrated through its incredible cuisine. Malian dishes vary from region to region and are quite similar to that of the western Africa. 

The staple ingredients of the Malian diet include rice, sorghum and millet that are cooked in a variety of different ways. Many dishes of Mali use sauces and grains as their major components, where sauce is the key for enhancing the flavour, grains are the foundation of the meal.

For drinking, there is a great range of traditional fresh fruit juices including banana and mango as the majority of Malian population is Muslim and so they prefer to drink fruit juices to alcohol.

Popular Dishes of Mali

Here we take a look at some popular dishes of Malian cuisine which are guaranteed to give you the complete Malian experience!

Tiguadege Na

Tiguadege Na

Tiguadege Na is the national dish of Mali that is prepared with lamb or chicken. The word ‘Tiguadege Na’ basically means ‘meat in peanut butter sauce’. 

This peanut butter stew is extremely delicious and rich in texture. Large chunks of potatoes and carrots are added to enhance the flavour of this amazing dish. Although making this dish is time consuming, the final product is definitely worth the wait.

La Capitaine Sangha

La Capitaine sangha

La Capitaine Sangha is another one of Mali’s signature dishes. It is prepared with Nile perch fish and is served with whole fried bananas, rice and hot chilli sauce. 

Nile perch has a moist and medium-firm texture and is mild flavoured. The raw fillets of Nile perch are pinkish in colour but once cooked, they give a snow-white appearance.

Poulet Yassa

Poulet yassa

Poulet Yassa is a scrumptious West African comfort food. This mouth-watering dish is made with chicken that is marinated in the mixture of onion-lemon-vinegar.

The chicken is then cooked down into a completely delectable sweet, spicy and lemony sauce with lots and lots of caramelized onions and the resultant dish is super amazing. 

It is served hot with plain, white rice that soaks up all the delicious sauce.


Labadja consists of a mixture of minced meat and boiled rice in a butter sauce. This dish is traditionally eaten on festivals such as Eid. The meat of the animals that are sacrificed during this festival, is then used to prepare this flavorful dish.



Couscous is a type of pasta that is made from tiny steamed balls of semolina flour. It is one of the fastest, easiest and most versatile side dishes that can be made. It goes wonderfully with stews and saucy main courses.

Jollof Rice

Jollof Rice

Jollof rice is a famous rice dish that has various regional variations in its ingredients as well as its name. It’s also widely popular in Nigeria.

This dish is prepared with long-grain rice, onions, tomatoes, vegetables, meat and spices. All these ingredients are cooked together in a single pot. 


Fakoye or Fakoye sauce is a dish that originates from northern Mali. It is prepared from the leaves of corete or mloukhiya. 

This sauce is made black by cooking it on high flame. It is then served majorly with mutton and rice.



Djablani, simply called ‘the Malian ginger juice’ is a popular and refreshing drink more commonly drunk in West Africa. This drink is amazing as it cuts the heaviness of fried creamy foods. 

Ginger, lemon and refreshing mint leaves are the major ingredients of this revitalizing drink. If this drink gets too spicy with ginger then more water can be added.


Bouille is a classic dessert of Malian cuisine. The word ‘Bouille’ means ‘burnt milk tart’. 

The traditional tart consists of a thick, sugar cookie-like crust that is centred with a silky-custard filling. Very simple ingredients are used for making this sweet delight including milk, eggs, butter, sugar, and vanilla.

Malian Tea

Malian Tea

Malian tea is a sweetened, concentrated brew that is majorly served in tiny glasses in 3 bursts. The first serving of tea is said to be like ‘death’ as it is a bit bitter and strong.

The second serving is called ‘life’ as it starts getting sweeter. The last and final serving is called ‘love’. Drinking tea in Mali is a time to relax and socialize.

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