Burundi is an East African country known for its hospitality and good coffee. An unfortunate fact about Burundi is that it is one of the poorest countries in the world. This might make you assume that Burundi foods are nothing special, but they do have some of the best traditional dishes on the African continent.
What Is Special About Burundi Food?
Many Burundi foods are fresh and locally sourced. Due to the country’s economic situation, the locals leverage all their fertile lands to cultivate most of the food crops they need.
As such, grain plays a vital role in Burundi food culture. Millet, sorghum, and maize are some of the staple food crops in Burundian cuisine. Local spices like ginger, onion, and garlic are also ever present in Burundi foods. Both vegetarians and meat lovers have amazing options that will keep your mouths watering.
National Dish Of Burundi
Boko Boko Harees (Chicken With Bulgar Wheat)
Boko boko harees is a traditional Burundi food that originated in the country. It’s a simple but rich and flavorful meat-based dish.
Because of its simplicity and nutritional value, many consider boko boko harees the national dish of Burundi. This Burundian food is made by cooking chicken with ingredients like turmeric, bulgar wheat, and onion.
If you are looking for hearty meat-based options on your trip to Burundi, this is one dish you should definitely try.
Popular Traditional Foods In Burundi
Ubugali is one of the most popular foods in Burundi. This is largely also because it is very versatile while filling at the same time. Essentially, it can serve as the carb for any meal. I
The origin of this food is unclear, but it is popular in the Sub-Saharan region of Africa. Similar to other doughy foods in neighboring countries like DRC (Democratic Republic of Congo) and Rwanda, ubugali is primarily made from maize or cassava flour. However, other grains like sorghum and millet can be used as well.
Ubugali is a simple dish made with water and flour only; as such, it has a bland taste, and shouldn’t be eaten by itself.
For the best enjoyment, pair it with any of the different stews and soups in Burundian cuisine. If you are a meat lover, you can also accompany your ubugali with a serving of beef.
You will find that beans are a common staple in many developing countries, and Burundi is no exception. This is because they are satisfying, nutritious, and also good for storing.
Ibiharage is a regular Burundi food and one loved by locals both young and old. A satisfying serving of beans often brings the family together. On average, the locals consume ibiharage at least once per day.
As such, this is one of the traditional Burundian foods to try if you want to feel the local culture. This simple dish is made by cooking black-eyed beans over low heat for about one to two hours. Ingredients like palm oil, garlic, pepper, and salt are added to give the food a rich flavor.
Uburobe (Pounded Cassava)
Uburobe is a traditional Burundi food made from dried and pounded cassava. The powder is used to prepare a dough similar to that of West African fufu. However, unlike fufu, uburobe is often wrapped in banana leaves and can be stored for over a month without refrigerating.
Uburobe has a very nice flavor and can be eaten alone, but it is often paired with mukeke (fish snack), meat soup, beans, and even avocado, in some cases.
Uburobe is one of the cheapest Burundi foods, and you can find it in every restaurant and food stall nationwide.
Beans And Bananas
Beans are one of the most cherished foods in Burundi, and you can find them in abundance throughout several dishes in the country.
The Burundians’ love for beans and the availability of bananas led to this sumptuous delicacy’s innovation. This food is a perfect combination of sweet and savory. You can just imagine how filling this dish is with a mix of two foods that are known for providing energy.
Locals often accompany this dish with Burundi bread (slaw and chapati). If you are looking for something sweet and flavorful to eat on your trip to Burundi, then this is just the combination for you.
Traditional Burundi Soup, Sauce And Stew
Renga Renga (Potato Leaf And Peanut Stew)
Renga renga is possibly the most popular Burundian stew. It is also considered one of the national dishes of Burundi. When you visit any Burundian household, one of the first stews you’ll likely be served is none other than renga renga.
This stew is similar to spinach stew but has a stronger flavor. It is made from cooked potato leaves mixed with peanuts and other ingredients like onions, black pepper, and palm oil.
It’s a good stew option for vegetarians, but if you love meat, you can also enjoy renga renga with meat. This stew is superb for pairing with main dishes like ubugali.
Isombe (Cassava Leaves Stew)
Isombe is widely popular in Central East Africa and is often more associated with Rwanda than any other country. However, isombe is also a common food in Burundi.
This stew is made from cassava leaves, chopped, pounded, and cooked with other ingredients like garlic, white onions, and salt to enrich its flavor. The dish is enjoyed with rice and beans, among other foods. You can also pair it with uburobe and ubugali.
Marahagwe (Beans Soup)
This is another rich stew in Burundi that vegetarians will love. While it is primarily made with beans and vegetables, you can find many different variations across Africa.
That said, few alternatives beat the marahagwe in Burundian cuisine. The bean is cooked with allspice, garlic cloves, coconut milk, greens (cabbage or spinach), and tomatoes for a rich, satisfying taste. This Burundi food is a must-try on your trip.
Snacks, Light Dishes, And Street Food In Burundi
Mukeke (Lake Fish)
Mukeke was once considered the ultimate Burundian street food. This dish is especially loved by children and one that locals and visitors enjoy feasting on. However, due to rising demand and rarity, it has become more expensive over time.
In Burundi, it is made from a special lake fish called mukeke. The fish can only be found in Lake Tanganyika.
Mukeke is now considered a luxurious traditional food. This fish can be enjoyed in different forms: boiled, roasted, grilled, or fried. There is absolutely no judgment from us if you decide to try them all!
Indagala (Tiny Fish)
Another popular light dish in Burundian cuisine is Indagala. This fish is also found in the Lake Tanganyika area. It is mostly consumed as a side dish rather than a main dish.
The fish is usually deep-fried in oil to make it crispy. It has a unique flavor, which is enhanced by adding vinegar, lemon, and white onions. This Burundian food is simple yet nutritious, serving as a source of iron and protein for locals.
Matura And Mahu
This delicacy originated in Burundi and has crossed over to neighboring countries like Congo and Tanzania.
Matura and mahu is a special sausage and a favorite food among locals. It is prepared with meat, blood, and local spices. Onions and garlic are usually added to boost the flavor.
Locals believe the food is rich in calcium, which is good for the bones. It is one Burundi food you should be sure to try on your travels.
FLAVORS AROUND THE WORLD
Discovering Traditional Foods In Burundi
Looking for a culinary journey on the African continent, Burundi food provides an action-packed experience that will leave you wanting more.
With a wide range of fish, meat, and vegetable-based dishes in Burundi cuisine, there are plenty of great dishes to help you enjoy the authentic African food experience.