Togo is a small West African country with a rich cultural heritage that is reflected in its vibrant and diverse cuisine. Located on the Gulf of Guinea, Togo shares borders with Ghana to the west, Benin to the east, and Burkina Faso to the north.
This unique location has resulted in a fusion of culinary traditions, blending local ingredients with influences from neighboring countries.
Togolese dishes are characterized by its bold flavors and spices, as well as its use of a variety of meats, vegetables, and grains.
It is also known for its generous use of chili peppers, which add a spicy kick to many dishes. The cuisine is typically divided into two categories: coastal and inland.
Coastal dishes feature seafood and are heavily influenced by French cuisine, while inland dishes are more focused on meat and starchy vegetables.
In this article, we’ll take a closer look at 15 popular Togolese dishes that are must-try for any food lover. From spicy stews to grilled meats, Togolese cuisine is sure to tantalize your taste buds and leave you craving more.
Whether you’re a seasoned traveller or simply looking to expand your culinary horizons, these Togolese dishes are sure to delight your taste buds and leave you with a newfound appreciation for the delicious cuisine of Togo.
So, sit back, relax, and join us on a culinary journey through the flavors of Togolese dishes.
- Gboma Dessi
- Groundnut Soup
- Deku Dessi (Palm Fruit Soup)
- Koklo Meme
Fufu is a beloved staple dish in Togo, made from pounded yam, cassava, or plantain paste. Traditionally, this involved pounding the ingredients in a mortar, but with the introduction of the Foufoumix, a Togolese invention, many have abandoned the traditional method.
Fufu is commonly served with a clear or peanut sauce, along with fish, beef, or chicken, and is considered to be the most iconic Togolese dish.
Whether enjoyed as a family meal or a street food, fufu can be found all across Togo, served with a variety of different sauces to suit different tastes.
So, if you’re looking to truly immerse yourself in Togolese dishes, be sure to try some authentic fufu and enjoy the unique flavors and traditions of this vibrant West African country.
Akoume is a beloved dish in Togo, and it forms the foundation of the country’s culinary culture. This dish is highly valued and appreciated by the Togolese people.
The dough used in Akoume can be made in two different ways. It can either be prepared using millet and corn, similar to the Burkinabe dish Tô, or it can be made from soaked fermented flour (émakoume).
Typically, Akoume is served with a variety of sauces such as adémè, gboma, ébéssési, and dékoudessi.
These sauces are known for their unique flavors and ingredients and can be customized to suit different tastes.
As a result, Akoume is a versatile dish that can be enjoyed in many different ways. Overall, Akoume is an integral part of Togolese dishes, and it is a must-try for anyone looking to experience the authentic flavors of this West African country.
Ablo, a popular Togolese dish, is made from fermented corn flour that is steamed and formed into small pancakes. Ablo is typically served with a variety of vegetable sauces, each with its unique blend of spices and flavors.
Overall, this dish is a delicious and essential part of Togolese cuisine, and it’s definitely worth trying if you’re looking to explore the diverse and vibrant flavors of West Africa.
Also read: 15 Mauritian Dishes You Need To Try
Togolese people enjoy a popular daily meal of rice and beans cooked together, which is served on a single large plate with tomato sauce on top.
However, those who are sensitive to spicy food should be cautious, as the dish may contain pepper.
5. Gboma Dessi
If you have the opportunity, be sure to try gboma dessi – a delicious spinach-based sauce that is a must-try when visiting Togo.
This popular dish is usually served with seafood, smoked fish, or shrimp in a tomato-based sauce, but can also be enjoyed with beef.
6. Groundnut Soup
Groundnut soup is a popular dish in Togo that utilizes groundnut, also known as peanut, which is a staple crop. The soup is made by using groundnut paste, which serves as the main ingredient and primary flavor.
Uziza seeds, also known as Piper Guineense, and bitter leaf are added to the soup to give it a pungent and slightly bitter taste.
Fresh ginger is also included, along with other ingredients such as onion, tomatoes, eggplant, and okra, which complement the flavors. The soup is left to simmer and infuse, resulting in a rich and potent blend of flavors.
Djenkoumé is a customary corn dough in which the corn is roasted and mixed with tomato, garlic, ginger, and the native red palm oil.
Grilled chicken is usually served with it. The dough has a dense texture and is also known as cornmeal cake.
Yassa is a popular dish in Togo that originated from Senegal. It’s a spicy and flavorful meal that is commonly found in restaurants throughout the country.
Yassa consists of marinated chicken (or fish) topped with caramelized onions, with a zesty sauce made from lemon juice and a hot variety of chili pepper.
To prepare the dish, the chicken and onions are marinated with lemon juice and mustard, then browned in a pan to retain their juices.
The mixture is then transferred to a pot with whole chilies and baked until the chicken is tender and falls off the bone, and the onions are sweet. Yassa is usually served with rice.
Kom is a distinctive Togolese dish that requires a particular cooking method and is known for its spicy flavor.
The corn flour used to make kom must be cooked with steam, and a Togolese blend of tomatoes, onions, and pepper is added. The dish is often served with fried fish and is highly regarded for its taste.
10. Deku Dessi (Palm Fruit Soup)
Palm fruit soup, also known as “deku dessi” in the ewe language of Togo, is a well-liked African soup with variations in its recipe and preparation based on the region, culture, family, and personal preference.
The soup is made from the juice extracted from pounded palm fruit, which is first cooked until the outer skins are tender.
The fruits are then pounded in a special mortar to extract the juice, which is then used to make a paste for the soup. The fibrous part left after straining is either discarded or dried for use as a fire starter, while the nuts can be eaten as a snack or used to make palm kernel oil. Palm fruit soup is commonly served with rice, fufu, gari, banku, or ablo.
Brochettes, which are similar to kebabs, are a popular street food in Togo and can also be found on the menus of restaurants throughout the country.
The French name of this food points to its origins, and it consists of meat or fish pieces skewered on metal sticks and grilled over hot coals.
Typically, red meats like mutton, beef, or goat are used due to their natural fats, which make them tender and juicy. Pork is less common because of the country’s Muslim population.
Onion chunks may be added to the skewers, and they are often topped with chili powder or hot sauce for added flavor. Despite being an inexpensive street food, brochettes are considered a delicious and satisfying dish.
Pinon is a well-known dish in Togo that is primarily made using cassava flour, also known as gari. This flavorful dish is a combination of various spices such as ginger, bay leaves, garlic, pepper, and onion.
Depending on the recipe, pinon can be prepared as a white or red dish if tomatoes are included. The cooked gari is then combined with boiled meat, which is usually either goat or pork. Overall, pinon is a popular and tasty meal with a unique blend of flavors.
Gawu is a type of savory donut or fritter that is made from ground beans mixed with ingredients such as tomato, pepper, onions, and spices.
When sold commercially on the streets, fewer ingredients are added to the paste before it is deep-fried in oil. Originally called akara, gawu is believed to have originated among the Yoruba people in Nigeria and spread throughout West Africa.
Among the Yoruba tribe, akara had cultural significance and was served during mourning periods for elders or as a symbol of victory in battles.
While gawu is popular for breakfast, it can also be eaten as a snack throughout the day. Traditionally, it was fried in native palm oil, which has a distinct red color.
14. Koklo Meme
Koklo meme is a traditional Togolese dish that involves grilling chicken legs over an open flame until they are cooked through and infused with a smoky flavor.
The Togolese people take pride in preparing and showcasing this dish. Chicken legs are preferred over breast meat to prevent them from becoming over-grilled and drying out.
Prior to grilling, the chicken is marinated with a blend of ginger, garlic, and traditional spices, which enhance its flavor.
After grilling, a chili sauce is added to further enhance the taste. The sauce is usually drizzled over the chicken legs, but can also be served on the side.
In Togo, desserts are not a common part of their cuisine, unlike in western cultures. Instead, Togolese people usually enjoy fresh tropical fruits like pineapple, banana, or mango as their dessert.
However, while walking along the streets of a city or village in Togo, you may come across small, transparent sachets containing what appears to be frozen milk. This is called akpan or akassa, which is a type of fermented maize yogurt enjoyed in both Togo and Benin.
To make akpan, fermented corn kernels or powder are mixed with condensed milk and refrigerated or cooled with ice in a bowl before being poured into sachets.
Togolese people typically tear open the sachet with their teeth and suck the akpan directly into their mouths, although it can also be poured into a glass or served in a bowl.