Ivory Coast is a popular West African country with a vibrant culture and rich history. As such, the Ivory Coast food culture is an exciting aspect of the country, but it is surprisingly underrated. Keep reading for some Ivory Coast foods that’ll blow you away.
What Is Special About Ivory Coast Food?
Ivory Coast is one of a few French countries in Africa, and as such, there are many foods in Ivorian cuisine with striking similarities with French cuisine.
However, many Ivorian foods are locally sourced from food crops (cassava, plantain, peanuts) grown in the country. Also, many of their food flavors are authentic to the country as they are enhanced by local spices like ginger, garlic, and cumin.
National Food Of Ivory Coast
Fufu (Casava Dough)
Fufu is considered the national dish of the Ivory Coast, and it’s one Cote d’Ivoire food you must try on your trip to this country.
Although this Ivorian food has a similar name to foutou (pounded banana dough food), they are not the same. Fufu is a sticky dumpling made by mixing cassava and plantain flour with boiling water to create an edible dough.
This food is said to have originated in Ghana, but it’s a staple Ivorian food, also popular in several other African countries.
Fufu tastes pretty mild and is best enjoyed when paired with soup or stew with fish or meat.
Famous Traditional Ivorian Food
Attieke (Fermented Cassava)
Plantain and cassava are staple Ivorian foods used in cooking as well. Attieke is a lovely dish originating in Ghana, although you can find different variations across Africa.
It has a similar taste and appearance to the infamous couscous from northern Africa. Attieke is one of the most popular foods in the Ivory Coast, and you can find it in almost every restaurant in the country’s capital – Abidjan.
It’s a dish made from grated cassava pulp that is dried and cooked similarly to couscous. This is more of a side dish than a main dish, and it goes well with fried plantain, braised fish, or meat. You can still enjoy this delicacy even if you are vegetarian.
Ivory Coast has many unique foods, and foutou is one such dish. It originated in the country and has quietly crept into other African cuisine.
This is a swallow food made from boiled, pounded plantains or yams, but mostly plantains. It has a naturally appetizing aroma and a decent taste, so there is the temptation of eating it as a standalone food. However, it is best enjoyed with any of the numerous stews in Ivory Coast.
For a cultural experience, you should try this food the way locals eat it: molding the dough with your hand and scooping your stew. Now we are truly talking finger-licking good.
Placali (Fermented Cassava Dough)
Although the food culture in Ivory Coast has witnessed influences from the French, one of the well-known Ivory Coast facts is that the majority of the dishes stem from local crops grown in the country.
Cassava is a staple in the country, and locals have found different ways to maximize this crop’s potential. Placali is another food made from cassava. Although it is also a dough, it’s different from fufu.
After cooking, it is kept aside to cool and ferment a little. Placali has a sour flavor like sourdough bread and is popular in northern Africa. This Ivorian food is a typical lunch meal, and it goes well with Mafe (peanut butter stew) and other lovely Ivorian stews.
Fish And Meat Based Ivorian Food
Poisson En Papillote (Fish Baked In Parchment Packets)
This is one of the most exotic foods in Ivory Coast that you must try. Poisson en papillote has a rich and appealing flavor boosted by the lemon marinade and tomatoes used to prepare it. It goes well with rice, boiled plantain, and atiekke.
The fish is prepared like traditional barbeque fish in foil. Fresh fish is often preferred for this food as it tastes the best. It is a household favorite that often appears at weekend dinners and family gatherings in Ivory Coast.
However, you can also get poisson en papillote in hotels and restaurants nationwide.
Soupe Du Pecheur (Fisherman’s Soup)
Soupe de pecheur is a seafood-based soup. It is widely accepted that this dish originated in Hungary, but it has somehow worked its way into Ivorian cuisine. Today, it is popular across Europe and Africa.
If you love spicy food, then you will love this Ivorian food. Locals prepare their fisherman’s soup with hot paprika that really enhances the flavor. Ivorians like to pair their fisherman soup with attieke, although it also goes well with boiled rice or plantain as well.
Besides the regular crab and seafood, green vegetables, tomatoes, and onions are also common ingredients for this food.
Poisson Braise (Ivorian Grilled Fish)
Poisson braise is a special delicacy among Ivorian foods; locals often enjoy it after a long day at work. It is also quite commonly seen in Cameroon cuisine and in other countries across Africa and Europe.
This dish is popular in Cote D’Ivoire’s coastal regions because of the availability of fresh fish. The flavor is unrivaled, as the fish is seasoned with different local spices before grilling. Fresh chopped onions and tomatoes usually accompany it. This Cote D’Ivoire food goes well with a plate of attieke.
Poulet Piquet (Grilled Chicken)
This is a traditional street food in Ivory Coast. If you are walking on the street in Cote D’Ivoire and notice a group of people standing around a wood fire, you will most likely have stumbled on a poulet piquet spot.
This is a food loved by all Ivorians, although it is one of the more costly dishes in Ivory Coast. The smokey flavor and aromas from spices used to marinate this chicken make this food super yummy.
Poulet piquet differs from every regular grilled chicken in other countries as it is grilled to soften it so it can be easily chewed. Pair it with a bowl of alloco (Ivorian fried plantain) to enjoy.
Pain Brochette (Beef Skewers And Baguette)
Pain brochette is a popular Ivorian food inspired by the French. It’s versatile food for breakfast, midnight meals, and midday snacks.
Pain brochette is essentially a sandwich of skewers (meat roasted on a stick) on a baguette (long dough bread). The skewer is the main component here. The spices used to marinate the meat before grilling determine how flavorful and enjoyable the food is.
Other vegetables like lettuce, onions, and tomatoes are added to make the dish healthier. You can find this food sold on the streets of Ivory Coast. Make sure to try it when you travel to the country.
Soups, Stews, And Sauces In Ivorian Cuisine
Kedjenou (Chicken And Vegetable Stew)
Kedjenou is a traditional Ivorian stew originating in the central region of the country. It has since spread across all regions to become a staple in Ivorian cuisine.
This chicken and vegetable stew is typically cooked in a Canari (Ivorian local clay pot) over low heat. It is cooked without an additional water as the veggies and chicken simmer in their own juices.
This food is very flavorful and aromatic due to the many local spices and ingredients added. The recipe differs from region to region, and banana leaves are used to seal the canari while cooking to add extra flavor.
Mafe (Peanut Butter Stew)
Mafe is the poster boy of all soupy foods in Ivory Coast. It is a stew loved by locals and visitors. Mafe originated in Mali, but you will find different variations of this food across Africa.
It is a stew made with peanuts as the main component, although ingredients like tomato and onions are also key in this food. Other ingredients like vegetables, okra, corn, and carrots are also added, although it is region dependent.
You can enjoy this stew with rice or fufu. Because of ingredients like ginger and cumin, this food offers an amazing soul-soothing aroma.
Djoumble (Dried Okra Stew)
If you are a fan of okra, then djoumble is the stew for you. This delicacy is not made from your traditional fresh okra, but rather from chopped okra that is dried and ground to powder.
Djoumble is a versatile food in Ivory Coast, and this dish does not have a fixed recipe. It is customized to suit the person eating it.
If you want to be adventurous on your trip to this country, try djoumble. You can add meat and fish if you like. Djoumble goes well with main dishes like rice, yam, placali, and foutou.
Sauce Kope (Fresh Okra Sauce)
Sauce kope is a traditional sauce in Ivory Coast, made from “kope,” which means okra. This sauce is garnished with crab, snails, beef, or fish.
This soup is often spicy and flavorful because of chili peppers and the many condiments accompanying the food. But it’s worth noting the lesser the ingredient, the more neutral the flavor.
You can enjoy sauce kope alone, but it is much better when paired with fufu or placali. This Ivorian food is definitely one you should try on your next trip to the country.
Sokossoko De Boeuf (Beef Sauce)
This is a special beef-based Ivorian food, and it offers a unique option to regular sauces. Sokossoko is a beef sauce prepared with tomatoes and onions.
This is one dish in Ivory Coast that travelers love. Although it’s not vegan-friendly, it’s an exciting meal for meat lovers.
Sokossoko is more commonly seen during ceremonies, although you can get it in restaurants nationwide. It is a simple dish with a nice flavor and aroma due to the beef and seasonings used to prepare this food.
Locals pair their sokossoko with attieke, rice, or potatoes.
Akpessi (Fish And Eggplant Stew)
A popular food in Ivory Coast, akpessi perfectly blends vegetables and fish to create an amazing delicacy. This dish is popular throughout West Africa, so the origin is unclear, but there’s no denying that the Cote D’Ivoire version is top-notch.
Akpessi is made from palm oil, eggplants, plantain, and fish (smoked herrings are most preferred). There are other variations of this food depending on the region of the country.
This healthy porridge offers a delicious aroma and taste as well as a filling meal, making it a good choice for breakfast in Ivory Coast. This is particularly a good dish for anyone who wants a break from meat-based food.
Snacks, Light Dishes, And Street Food Of Ivory Coast
Arachide Sucre/Grille (Roasted Peanut)
This is a cherished snack in Cote D’Ivoire. Peanuts are staple foods in Ivory Coast, and you can find them throughout the country’s cuisine.
Roasted peanut is called arachide grille, while peanut coated with caramelized sugar is called arachide sucre. You can enjoy roasted peanuts with grilled plantain and snack on them during your evening walks in the countryside.
Garba (Cassava And Tuna)
Garba is the ultimate street food in Ivory Coast, and it combines attieke and fried tuna to perfection. This dish is garnished with fresh tomatoes, onions, and the oil used for frying the tuna to give this Ivorian food added flavor.
Garba has amazing taste and lovely aroma. It is best enjoyed with your hands, and your trip to Ivory Coast will be incomplete without having a plate.
This dish has a beautiful story; it has been a staple in the country since the early 90s. Interestingly this food was not started by an Ivorian. It was innovated by a Nigerian man who was attending school in the country.
The food was named after him, “Garba.” He mixed one of the popular foods in the Ivory Coast, attieke, with tuna and this delicious creation soon became a go-to street food in Ivorian cuisine.
Alloco (Ivorian Fried Plantain)
This Ivorian food is made from plantain chopped into little bits, then deep-fried in oil until crisp. The origin is a mystery, as it is popular all over Africa, Southeast Asia, and the Americas; countries where there is an abundance of bananas.
Although this food can be oily, it compensates with its yumminess. Because of its sweet and creamy nature, it makes for a good alternative to French fries, and the best part is they are softer and easy to chew.
Locals love to eat alloco as a late-night snack, mostly accompanied by grilled chicken.
Banane Braise (Grilled Bananas)
Plantain is a staple food in Ivory Coast, so there are many dishes made from plantain in Ivorian cuisine. Banane braise is one cherished snack across the country, and it’s basically grilled plantain. In other African countries, it’s called boli.
The origin of this food is a mystery, but it’s one to try for sure. It is a cheap street food in Cote d’Ivoire that you won’t be able to get enough of. After grilling, the plantain turns brown, and locals mostly eat banane braise with roasted groundnut (peanut).
Desserts, Pastries, And Sweet Foods In Ivory Coast
Merveilles (Orange-Flavored Cookies)
Parties in Ivory Coast are often considered incomplete without Merveilles, such is its significance in the Ivorian food catalog.
This is one traditional dish inspired by the French, and it has striking similarities with a certain cookie from France. Made from flour, baking powder, and sugar, the standout ingredient is the orange zest that gives this delicious cookie its flavor.
Merveille se combines crispness, sweetness, and orange flavor to perfection. This food originated in Ivory Coast during the French colonial era and has remained an integral part of Ivorian cuisine.
Gbofloto (Sweet Fritters)
This is a popular snack in Africa and is better known as puff-puff in other countries like Nigeria and Ghana.
Gbofloto is a special food in Ivory Coast, and they treat it as more than just a snack. It’s a staple breakfast meal in the Ivorian cuisine. This food is made from flour, sugar, egg, butter, and yeast.
Puff-puff has a nice flavor and goes well with local Ivorian sauce or berry (strawberry or raspberry) dips. The batter formed is deep-fried in oil until it assumes a golden-brown color. You can enjoy this Ivorian food with tea, milk, or fruit juice.
Iconic Drinks In Ivory Coast
Tchapalo (Millet Beer)
Tchapalo is a traditional drink in Ivory Coast cuisine and a popular alcoholic beverage across Africa.
This is the best natural drink in this country, made locally with malted millet and local spices depending on the region.
With its distinct flavor, Tchapalohas become a celebratory drink in Ivory Coast. This drink is common during weddings, naming ceremonies (birth), funerals, traditional dances, etc.
Ivorians drink tchapalo from Calabash, an interesting gourd container. It is also customary to pour a little of your millet beer on the ground before drinking to show respect for their ancestors.
Bangui (Palm Wine)
Bangui is an iconic drink in Ivory Coast and has been an integral part of Ivorian foods for many decades.
This drink has two versions: alcoholic and nonalcoholic. It’s a popular beverage across Africa, South America, the Caribbean, and Asia. Bangui is made from palm tree sap, like date palms or coconut palms.
When the drink is extracted fresh from the sap, it’s a very sweet beverage (nonalcoholic); but when it is allowed to ferment, it becomes alcoholic. Bangui is a staple drink in various ceremonies in Ivory Coast. Locals claim that mixing Bangui with medicinal herbs is an effective remedy for physical discomfort.
Try a cup of Bangui on your trip to Ivory Coast, this drink’s natural flavor and rich creaminess make it simply tasty.
Degue (Wheat Or Millet Milk)
Degue is a milk-like beverage in Ivory Coast, and this drink is sourced from millet or wheat. At first glance, it resembles yogurt because of its texture and appearance.
This Ivorian food originated in the country and is a traditional dessert enjoyed in Ivory Coast. Honey or sugar is added for extra sweetness.
It has a nice flavor like the Asian desserts sago or oat smoothies. You can find degue in any restaurant in Ivory Coast.
Bissap (Roselle Juice)
Bissap or roselle juice is a refreshing beverage in Ivory Coast. It is also popular across the Caribbean and Africa, albeit, with different names. For instance, in Nigeria, it’s called zobo.
This beverage is made from flowers of roselle, a variety of hibiscus. It is often flavored with local spices like ginger to give it a special aroma, although other fruit can be added to boost the flavor.
Bissap is reddish-purple and often has a natural grapey, cranberry taste. It can be served hot or cold. When served cold, it’s considered juice, but when served hot, it’s considered tea.
It has a strong flavor but is not too sweet. Sugar is added to sweeten it. There’s no better feeling than gulping a bottle of chilled bissap after experiencing a sunny day in the Ivory Coast.
FLAVORS AROUND THE WORLD
Discovering Traditional Foods In Ivory Coast
The culinary culture of Ivory Coast is a delicious dance of flavors, woven with history, tradition, and the warm spirit of its people. For food explorers, Ivorian foods are an exciting project to embark on.
The country’s cuisine has not witnessed heavy influences, making it a country where you can delve deep into authentic African food culture.
From savory street snacks to delectable desserts, and those iconic drinks, each scrumptious bite and blissful sip tells a story of its own.