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Traditional Food in Burundi feat. Keke

Food and cooking are an amazing way to learn more about culture and traditions. So, today on THE SOCIAL COFFEE BLOG, Keke is going to tell us more about traditional cooking in Burundi.



Two men cooking over the fire with two big pots and stirring with long sticks


Burundi's cuisine and its societal implications

"The local cuisine is quite diverse, though it varies from urban to rural areas. In Burundi’s capital Bujumbura and other large cities, you can find many typical East African dishes, as well as international imports, some adapted to the local cuisine. On the other hand, in rural areas – where food is usually prepared over a wood fire – there is less variety as people depend almost exclusively on locally produced agricultural products. Traditional rural dishes are also enjoyed by the country's upper classes and elite, the only difference being how often they are eaten, the elite will eat a traditional dish once a week to sustain their traditional identity while the poor have no other option."

A big pot of beans being cooked over a wooden fire
Food preperations at the School Meals Program

During our conversation with Keke about food in Burundi, we realized how the role of different foods is very different in various cultural spheres.


Sweet foods and dessert

"Snacks in Burundi include groundnuts (similar to peanuts), sugar cane and fruit. However, serving deserts along with the meal is not a custom in Burundi's culture. Traditionally, the people in Burundi are not in fond of cooking sweet foods."

A metal cooking pot in a stone bowl
Inkono, a traditional cooking pot

Traditional Burundian dishes

"The people of Burundi enjoy having Ugali. Ugali is prepared by boiling cassava (maniok) flour in water and making a paste. Other common foods are plantains, sweet potatoes, cassava, peas, maize and Beans. Beans play an important role in Burundian cuisine – most people eat beans at least once a day. Most dishes include beans. You could say that beans are a food that transcends social classes."

At the end of our conversation about the role of food and traditional cooking in Burundi, we asked Keke to briefly describe some Burundian dishes and frequently used ingrediences for our readers:


Agatoki is one of the famous Burundian dishes and is based on plantain, which is a long, green banana which is popular throughout Africa and the Caribbean.

 

Renga Renga is a traditional stew similar to spinach stew but with a stronger taste. The leaves of the plant are boiled and mixed with tomatoes and green onions. To make it even more delicious, dried minced fish can be added.

 

Sweet potatoes come in many different colors and varieties in Burundi (yellow, red, white). They are consumed most frequently during the dry season as the sweet potato plant can withstand long periods of drought.

  

Ubugal is a type of stiff maize flour porridge. It is a very popular food in sub-Saharan Africa and Burundi is no exception.

 

Isombe is a very special dish because it is based on cassava leaves. It is unique to Burundi and you will not find an equivalent in terms of texture and taste anywhere else.



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