The choice of food in Burundi can appear limited at first, but the cuisine is in fact both varied and flavoursome. Most food is boiled, stewed or roasted over a wood fire. Staple ingredients include plantains, sweet potatoes, cassava, peas and maize.
Stewed beans are traditionally eaten at least once a day, while meat (mainly chicken and goat) is only rarely consumed. Close to the shores of Lake Tanganyika, fish is popular and prepared in similar ways to meat. Snacks include fruit such as bananas and pineapples, as well as cane sugar and peanuts.
Fish, drawn daily from the crystal lakes, is a staple for those who can afford it. The two most popular varieties from Tanganyika are called Ndagala (a tiny fish eaten whole) or mukéké (larger mackerel type fish). The fish are either grilled, steamed over a fresh tomato and onion sauce (recipe), or fried. Sometimes they are served with white rice and a side of spicy beans, other times they are served with French fries (a standby from Belgian occupation) or a traditional stiff porridge.
Peek under the lid of any Burundian pot, and you’ll likely find red kidney beans. Cooked simply with a little red palm oil, onion, and spicy chili powder, the nutrient rich bean becomes a delight. To avoid monotony, many Burundi mix things up by stirring in slices of sweet plantain. This completely stunning comfort food is both rich and savory.