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

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

The Republic of the Congo, often referred to as Congo-Brazzaville to distinguish it from its neighbor, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, is located in the heart of Central Africa.

The Republic of the Congo has a history that dates back thousands of years, with indigenous groups like the Bantu people inhabiting the region for hundreds of years.

In the late 19th century, the country came under French rule and later gained independence in 1960, a number of popular cooking techniques and Congolese dishes were heavily influenced by French culture.

Most Popular Dishes From the Republic of Congo

Common staple ingredients in Congolese cuisine include cassava, plantains, yams, rice, and a variety of leafy greens. Popular protein sources range from poultry, beef, and fish to bushmeat like antelope.

The Congo River is an abundant source of freshwater fish, therefore many Congolese dishes incorporate fish as a main ingredient. Markets often sell fresh, ready-to-eat fish that have been boiled, cooked over a flame, or salted.

Palm oil, peanuts, and spices such as chili peppers and ginger are frequently used to flavor dishes.

Congolese meals are communal affairs, with communal bowls and sharing of food between friends and family. In many parts of the country, hands are used to eat instead of utensils.

Here are the most traditional dishes of the Republic of the Congo, along with recipes to try for yourself.



Fufu is a starchy dough-like side dish made from cassava, plantains, or yams. It’s often served with various sauces, stews, or soups and acts as a hearty accompaniment to many Congolese meals.

Fufu is generally eaten with the hands and used to scoop up other foods, it can be purchased at restaurants and street food stalls, and is also commonly prepared at home. This dish is popular across West Africa, although it varies slightly between regions.

Poulet Nyembwe (Palm Oil Chicken)

moambe chicken

Poulet Nyembwe is a chicken dish cooked in palm nut oil and peanut butter. The chicken is simmered until tender in its flavorful sauce, often served with rice or fufu. This dish is considered the national dish of the Republic of the Congo.

Nyembwe translates to ‘palm oil’ or ‘palm butter’ in the Myene language and refers to the way that the chicken is cooked. The palm oil gives this dish its signature orange-red appearance.

Saka Saka (Cassava Leaves)

Saka Saka

Saka Saka is a dish made from cassava leaves cooked with fish or meat, commonly served with rice or cassava. There are also vegetarian versions of saka saka made with vegetables.

‘Saka saka’ is the Congolese word for cassava. To prepare this dish, the leaves are boiled and pounded into a paste, before being cooked with onion, garlic, palm oil, and peanut butter.

Mafé (Peanut Stew)


Mafé is a peanut sauce-based dish, often prepared with beef or chicken. This stew is commonly served with rice or foufou and has a rich and savory flavor profile.

In Nigeria, this dish is called Groundnut Stew, and in Gambia, it’s referred to as Domoda.

Liboke (Meat or Fish in a Banana Leaf)


Liboke dishes are cooked in banana leaves, typically made with fish, chicken, or vegetables. They are marinated with spices, wrapped in a banana leaf and steamed, infusing the ingredients with a unique, fragrant taste.

Fish Liboke is often made with catfish, as these are readily available in the Republic of the Congo. The fish is wrapped in a banana leaf and can either be grilled or steamed until it’s cooked.

This cooking technique is popular in various parts of Africa, as well as parts of Asia and Central America.

Makayabu (Salted Fish)


Makayabu is salted fish, usually tilapia or catfish, which is rehydrated and cooked in a spiced sauce, often served with vegetables.

Salting fish for preservation has been popular for centuries, all over the world. Similar dishes to Makayabu include Spanish Basque Bacalao a la Vizcaina and Caribbean Saltfish.

Sorrel Soup

Sorrel Soup

Sorrel soup is a green soup made from sorrel leaves, palm oil, peanuts, and spices, resulting in a nutritious and hearty meal. Sorrel leaves are mildly acidic, so this soup has a mildly sour taste.

This soup is eaten in several African countries, and is also popular in parts of Europe, including France and Poland.

Brochettes (Skewered Meat)


Brochettes are skewers of grilled meat, such as lamb, beef, goat, or chicken, often served with a spicy peanut or chili sauce. This recipe was introduced to the Republic of the Congo by the French; the meat is marinated and grilled over a flame.

Brochettes can be found at markets and street food stalls across the Republic of the Congo, usually enjoyed as a snack. This dish closely resembles the Turkish kebab.

Lituma (Baked Plantain)

Lituma is a classic Northeastern Congolese snack made from plantains which are mashed, shaped into balls and baked. These crispy plantain balls are a popular street food and are often eaten with fish or added to stews.

Lituma has a dough-like texture and can be eaten in a similar way to fufu; it does not have a strong taste and usually is not seasoned. In some parts of the Republic of the Congo, Lituma is made with sweet potatoes.

Makemba (Fried Plantain)


In the Republic of the Congo, Makemba is made by slicing ripe plantains and frying them in oil until golden-brown and crispy. These can be covered with salt and spices and served as an appetizer, side dish, or snack.

In the River Region of the Republic of the Congo, Makemba is also made with sugar and enjoyed as a sweet treat or dessert.

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