Vegan Food Guide to Congo Brazzaville
Guide to Vegan Food in Congo BrazzavilleGuide to Vegan Food in Congo Brazzaville

What to Eat as a Vegan within the Congo (Brazzaville)

What’s the meals in Congo Brazzaville like?

The delicacies of the Republic of the Congo (also referred to as Congo Brazzaville) is just like the delicacies of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (also referred to as Congo Kinshasa). 

This isn’t too stunning, contemplating that the international locations are neighbors, separated solely by the Congo River. The truth is, Brazzaville and Kinshasa are the 2 closest capitals on the planet, except you depend Rome and the Vatican.

For a radical description of vegan meals within the DRC, take a look at this visitor submit written by Kinshasa native Moise Ngwesi.

This text, nevertheless, will deal with Congolese meals within the Republic of the Congo and is predicated on my expertise in Brazzaville in February 2020. Many of those identical Congolese meals are most likely additionally accessible throughout the river in Kinshasa.

Is Congolese Meals Vegan-Pleasant?

A plate full of typical Congolese foods that happen to be veganA plate full of typical Congolese foods that happen to be vegan

A plate filled with typical Congolese meals that occur to be vegan

The Congo is properly off the crushed monitor on the subject of not solely vegan foodie journey however even journey typically.

The ideas of vegetarianism and veganism are usually not extensively understood within the Congo, and there are not any solely vegan or vegetarian eating places in Brazzaville. Though Pointe-Noire, the second-largest metropolis within the nation, does have a Loving Hut department!

Native Congolese eating places normally embrace a rooster, fish or another animal in all their foremost dishes, in order a vegan traveler you might be restricted to the aspect dishes in these institutions. In my expertise, this goes for the small, casual locations referred to as nganda eating places in addition to fancier Congolese eating places like Les Rapides.

And whereas which may not sound thrilling, a few of these aspect dishes are really delicious! Within the subsequent part, I’ll introduce some widespread Congolese meals which can be by the way vegan. Whereas most of those are seen as snacks or accompaniments relatively than foremost dishes, you’ll be able to simply mix them to make a full meal.

After that, I’ll advocate a few of my favourite eating places in Brazzaville, together with each Congolese eating places and others serving ethnic meals like Indian and Lebanese

Fashionable Congolese Dishes

Cassava and Different Starches

Cassava in the form of chikwangeCassava in the form of chikwange

Cassava within the type of chikwange

The only most essential staple meals within the Congo is cassava. It’s not really native to Africa however was launched by the Portuguese within the 17th century, who introduced it from Brazil to Africa to feed the slaves they captured there.

A number of frequent foodstuffs are ready from cassava, the most typical of which is chikwange, or bâtons de manioc in French. It’s typically described in English as a “cassava cake”, nevertheless it’s undoubtedly not a dessert, so should you’re anticipating it to style candy you’ll be upset.

The truth is, chikwange doesn’t have a lot of a style in any respect. However then once more, you can say the identical factor about plain rice or plain pasta. It’s meant to be eaten together with different, extra flavorful meals.

In markets, you’ll see chikwange wrapped in leaves. When it’s served in a restaurant, although, it’s normally unwrapped by that time. That is the most typical accompaniment and infrequently comes freed from cost with any foremost dish on the menu.

One other solution to eat cassava is by mixing it with water and pounding it in a big mortar and pestle to create a sort of paste. Within the Congo, this paste is called “fufu”, though it goes by many different names in numerous components of Africa.

Cassava isn’t the one starchy vegetable used to make fufu; it may also be constructed from corn, plantains, or different tubers like igname (“yam” in English) or macabo (“cocoyam” in English).

Bananas and Plantains

Fried plantainsFried plantains

Fried plantains, a preferred and scrumptious aspect dish within the Congo.

Banana timber give fruit all 12 months spherical, making them one other dependable staple meals within the Congo. They find yourself in each candy and savory concoctions, relying on the kind of banana used. 

Whereas the smaller ones are fairly candy, the bigger ones with green-tinted peels are a lot starchier. These are typically referred to as “cooking bananas” in English or “bananes plantaines” in French.

When fried, nevertheless, they develop into caramelized and nonetheless style fairly candy. One other, considerably more healthy method of cooking them is by steaming them. You’ll see each fried (bananes frites) and steamed (bananes à la vapeur) listed as aspect dishes on restaurant menus.

And for a snack, you’ll typically see them sliced, fried and bought on the road as banana chips. Select which dimension container you need the seller to replenish with banana chips, and she or he will pour that quantity right into a newspaper cone so that you can take away. 

Leafy Inexperienced Greens

Follong - vegetable eaten in the CongoFollong - vegetable eaten in the Congo

Follong is one in all many leafy inexperienced greens eaten within the Congo.

Darkish, leafy inexperienced greens are eaten at seemingly each meal within the Congo. The truth is, should you see a “vegetable” part on a restaurant menu, it’s prone to include nothing however leafy inexperienced greens.

These are surprisingly tasty, as they’re typically cooked with peanut butter or regionally produced palm oil. However watch out, as they might even be cooked with fish or meat, or at the very least with fish or meat broth.

Sadly, this appears to be particularly frequent when cooking saka-saka, the preferred vegetable dish within the Congo. 

Saka-Saka
Saka-saka served with riceSaka-saka served with rice

Saka-saka served with rice at Les Rapides.

Saka-saka is constructed from the leaves of the cassava plant, very similar to matapa in Mozambique.

I used to be advised by a Brazzaville native that in Kinshasa it is extra frequent to search out pure veggie variations of saka-saka, however in Brazzaville it normally incorporates fish. One of many plates of saka-saka I ate undoubtedly was made with seafood broth, as I discovered a part of a crustacean shell in it.

As a vegan or vegetarian, all you are able to do is ask the restaurant employees to substantiate the components and hope for the very best. Errors like this do typically occur when touring as a vegan, and it’s greatest to not let your self get too hung up on it.

Oseille
Oseille - Congolese dishOseille - Congolese dish

Oseille is constructed from the leaves of the roselle plant, a sort of hibiscus.

That is my absolute favourite of the leafy greens within the Congo, and my mouth is watering simply eager about it. It’s constructed from the leaves of the roselle plant, which is a species of hibiscus.

The leaves are such a darkish colour that the dish hardly appears inexperienced in any respect. Extra like a darkish brown. Which is probably not too appetizing to have a look at, nevertheless it tastes scrumptious! 

In contrast to another leafy greens, oseille isn’t bitter in any respect. I may fortunately reside on a weight loss plan of oseille and fried plantains, and I ordered this mixture greater than as soon as when consuming out in Brazzaville.

Different greens that you simply’ll discover on the menu at native Congolese eating places embrace follong and ndolè. Follong is just a little bitter for my style, and I most likely wouldn’t order it once more. 

Understand that all of those inexperienced vegetable dishes are normally served as an accompaniment to meat-based dishes, so make it clear when ordering that you do not need any meat or fish.

Peanuts

Peanuts in the Congolese marketPeanuts in the Congolese market

Peanuts in a Congolese market

Peanuts are in every single place within the Congo. They’re generally eaten as a snack, and so they may also be made right into a sauce that’s eaten with a wide range of dishes.

If you happen to’re ingesting at an area bar or restaurant, peanut sellers might come to your desk and provide their wares. Peanuts do pair properly with a chilly Savanna cider, however remember that those nonetheless within the shell style totally different than what you’re most likely used to.

Once you crack them open, the pores and skin on the skin of every peanut is whitish in colour, and so they have a softish, virtually juicy texture. I’m unsure why that is, however I’m guessing they’re simply not roasted for very lengthy.

If you happen to purchase them shelled, although, they are going to be absolutely roasted, and they’re going to really feel and style how you’ll count on them to.

Safou

Safou, or the African pearSafou, or the African pear

Safou, also referred to as the African pear

I’d by no means tasted and even heard of safou earlier than visiting the Congo, so biting into one in all these was fairly a revelation. I really mistook them for small purple potatoes, however upon the primary chunk it turned apparent that this was one thing completely totally different.

Safou have a creamy texture on the within, just a little bit like an avocado. The colour of their flesh is even an avocado-like inexperienced, however the style is sort of totally different. It’s citrusy and a bit tart. Within the center there’s a big pit, which you shouldn’t eat.

Understand that it’s important to boil safou earlier than consuming them, as they aren’t edible when uncooked. However you might even see cooked ones bought on sticks as a road meals snack for about 50 francs every.

Maboké

MabokéMaboké

Maboké bought at a roadside stall close to the Djoué River.

This can be a widespread dish to take alongside on picnics and different outings, because it’s wrapped in banana leaves or different wild leaves, making it straightforward to hold. The truth is, the title “maboké” really means “package deal” in Lingala. 

I don’t converse Lingala, however from what I perceive, the singular type of the phrase is “liboké” and the plural is “maboké”. The components are cooked contained in the leaves over an open flame, which burns the leaves and offers the meals a barely smoky taste. 

Later, when it’s able to eat, the leaves rework from the pot by which to cook dinner the meals to the plate on which to eat it. Just about something may be cooked on this method, and apparently veggie variations of maboké do exist. These are known as “maboké ya ndounda”, however sadly I by no means got here throughout one. If you happen to discover it, please let me know within the feedback under!

You’ll see girls promoting these leaf-wrapped packages throughout the port and at roadside stalls. You could possibly even say that maboké is the nationwide dish of the Congo.

Though some folks say that award ought to go to moambé, a sauce constructed from palm nuts that’s normally eaten with some sort of meat. In any case, maboké is definitely an emblematic a part of Congolese delicacies.

Beignets

Beignets à la bananeBeignets à la banane

Beignets à la banane on the Poto Poto market

That is one other road meals snack and is nice for while you’re craving one thing candy. Beignet is the French phrase for doughnut, so we’re mainly speaking about fried dough.

Within the Congo, beignets come within the form of small, spherical balls, so actually they’re extra like doughnut holes than doughnuts. You might also see them known as “mikate” right here, whereas in different African international locations they go by many various names, resembling ligemat, bofloto and puff-puff.

Typically eggs or butter are added to the dough, so examine to make certain, however the fundamental recipe simply requires flour, yeast, sugar and salt. After frying, the balls are then rolled in sugar. A yummy variation is beignets à la banane, by which mashed bananas are blended into the dough.

They’re greatest when served piping scorching! Search for them at Marché Poto Poto.

Fashionable Drinks within the Congo

Baobab juice, known as jus de bouyeBaobab juice, known as jus de bouye

Baobab juice, referred to as jus de bouye

Juices are fairly widespread within the Congo, together with some that you simply’ve most likely by no means tried earlier than. Ever tasted baobab juice? 

Right here, it’s referred to as jus de bouye. The consistency is sort of thick and creamy, so it feels extra like ingesting a smoothie than a juice. You could find it bought by small native retailers and street-side distributors.

One other favourite of mine is bissap, which is constructed from a sort of hibiscus flower known as roselle. Sound acquainted? That’s as a result of it’s the identical plant that’s used to make my favourite leafy inexperienced vegetable dish, oseille!

Oseille is constructed from the leaves of the plant, whereas bissap is constructed from the flowers. In the identical method that each the roots and the leaves of the cassava plant are used to make two totally different dishes (chikwange and saka-saka) which can be each staples in Congolese delicacies.

One factor to bear in mind is that the Congolese appear to confer with all delicate drinks typically as juice. So, within the juice part of restaurant menus you may discover Coke, Sprite and Fanta along with precise juice.

Conversely, not the whole lot within the “beer” part of the menu is definitely beer. Savanna is normally listed right here, despite the fact that it’s really a cider. Ngok, Primus and Mutzig are widespread manufacturers of beer within the Congo.

The place to Eat in Brazzaville

Mami Wata

Mami Wata restaurant in BrazzavilleMami Wata restaurant in Brazzaville

Mami Wata restaurant is a well-liked hangout in Brazzaville.

This widespread restaurant has a first-rate location, sitting on the banks of the Congo river in downtown Brazzaville. The views of Kinshasa on the alternative financial institution are unparalleled. 

For that reason, it’s additionally one of many dearer locations on the town, so count on to pay about the identical for a foremost dish as you’ll in a pleasant restaurant in a Western European nation. A vegetarian pizza goes for 9,500 francs, which is about 15 euros.

That being stated, the aspect dishes provide a lot better worth and embrace a number of vegan choices. Or alternatively you can come right here only for one in all their refreshing fruity cocktails. Each alcohol and virgin varieties are provided.

La Tomate

La Tomate restaurant BrazzavilleLa Tomate restaurant Brazzaville

La Tomate restaurant in Brazzaville serves dishes from the Congo, Cameroon and different African international locations.

This hole-in-the-wall restaurant is an efficient place to attempt genuine, residence cooked African meals, together with Congolese in addition to Western and Central African dishes from close by international locations. 

At first look, the menu doesn’t appear very vegan-friendly, as even the dishes within the “greens” part all include some kind of meat or fish. However it is perhaps price calling forward (+242 06 861 3020) or popping in to ask what vegan dishes they’ll put together with some advance discover. 

The menu features a separate part with dishes that should be ordered forward of time. Amongst these are sautéed white beans (haricots blancs) and mbongo tchobi, a Cameroonian stew famend for its darkish black colour.

Each are usually served with fish or meat, but when ordering prematurely you can most likely ask for it to be not noted. If you happen to simply present up unannounced, as I did, you can order from among the many aspect dishes or ask for one of many vegetable dishes (follong, ndolè or saka-saka) with out meat or fish. 

Facet dishes embrace cassava fufu, corn fufu, steamed or fried plantains, and root crops recognized regionally as igname (yam) and macabo (cocoyam). Simply be ready for lots of the dishes to be unavailable on any given day.

Hippocampe

Bun nem at Hippocampe in BrazzavilleBun nem at Hippocampe in Brazzaville

Bun nem at Hippocampe, veganized by changing the spring rolls with summer season rolls

That is an upmarket restaurant run by a really pleasant and useful chap who speaks wonderful English in addition to French.

The menu is predominantly Vietnamese but in addition contains Congolese and Italian dishes. If you happen to’re craving tofu, it is a good place to return. 

Their signature dish is bun nem, and the vegetarian model of it’s served with tofu. Bun nem is a lightweight and refreshing bowl of rice noodles and contemporary herbs, topped with spring rolls and grilled tofu.

Sadly, the fried spring rolls they usually use comprise a small quantity of egg, however you’ll be able to ask for contemporary summer season rolls as an alternative.

Résidence Hôtelière de Moungali

Dinner at Résidence Hôtelière de MoungaliDinner at Résidence Hôtelière de Moungali

Dinner of oseille, fried plantains and a spinach dish at Résidence Hôtelière de Moungali

Whereas I’m unsure it’s price going out of your solution to eat at this resort restaurant, since I stayed right here for eight nights I ended up consuming right here a number of instances.

Vegan choices are just about restricted to spaghetti with tomato sauce or aspect dishes. However the aspect dishes right here have been a few of the most scrumptious issues I ate throughout my time within the Congo! Fried plantains and oseille is a profitable mixture.

And should you’re a visitor on the resort, breakfast is generally omelettes, however the employees will put together a plate of contemporary fruit as an alternative on request. Most days this was pineapple and banana, though sooner or later I used to be served apples and fervour fruit.

They’ll even carry it straight to your room should you ask, which is best than ready within the eating space, as service may be sluggish.

Les Rapides

Multi-level seating with views over the rapids at Les Rapides.Multi-level seating with views over the rapids at Les Rapides.

Multi-level seating with views over the rapids at Les Rapides.

This can be a very massive, open-air bar and restaurant with multi-level seating looking over the rapids the place the Djoué flows into the Congo River. It was fairly quiet once I visited mid-week, however I get the sensation that it will get fairly busy on the weekends.

There are a number of promising choices for vegans on the menu, and I received excited once I noticed brochettes de légumes (vegetable skewers) written on the each day specials board. However in the long run, many of the gadgets I had my eye on have been unavailable, so I needed to accept saka-saka with rice. 

When washed down with a chilly Savanna cider, it was not dangerous in any respect. The truth is, I’m constantly amazed at how scrumptious leafy inexperienced greens may be in Africa.

River Appart (L’Hôtel Rose)

River Appart, also known as "L’Hôtel Rose"River Appart, also known as "L’Hôtel Rose"

River Appart, also referred to as “L’Hôtel Rose”

This stylish resort and restaurant sits in between Les Rapides and Bantu Seashore, with a eating space that overhangs the Djoué River. It’s official title is River Appart, however locals name it L’Hôtel Rose, which implies “the pink resort” in French. A fast have a look at the colour scheme will clarify this nickname.

Whereas I didn’t have the possibility to eat right here myself, I did take a minute to speak with the employees and take a look at the menu. As standard in Brazzaville, many of the menu gadgets have been meat-focused, however the employees made it clear that they have been completely satisfied to accommodate vegans and vegetarians. 

They provided a number of ideas, together with a soup, salad and mushroom burger. Nothing that sounded thoughts blowing, however I might fortunately give this place a attempt for the nice ambiance and pleasant vibes, 

Chicha Café

Drinking cocktails out of a pineappleDrinking cocktails out of a pineapple

Consuming cocktails out of a pineapple on a Brazzaville rooftop.

In order for you a calming, open-air ambiance like Les Rapides or River Appart however in a extra centrally situated space, the coated rooftop terrace at Chicha Café is an efficient choice. Because the title signifies, you’ll be able to smoke flavored tobacco from a shisha right here (a water pipe, or “chicha” in French).

In addition they serve some fruity cocktails, and for just a little further they’ll even pour it right into a hollowed-out pineapple, with the pineapple slices served on the aspect.

As for the meals, it’s primarily Center Japanese, which implies loads of vegan choices. Along with frequent dishes like falafel, hummus and tabbouleh, there are a number of you is perhaps much less acquainted with. 

Batata harra, for instance, is a Lebanese fried potato dish with crimson peppers, coriander, chili, and garlic, whereas moutabal is an eggplant-based unfold just like baba ghanoush.

Jaipur

Veg tawa at Jaipur Indian restaurantVeg tawa at Jaipur Indian restaurant

Scrumptious veg tawa at Jaipur Indian restaurant

This stylish Indian restaurant serves mouth-watering meals and has numerous marked vegetarian choices on the menu. Since dairy is utilized in plenty of them, you’ll must ask which of them may be made vegan.

On my server’s suggestion, I ordered the veg tawa, which was wonderful. Regardless of touring all throughout India and consuming in numerous Indian eating places all over the world, I’d in some way by no means heard of this dish earlier than.

Upon later analysis, I realized {that a} tawa is a flat, spherical frying pan utilized in India in a lot the identical method as a wok is utilized in Asia. For this dish, a wide range of greens blended with ginger, garlic, onion, tomato and spices are cooked within the tawa.

It was truthfully one of the scrumptious Indian meals I’ve ever had! Neither the naan nor the chapati at Jaipur are vegan, however the tandoori roti is and makes a pleasant accompaniment to one in all their curry dishes.

La Mandarine

Lebanese foodLebanese food

Lebanese meals at La Mandarine

This place is primarily recognized in Brazzaville for its truffles and different baked items. It additionally serves meals, although, and is a well-liked nighttime hangout.

For vegans, the Lebanese part of the menu affords probably the most choices. A colleague and I shared three Lebanese dishes (hummus, moutabal and falafel), which price 4,00zero francs every and have been moderately massive parts.

Different presumably vegan dishes on this part embrace tabbouleh, fattoush, fuul, stuffed vine leaves and hummus balila. I’d by no means heard of the latter, and since we weren’t positive if it contained meat we didn’t order it.

Later, I discovered that hummus balila is made with the identical components as the standard hummus, plus cumin. The principle distinction is that it’s served heat and that the chickpeas are evenly mashed relatively than blitzed right into a purée.

If Lebanese isn’t your type, different choices embrace penne all’arrabbiata, a vegetarian pizza, a vegetarian burger, and the standard starchy aspect dishes like plantains, potatoes and fufu.

Edmund Resort

Take the elevator to the highest of this resort, the place you’ll discover a tremendous three-floor terrace with spectacular views out over town.

I wasn’t anticipating a lot once I ordered a vegetarian pizza with no cheese right here, however I used to be pleasantly shocked! It got here completely full of vegetable toppings and loads of tomato sauce. Sadly, the lighting was so dim that there was no method I may snap a photograph.

Different potential vegan choices are the home made veggie spring rolls and veggie samosas. I didn’t ask about these although, so examine along with your server earlier than ordering.

As is frequent in Congolese eating places, the vegetable part of the menu consists solely of cooked leafy inexperienced greens. On this case, it’s saka-saka, oseille and one thing known as légume verte (actually “inexperienced vegetable”).

The place to Store in Brazzaville

Marché Whole

Stalls selling vegetables at Marché TotalStalls selling vegetables at Marché Total

Stalls promoting greens at Marché Whole

That is the mom of all markets in Brazzaville, and the ambiance right here generally is a bit intense and chaotic when it’s actually crowded. I like to recommend coming at the very least as soon as for the expertise, nevertheless it’s not the place I might select to do my weekly procuring if I lived in Brazzaville.

You could find just about something you need right here, together with contemporary fruit, greens, dried beans, and so forth. However there’s no rhyme or purpose to the place the stalls are arrange, so that you’ll must wander aimlessly till you discover what you’re on the lookout for.

Marché Poto Poto

Avocados in the CongoAvocados in the Congo

Avocados being bought for 100 francs (about 17 US cents) in Marché Poto Poto

This can be a smaller, extra manageable model of Marché Whole, with a West African twist. The full of life neighborhood of Poto Poto is residence to many immigrants from Senegal, Mali and different West African international locations. 

In among the many mixture of clothes and homegoods stalls you’ll discover contemporary produce, together with avocados at grime low-cost costs. You might also come throughout some cooked meals bought as snacks, resembling banana doughnuts or safou on a stick.

Géant On line casino

Géant Casino BrazzavilleGéant Casino Brazzaville

The Brazzaville chain of the French hypermarket Géant On line casino

Sure, this French hypermarket chain really has a department in downtown Brazzaville. If you happen to’ve been in Africa for some time and are craving a few of your favourite snacks from again residence, that is the place to return. Simply be ready for costs to be a lot larger than in Europe, since the whole lot is imported.


Questioning what else there’s to do in Brazzaville moreover eat? Quite a bit, really. Take a look at my prime 20 issues to do in Brazzaville.

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