Cameroon is a West African country with French Heritage. The nation has a very beautiful geographic makeup, and as such, there are many famous landmarks in Cameroon. But while Cameroon is well-known for its impressive national football team and native music styles like Makossa and BIkutsi, Cameroon food goes unnoticed.
Although some of the dishes in Cameroon cuisine have embraced culinary influences from the French, there are many unique and traditional fare in Cameroon too.
What’s Special About Cameroon Food?
Many traditional foods in Cameroon are simple, fresh and locally sourced. But it is important to note that due to the influence of the French, most Cameroonian fare is similar to a lot of the dishes you’ll find in France.
Crops, such as cassava, sorghum, millet, corn, and vegetables like potatoes, peanuts and spinach are staples in Cameroonian cuisine. Local herbs and condiments like cumin, turmeric, ginger and garlic are also ever present in the country’s menu.
National Dish Of Cameroon
Ndole (Bitter Leaves Stew)
This is one of the most famous fare in the country, with many even considering it the national dish of Cameroon. This item is commonplace during ceremonies nationwide.
It is one of the many foods that can trace its origins to Cameroon. Ndole is native to the Duala people, as they were the first to bring it to life.
Primarily, ndole is a vegetable stew made from “ndole” (bitter leaf), a popular vegetable across Africa. Crayfish, garlic, local spices and bouillon cubes are some of the staple ingredients of this stew.
There are different variations across the country. Coastal regions mix ndole with peanut, while other regions mix it with spinach. Regardless of the version you try on your trip to Cameroon, you will surely enjoy a flavorful and aromatic stew.
Famous Traditional Cameroon Foods
Ekwang (Cocoyam Stew)
A well-known Cameroonian dish originating in the country’s southwest region, ekwang packs a punch of nutrients. It has become a staple in every region of Cameroon and its neighboring countries. This food is especially popular in Nigeria among the Efik and Ibibio people.
Ekwang is made from cocoyam grated and wrapped in different greens (spinach, cocoyam leaves, collard greens or sweet, bitter leaves). It is then boiled with palm oil and a variety of meat and fish like crayfish and smoked fish. The crayfish and other spices enhance the flavor and aroma of the stew.
Jollof rice is a well-known Cameroon food that originated in Senegal. Jollof rice is so famous that it is eaten across West Africa.
It’s a one-pot dish of rice and vegetables cooked in a flavorful tomato sauce, so it’s great for vegetarians. This dish has different varieties, so there is no standard way of cooking it.
But the Cameroonian version of jollof rice uses tomatoes, onions and chili as a base. Locals like adding red peppers for a spicy kick and smoked paprika as well. It is typically cooked over an open wood fire.
Main Dishes In Cameroonian Foods
Ndomba (Spicy Papillote)
Ndomba is a very versatile food in Cameroonian cuisine. It’s a spicy papillote that can have pork, chicken or fish as a base ingredient.
The spices used to make the dish can also vary depending on the type of ndomba you want. Many ingredients, such as false nutmeg, onion, white pepper, garlic and cumin, are used to create the flavorful and healthy fare.
Poulet DG (Chicken And Plantain Stew)
Poulet DG is a traditional Cameroon food reserved for special occasions, although you can enjoy it all year round at restaurants nationwide.
This delicious item originated in Cameroon, but it was influenced by French colonials. Poulet DG is a chicken-based dish with plantain and vegetables as the other main ingredients.
It perfectly blends the sweetness of ripe plantain and the richness of the vegetables. As such, Poulet DG is one of the best Cameroon foods to go for if you’re looking for a delicious dish to try.
Fufu (Cassava And Plantain Dough)
This traditional Cameroon food is enjoyed across West and Central Africa. Fufu has different variations across the continent, but the primary ingredient (cassava) remains the same. The Cameroonian version consists of cassava and plantain, while the Nigerian and Beninese versions only contain cassava.
Like most swallow food, fufu is prepared by mixing the flour (cassava and plantain) with boiling water until it becomes thick. This dish tastes bland and only goes well with traditional Cameroonian stews and soups like eru soup and yellow stew.
You can also pair fufu with meat and fish. For the best experience, do as the locals do: Mold it with your hands.
Kati Kati (African Grilled Chicken)
Kati kati is a food native to Cameroon. It is considered one of the oldest and most unique dishes in the country’s northern province.
Like soya (skewered meat), kati kati is prepared by marinating chicken with different veggies and local spices to enhance its flavor. Then the chicken is roasted over an open flame.
Traditional Cameroon Sauce, Stews And Soups
Eru Soup (Cameroon Vegetable Soup)
Eru is the name of the creeping plant Gnetum africanum. It’s an ever-present vegetable native to West and Central African woods. Eru is especially popular among the Bayangi people, who claim they were the first to bring this soup to life.
This traditional Cameroon food starts with eru leaves cooked with spinach or waterleaf. The soup is then garnished with delightful proteins and aromatics. To enjoy eru in a healthy, gluten-free way, look for eru soup made with little oil.
A beloved way of eating eru soup is with fufu (cassava and plantain dough). You’ll find this pair being sold in restaurants, local food vendors, and markets nationwide. Ask around for a Mami Eru (pidgin for mother) and you’ll be directed to a woman selling this delectable combo.
Kondre (Plantain And Meat Stew)
Kondre originated from the western region of Cameroon. It’s a one-pot dish of plantain, meat, tomato sauce, onions and dried spices.
The food is cooked for a few hours to make the meat soft and tender. This results in a delicious stew that satisfies your taste buds and stomach at the same time.
Achu And Yellow Soup (Pounded Cocoyam and Yellow Soup)
This Cameroon food features a savory yellow soup. Unfortunately, this delicacy is not vegetarian-friendly as it is made from beef or chicken broth. Palm oil and different spices are added to it to enhance the flavor, but the standout ingredient is limestone.
This food originated in the northwest region of Cameroon and has become a staple across the country. The soup is often paired with achu (pounded cocoyam).
Locals enjoy this dish with their hands. To enjoy the full African experience, you should try achu and yellow soup like the locals.
Njama Njama (Huckleberry Stew)
Njama njama is a famous traditional stew made from the garden huckleberry plant in Cameroon. It is a staple stew in the cuisine of many West African countries.
Although njama njama is rich and flavorful, it often isn’t consumed alone. To best enjoy this stew, pair it with fufu (cassava and plantain dough). It also goes well with boiled plantain or banana.
One thing to note about this delicious Cameroon food is that it can be seasonal. Huckleberries are difficult to find during the dry season and become a bit pricey during that time of year. But you can enjoy it in many restaurants across the country on your trip to Cameroon.
Sauce D’Arachide (Cameroon Groundnut Soup)
Groundnut (peanut) stew is very popular across West Africa. There are suggestions that this sumptuous delicacy originated in Mali, where it is better known as mafé. It is one of the best traditional foods in Cameroon to try.
Across the nation, this dish has different versions depending on the region. In the southern and central parts of the country, sauce d’arachide is often cooked with minimal ingredients. The list can be long in other regions.
This stew has a nice flavor enhanced by bifaga (local smoked fish) or chicken and condiments like ginger and garlic. This soup is versatile as it goes well with different foods like boiled rice, plantain and achu (pounded cocoyam).
Mbongo Tchobi (Cameroon Black Stew)
This is one traditional Cameroon food that is rather odd. Mbongo is a tasty and well-flavored soup, but the appearance doesn’t match the taste.
Mbongo is a spicy black stew native to the Bassa people of Cameroon. This dish doesn’t have an appealing look. But what it lacks in aesthetics, it makes up for in deliciousness.
Besides the fish it’s cooked with, the main ingredient of the stew is the bongo spice, which gave the food its name. Mbongo is best enjoyed when paired with main dishes like boiled cocoyam, yam or plantain.
Snacks, Light Dishes And Street Food in Cameroon
Soya (Skewered Meat)
This is one of the most famous street foods in Cameroon. The Hausa people have been making soya since they created it many, many years ago. They have kept the secret and passed it down through generations.
Soya is a dish mainly made from beef, although other proteins, like goat meat, can also be used. The meat is marinated and threaded on skewers before being grilled. The secret of a good soya is the mix of ground dried pepper and local spices that accompanies it.
Beignets Haricots (Puff Puff And Beans)
Cameroon is famous for many of its French-inspired foods. Beignets haricots is one of the most popular. Many even consider it among the best street food in Cameroon.
Beignets is French for puff puffs. These are flour doughnuts deep-fried in oil until they’re golden brown. The beans are also fried with local Cameroonian spices, which gives them a distinct flavor.
The combination results in a special soul- and palate-soothing dish. Beignets haricots is often accompanied by pap (corn pudding).
Sanga (Mashed Cassava Leaves)
Sanga is a simple Cameroonian food made from pounded cassava leaves. It is a staple meal across the country. The recipe originated from the southern and central regions of Cameroon.
Beyond the cassava leaves, this tasty dish contains palm nut juice and fresh corn. Although some people prefer to enjoy their sanga with sugar, the fresh corn and vegetables have a natural sweetness.
Desserts And Sweet Foods In Cameroon
Kwacoco Bible (Cocoyam Pudding)
This is a staple food in Cameroon, especially among the Bakweri people. It is popular in the southwestern region of the country.
This dish is made with grated cocoyam mixed with different vegetables, palm oil, smoked fish and various spices. The mixture is then wrapped in plantain leaves and cooked until tender.
Kwacoco Bible is common in many tropical countries, as they have good soil for farming cocoyam.
Pomme Pile (Mashed Potatoes And Beans)
Among the facts about Cameroon is this: The country boasts a robust agricultural sector and, as such, produces most of its crops in-house. In the northwest and western regions, beans and potatoes are staple foods. Pomme Pile or Banso Tukuni was born out of this abundance.
This sweet and tasty dish can get a little addictive. It starts with beans and potatoes boiled until tender, adding onions and bouillon cubes for more flavor. The resulting mashed and molded dessert easily melts in the mouth.
Soft Akara Banana (African Banana Fritters)
Akara banana is a popular food across Africa, with different variations depending on the region. It is one of the most beloved Cameroon desserts. Akara is made from mashed bananas and all-purpose flour, sugar and nutmeg.Sprinkled with powdered sugar, akara banana is typically crunchy on the outside and chewy on the inside. It’s a good Cameroonian food for brunch, with a cup of coffee or a glass of juice or milk.
FLAVORS AROUND THE WORLD
Discovering Traditional Foods In Cameroon
Cameroon has a very vibrant and energetic culinary culture, knitted with the country’s history and tradition. Cameroon foods cover everyone regardless of dietary preferences. Cameroonian cuisine has something for you.
For travelers and explorers, the culinary scene in Cameroon offers an exciting journey. From stews to street foods and snacks, there is much to savor.