Sierra Leone is a beautiful West African country that is often overlooked. This country is known for having some breathtaking beaches on the continent, but beyond the coast, there are some amazing foods in Sierra Leone waiting to be discovered.
What Is Special About Sierra Leone Food?
Sierra Lone is one of the few African countries that has stayed true to its gastronomy. Most of the country’s cuisine consists of crops grown in the country.
Although Sierra Leone foods are carbohydrate dominant, they balance nutrients with various soups, fish, and meat. Yam, cassava, and other root vegetables like potatoes are stable in Sierra Leonean cuisine.
Although some of the food in Sierra Leone’s cuisine didn’t originate from the country, they have a special way of preparing all their foods. The cultural food scene is one of the most exciting facts about Sierra Leone.
Most Famous Foods In Sierra Leone
This is a Sierra Leone food popular in many African countries. Many have claimed this food originated from Senegal, while others claim it is from Ghana and Nigeria. However, the origin hardly matters when the taste just blows your mind; you can enjoy this amazing food in Sierra Leone.
Jollof rice is a one-pot rice dish famous for its spiciness and rich flavor. It is made with a staple base ingredient of tomato sauce, curry, thyme, and meat stock. You can enjoy this as a vegetarian or non-vegetarian option with just a little tweak.
To make this dish, you boil your rice for a few minutes. Fry your tomato sauce with all your seasoning and spices for 3 to 5 minutes. Then pour your steamed rice into the mix and allow it to cook well. You can enjoy your jollof rice with fish, meat, and salad. It’s a must-try food in Sierra Leone.
Sierra Leone Food – Main Dishes And Staples
This is another Sierra Leone food popular in other African countries. Agidi, also known as eko, is a corn flour base pudding. It is predominantly bland in taste, so people don’t usually eat it by itself.
Instead, you can enjoy agidi with delicious soups, fished based stew, or pepper chicken. The spice and flavor of the accompanying soup or side dish make it more delicious.
Agidi is soft and moist, often steamed in a banana leaf. It comes in little packets and is consumed as a side dish rather than a main dish.
Pepper chicken is a widely common food in Sierra Leone, often enjoyed with other staples. You will find this delicacy at every party or gathering in the country. Some even claim a Sierra Leonean party is incomplete without pepper chicken.
Interestingly this is one of the easiest dishes to make in Sierra Leone cuisine. To make pepper chicken, all you need is chicken, peanut butter, pepper, tomato puree, and onions (optional).
To prepare this Sierra Leone dish, you first season your chicken with pepper, after which you can add other ingredients as you grill it. For the real Sierra Leonen feel, grill over hot charcoal.
Pemahun (Potato Leaf One Pot)
Pemahun is a healthy dish from Sierra Leone cuisine. It is a simple one-pot steamed rice dish, but the rice is not the secret. Rather it lies in the main ingredients of the dish – sweet potato leaves, garden eggs, and okra.
You can further enjoy this dish with fish, beef, chicken, and your choice of condiment. Fried fish is more popular in the country because of its proximity to the sea.
To prepare, you steam the rice together with the garden egg from the start., When it is almost cooked, add your potato leaves and okra, which tend to soften fast. You can add other necessary ingredients, allow it to cook well, and enjoy your pemahun.
Fufu is famous in tropical Africa and goes by Foofoo in other countries. Depending on the location, the preparation method for this food differs. In Sierra Leone, fufu is made with fermented cassava.
The cassava is soaked and pounded with mortar and pestle, then strained to drain every moisture content. It is allowed to ferment for a couple of days before being cooked into a thick wet paste. It’s stirred and rolled into moldable balls you can eat with any soup of your choice.
Fufu can be a little sour, but this nice dough goes well with a variety of African dishes such as plasas and groundnut stew.
Sierra Leone Food – Light Dishes, Snacks, And Street Food
Krinkrindand Fish Balls
Krinkrindand fish balls are a popular street food in Sierra Leone. It’s safe to call it a Sierra Leone snack, as many locals consider it a treat between meals. These fish balls are synonymous with celebrations in the country.
Krinkrindand fish balls are made by mixing boneless fish and other delicious ingredients like potatoes, coriander, pepper, onions, and garlic. You mash them well until properly mixed, then deep fry them in oil.
No specific fish is designated for this Sierra Leone food; the fish used mostly depends on the availability and the chef’s choice. You can regularly find fish balls sold on the streets of Sierra Leone.
Oleleh (Black-Eyed Beans Pudding)
This is a widespread food in Sierra Leone. It’s also famous in other African countries, albeit with a different name, “Moi Moi.” Oleleh is a Sierra Leonean pudding made with black-eyed beans. It is a prevalent street food in the country.
To prepare oleleh, deshell your black-eyed beans and blend them with pepper and onions; it will turn out watery. Then add other seasonings and protein like fish, meat, or egg.
You can now pour the mix inside a thin nylon or wrap it in leaves (banana leaves). Then you cook until it thickens and attains a form of consistency. Locals like to enjoy it with bread, custard, or garri (cassava flakes).
This is a term used to refer to every fried street food in Sierra Leone. Don’t be surprised when you walk on the street and hear fry fry, but you see different Sierra Lene food being sold.
Some of the food called fry in Sierra Leone include bean cakes (akara), French fries, fried plantain, fried chicken, and gari cake (cassava flakes cake). Going to a fry fry vendor is a convenient way to enjoy many street foods in Sierra Leone.
Soups And Stews In Sierra Leone Food
Ockra Stew (Okra Soup)
This is one of the most famous soups in Sierra Leone food. It’s popular in many West African countries, and it has been adopted all over the world. The exact origin is unknown, but it is suggested to have come from a West African country.
To make this stew, you will need to have your based tomato stew made with palm oil; when it is fried to a certain degree, you can add your chopped okra and allow it to cook well. Add smoked fish, meat (beef or chicken), and fish (boiled or fried). You can make the stew with only okra, or further add any vegetable of your choice.
Yebe Stew (Cassava Stew)
Yebe is a Sierra Leone food made with various root vegetables like cassava, plantains, yam, and potatoes. This healthy stew is made by boiling the vegetables and adding palm oil, seasoning, pepper, and even protein like fish or chicken. The vegetables are allowed to cook and soften so that their starch content can be broken down, which thickens the stew.
It’s an extremely filling version for a meal, particularly if you pair it with other staple foods like fufu or rice.
This is a sumptuous meat and vegetable soup cooked in groundnut (peanut) sauce. You can use fresh and dry groundnut to make this soup. The stew is relatively healthy and not too sweet.
The meat is semi-fried and then removed from the oil. Other ingredients like vegetables and potatoes are cooked in peanut sauce. Then the meat, often chicken, is added to the stew and allowed to cook until tender.
Groundnut soup is often enjoyed with fufu or rice; maybe even bread. Essentially anything that lets you soak up that aromatic soup works great.
Palsas refers to not a specific dish or recipe but rather covers certain types of soups that are common in Sierra Leonean foods. Plasas is a stew or sauce made from any green, either spinach, collard green, kale, or potato leaves.
This green is accompanied by meat, fish, and peanut butter, mostly for flavor and thickening purposes. You can enjoy all sorts of plasas with boiled rice for a filling meal.
Cassava Leaf Stew
Cassava leaf stew is a protein-heavy stew in Sierra Leone food. It has lots of meat, crayfish, fish, and peanut butter ingrained in it. That said, the dish is like a burst of flavor contributed by the diverse range of ingredients.
To prepare, season your meat and cook for a few minutes. Take the meat out of the pot and use the broth to cook your crayfish, fish, and vegetables (cassava leaves), and add any seasoning of your choice.
Peanut butter, palm oil, and chili pepper are all typical ingredients that are used. After cooking for a few minutes, add your already-boiled meat and allow it to cook. You can enjoy this tasty stew with rice.
Sweets, Desserts, And Pastries In Sierra Leone Food
Sierra Leone Coconut Cake
Beyond the main course dishes, Sierra Leone desserts are also enjoyed in the country. Coconut cake is a well-loved treat in Sierra Leone.
This delicacy is made with fresh coconuts, and the results look like a cookie. It’s a simple sweet you can prepare yourself. All you need is coconut, flour, sugar, salt, water, and coconut oil.
Grate your coconut, add flour, sugar, salt, and oil, not simultaneously, but one at a time. When it is well mixed, add water and knead the dough. You can put in a foil and tray and bake until it turns brown. Before baking, you cut into your desired shape, usually squares in Sierra Leone.
Benny And Peanut Cake
These two sweet snacks are similar but different simply because the main base ingredient differs. Benny cake is made with sesame seeds, while peanut cake is made with peanuts. But they are sweets enjoyed by all in Sierra Leone.
Peanut cake is similar to peanut brittle and is peanutty and sticky, while benny cake is sweet and nutty. Beyond the base, sugar, and milk are added to make it richer.
FLAVORS AROUND THE WORLD
Discovering Traditional Food In Sierra Leone
Although it is not commonly mentioned, Sierra Leone has some of the best cuisines in Western Africa. If you are a food lover and love to keep your food simple, this is one place to look at.
Beyond the country’s culinary tradition, the Sierra Leone food scene has evolved and adopted some of its neighboring countries’ gastronomy. Vegetables, fish, and meat are ever present in Sierra Leonean foods.