African Christmas food is as diverse and flavorful as the African continent itself. Explore the culture of a true African Christmas with us as we travel across the continent to discover delightful recipes, traditional holiday dishes, and enjoyable festive fare.
From delectable Nigerian desserts and fragrant Ethiopia stews to savoury South African meats and Tanzanian fish delicacies, there’s something for everyone on an African Christmas menu.
So put your spatula away, kick up your feet and join us in experiencing the best of this vibrant season – full of flavour-packed cuisines which bring warmth, happiness & celebration to every table.
What are Some Traditional African Foods?
Traditional Christmas meals in African countries often feature fish or poultry, starchy sides such as yams or plantains and hearty vegetable dishes. Some everyday dishes may include couscous, soups, stews, tagines, and roasted meats.
In South Africa, a traditional Christmas meal could include dishes such as Pap and Chakalaka, African beef burgers, boerewors (sausages), roast potatoes, sweet potato and butternut bake, salad, and mielie pap (maize porridge).
In eastern African countries like Kenya and Tanzania, everyday Christmas staples are ugali with fried chicken or goat meat.
What Do They Eat in Africa for Christmas?
African Christmas food is typically a mixture of African and European flavours. Some countries prepare traditional dishes on Christmas day, such as maize porridge, sweet potato pudding, shish kebab, grilled meats, or curries and couscous.
African cuisines have always been known for their rich spices, flavorful ingredients, and unique recipes. With the vibrant flavour combinations African foods provide, it’s no wonder they are enjoyed not only during the Christmas holidays but year-round!
1. Nyama Choma (East Africa)
Nyama Choma, roasted meat in Swahilli is Kenya’s official dish of barbeque roasted meat. It is a treasured national delicacy that brings family and friends together—enjoyed throughout Kenya and Uganda. It is a must-try for all visitors, from roadside stalls to elegant restaurants.
The savory goat meat feast is usually accompanied by Ugali (cornmeal) and Kachumbari (tomato-onion salad). Not even Christmas passes without a Nyama Choma roast! It is an integral part of every festive event, big or small.
2. Mombasa Pumpkin Pudding
Mombasa Pumpkin Pudding is a Kenyan dessert that is packed full of flavour. It is made with a mix of pumpkin, coconut milk, sugar, and spices such as cloves and nutmeg. Cook the pudding for around 2-3 hours until it achieves a thick consistency similar to custard. Once cooled down, the pudding can be served on its own or topped with grated coconut for extra sweetness. It’s the perfect post-meal treat for Christmas day and will satisfy everyone’s sweet tooth.
3. Tanzanian Fish Delicacies
Fish is a staple in many Tanzanian dishes, especially for festive occasions. On Christmas day, try cooking up some traditional Tanzanian fish delicacies such as kifimbo (grilled fish seasoned with herbs and spices) or samaki wa nazi (fried coconut-coated fish). Both will tantalize the taste buds and leave your guests wanting more.
4. Moroccan Couscous
Moroccan couscous is a popular traditional sweet sponge cake that can be served on special occasions such as Christmas. The traditional way of preparing involves steaming the grains over a vegetable or meat stew and coating each grain with the flavorful sauce. It’s a great accompaniment to grilled meats or fish and will delight your guests.
5. Jollof Rice – West Africa
Jollof Rice is a beloved dish found at festivals and gatherings in African countries such as Nigeria, Ghana, Senegal, and Sierra Leone in West Africa. Bursting with flavour from its combination of peppers, tomatoes, onions, and spices, Jollof Rice can be eaten alone or alongside fried plantains as well as various types of meat such as chicken, goat meat, or beef. It’s no surprise why it has become a tradition to include jollof rice on Christmas dinner tables all over; it brings families together for joyous sharing and provides an unforgettable taste experience each time!
7. Pap and Chakalaka – South Africa
Pap is similar to porridge or mashed potato in texture, an African Christmas food made from maize meal combined with water. On the other hand, Chakalaka is a spicy vegetable relish usually made up of tomatoes, onions, peppers, and curry powder. This is a beloved dish served at parties as it’s easy to prepare in large quantities – making it the perfect accompaniment for gatherings during the Christmas season!
Sosatie is a traditional South African dish consisting of cubes of meat and vegetables skewered together with bay leaves. They make sosatie from lamb, marinated in a mixture of spices, including ginger, garlic, coriander, cumin, turmeric, and other ingredients such as onions and apricots. The result is a delightful combination of sweet, salty, and spicy flavors – perfect for Christmas feasts!
10. Malva Pudding – South Africa
After feasting on a delectable Christmas lunch, what better way to end the meal than with dessert-Malva or Lekker pudding. They make this African Christmas food from apricot jam, sugar, and balsamic vinegar, creating an exceptionally scrumptious flavor. They serve this pudding hot alongside creamy custard or ice cream, making the perfect ending to any holiday meal.
11. Liberian Chicken Gravy
Liberian Chicken Gravy is an African Christmas food; a must-have on the Liberian Christmas table. It is a thick sauce with chicken, onions, and spices such as cayenne pepper, garlic, ginger, and allspice. Enjoy this dish with jollof rice or boiled plantains. You can also use it as a dipping sauce for fried meats and vegetables. The Gravy dish will bring an exotic flavor to your Christmas meal.
14. Mozambique Peri Peri Grill Chicken
Mozambique Peri Peri Grill Chicken is a favorite in Mozambique, made with chicken, herbs, spices, coconut milk, vegetables, and lemon. They marinate the chicken with a special blend of peri-peri spices that give it its unique flavor. You can adjust the heat to suit individual tastes. Serve the chicken with French fries, roasted potatoes, jollof rice, or steamed vegetables. This dish will surely bring a unique flavor to your Christmas dinner table!
16. Curried Goat Stew
Curried Goat Stew is a popular African Christmas food that is flavorful and gratifying. Made with goat, potatoes, onions, tomatoes, garlic, ginger, and curry powder, this hearty stew is a favourite at Christmas dinners throughout the continent. The flavours of the spices blend perfectly to create an unforgettable taste – best enjoyed with steamed rice or pita bread!