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12 African Salad Variants From All African Regions

An African salad is a rich blend of vegetables, fruits, cheese, cooked meat, eggs, cured meat, grains, seeds, and nuts. Typically, they are served cold—notwithstanding that some of the components are cooked. In some parts of Africa, salad is a luxury that you will only find on special occasions. However, judging by the rich nutritional content of salad, it should be an everyday meal. Some African salad variants contain all six classes of foods.

There are a few components that you will find on all variants of African salad. However, some ingredients are peculiar to salads from certain regions of Africa. The reason is partly that some of the ingredients are only available in certain parts of the continent. Therefore, different regions usually innovate with the ingredients available to them.

Arguably, an African salad is one of the simplest, nutritious, and delicious foods to prepare. However, you should make no mistake, chopping the different components is time-consuming. Today, we want to expose you to amazing African salad recipes you can make using ingredients in your kitchen or garden, or local market.

What are the types of salad?

There are five popular types of salad recipes. The salad variants are usually named after the predominant ingredient they contain. Some African salad recipes incorporate special ingredients only available in that country. Here are the most common types of salads.

  • Green salads: also popular as garden salads consist mostly of fresh green-leaf vegetables as the core ingredients.
  • Fruit salads: made of sliced, chopped, or diced fruits mixed together for the perfect daytime snack. It is both refreshing and delicious.
  • Rice and pasta salads: have a base of rice or pasta and are most popular in Asian countries.
  • Bound salads: are salads bound together using a thick sauce, for example, mayonnaise.
  • Dinner salads: these are salads made with more carbohydrates or proteins and can be eaten as a main course for meals, e.g., dinner.
  • Dessert salads: rarely include green leaf ingredients and are mainly sweet.

What are the elements of a quality African salad?

Whatever the ingredients may contain, there are qualities of African salad that remain the same throughout the continent. This distinct feature is what makes you crave more after a taste. Below are some of the unique elements of an African salad.

  1. The freshness of the ingredients: The most fundamental key in creating a fantastic salad is fresh ingredients. It is paramount to use the freshest ingredients possible to bring out their flavors.
  2. Compatibility of the ingredients: How well do the ingredients complement each other? Ingredients should go well together, improving or accentuating each other’s flavors
  3. Physical appeal: Ensure your salad is appealing to the eye. The visual appeal is what draws people to want to take a bite.

What are the four essential parts of an African salad?

An average salad is made up of four core parts. The first is the base or underliner. It mainly consists of leafy green vegetables. The second part is the body. This incorporates the main ingredient of the salad. Thirdly, we have the garnish, which includes parts of the salad used to decorate it, adding color and appeal, sometimes flavor. Finally, the dressing, which is liquid or semi-liquid used to improve taste, moisten, or enrich the salad (palatability and appearance).

What veggies go in an African salad?

When making a salad, you will need to ensure the vegetables you use are nutritious, aromatic, and flavorful. Although most—if not all vegetables—can be used in a salad, the most common salad vegetables include broccoli, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, cucumbers, endive, escarole, green onions, lettuce, mushrooms, peas, bell peppers, chili peppers, radishes, romaine, spinach, and tomatoes.

12 African Salad Variants From All African Regions
12 African Salad Variants From All African Regions

12 variations of African salads

1. Timatim (Ethiopian tomato salad) by International Cuisine

Timatim is a delightful little tomato side salad often served on top of Injera in Ethiopian and Eritrean cuisine.  It is also a welcome bite after the very spicy wat dishes. This is oftentimes made with the injera bread ripped up and added to the tomato salad and served for leftovers.  It is also called firfir when served like that.

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Yields4 Servings
Prep Time15 minsTotal Time15 mins

For the Salad
 34 large tomatoes diced
 ½ red onion finely diced
 12 jalapeno peppers de-seeded and finely chipped
For the Dressing
 ¼ cup canola oil
 3 tbsp red wine vinegaror white wine vinegar
 1 lemon Juice
 12 cloves garlic minced

Ingredients

For the Salad
 34 large tomatoes diced
 ½ red onion finely diced
 12 jalapeno peppers de-seeded and finely chipped
For the Dressing
 ¼ cup canola oil
 3 tbsp red wine vinegaror white wine vinegar
 1 lemon Juice
 12 cloves garlic minced
Timatim (Ethiopian Tomato Salad) by International Cuisine

2. Omek Houria Tunisian Spicy Carrot Salad by How to Cook

The Omek Houria recipe is a well-known Tunisian recipe that literally means your mom (Omek) the fairy (Houria).

On a spicy basis, this carrot recipe is a childhood memory that we used to savor by calling it the carrot salad of “your mother who stings (nt)” because of the harissa which gives to this dish all its power.

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salad

Yields4 Servings
Prep Time10 minsCook Time15 minsTotal Time25 mins

Even today, a follower of this very particular version of Omek Houria, I suggest you here to share with you the recipe of my childhood, simple and unlike other variants, the lighter recipe of this carrot salad… spicy.

There are several variations of this Tunisian recipe from Omek Houria (or Ommek Houria) but only one from “your mother who stings”!

The personal version that I offer is tasty when it is prepared as a family with the children who will then remember their efforts (in particular to crush the carrots) and the irreplaceable flavors of the carrot of mom who stings!

In those 7 steps, this salad will delight your taste buds.

 SaltAs needed
 46 Piece(s) Cloves Garlic
 1 tsp Caraway
 HarissaAs needed (diari / house) (depending on your preference)
 23 tbsp Olive Oil
 10 Pieces Carrot

Ingredients

 SaltAs needed
 46 Piece(s) Cloves Garlic
 1 tsp Caraway
 HarissaAs needed (diari / house) (depending on your preference)
 23 tbsp Olive Oil
 10 Pieces Carrot
Omek Houria Tunisian Spicy Carrot Salad by How to Cook

3. Tunisian grilled salad with Tuna (Salata Mishwiya) by Global Table Adventure


Usually, the food we grill stays whole. We put it on a bun, or we eat it with our hands. But today’s Tunisian Grilled Salad takes a different approach. The charred vegetables – peppers, onion, tomatoes – are pulsed together into a chunky mixture, then served with flaked tuna, and hard boiled egg.

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salad

Yields6 Servings
Prep Time15 minsCook Time30 minsTotal Time45 mins

This salad has body.

Much of the intensity comes off the grill,  from the raw garlic, hot chili peppers, and the caraway seeds, all of which can be tempered to taste.

Please, please, please… let this salad meld for at least an hour before eating.

This will give the bite time to mellow.

 3 green bell peppers
 2 tomatoes (or 3 small)
 1 onion, peeled and quartered (leave stem on to help hold it together)
 1 tsp caraway seeds (optional)
 3 cloves garlic
 1 tsp salt
Garnishes
 1 lemon (juiced)
 lemon wedges
 23 hard boiled eggs

Ingredients

 3 green bell peppers
 2 tomatoes (or 3 small)
 1 onion, peeled and quartered (leave stem on to help hold it together)
 1 tsp caraway seeds (optional)
 3 cloves garlic
 1 tsp salt
Garnishes
 1 lemon (juiced)
 lemon wedges
 23 hard boiled eggs
Tunisian Grilled Salad Tuna(Salata Mishwiyya) by Global Table Adventure

4. Kachumbari (Kenyan fresh tomato and onion salad) by Curious Cuisiniere


Kachumbari is a light and fresh tomato and onion salad that makes for a perfect summer side dish to pair with your grilled meats! This salad with a Swahili name is popular as a side dish or condiment for summer-time grilled meats and rice dishes.

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Kachumbari Kenyan Fresh Tomato & Onion Salad by Curious Cuisiniere

Yields4 Servings
Prep Time20 minsTotal Time20 mins

Kachumbari is a fresh tomato and onion salad that is popular in East Africa, particularly in Kenya, but also in Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, and Uganda.

Also, Kachumbari really is such a simple dish that is perfectly bursting with summer flavors. Tomatoes, onions, avocado, and chili peppers come together, flavored with a light lime juice and cilantro dressing.

With so few ingredients, each one shines forth like a bright and crisp reminder of warm weather and fresh flavors.

 ½ medium red onion, diced
 1 tsp salt
 ¾ avocado
 ½ lime, juiced (approx 1 Tbsp juice)

Ingredients

 ½ medium red onion, diced
 1 tsp salt
 ¾ avocado
 ½ lime, juiced (approx 1 Tbsp juice)
Kachumbari( Kenyan Fresh Tomato & Onion Salad) by Curious Cuisiniere

5. Azifa (Ethiopian lentil salad) by Adamant Kitchen


Azifa is an Ethiopian green lentil dish that combines lentils with lime juice, mild hot peppers, and spices.  It’s served cold as a light snack and is especially popular during lent when meat is prohibited.

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Azifa (Ethiopian Lentil Salad) by Adamant Kitchen

Yields4 Servings
Prep Time15 minsCook Time30 minsTotal Time45 mins

Since it’s completely vegetarian, Azifa is served during lent as an easy snack with injera, or as the book says “with lettuce and tomatoes and cottage cheese for a light snack.”  Choose mild chili peppers for just a bit of heat, or go with hot peppers if that’s your preference.

 1 cup lentils
 2 ½ cups water
 1 medium red onionschopped
 2 medium tomatoes seeded, and finely chopped
 ½ tsp black pepper
 ½ tsp ginger powder
 1 tbsp dijon mustard
 2 medium limes, juiced
 salt to taste
 2 tbsp oil

Ingredients

 1 cup lentils
 2 ½ cups water
 1 medium red onionschopped
 2 medium tomatoes seeded, and finely chopped
 ½ tsp black pepper
 ½ tsp ginger powder
 1 tbsp dijon mustard
 2 medium limes, juiced
 salt to taste
 2 tbsp oil
Azifa (Ethiopian Lentil Salad) by Adamant Kitchen

6. Eritrean spicy tomato bread salad with yogurt (Fata) by Savuer

In the Horn of Africa, they serve a version of panzanella tossed not with fresh tomatoes, but with a rich, spicy tomato stew. Crusty bread soaks up the juices and cooling yogurt provides contrast and sweet relief. 

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Eritrean Spicy Tomato Bread Salad with Yogurt (Fata)

Yields2 Servings
Prep Time10 minsCook Time15 minsTotal Time25 mins

 1 small red onion, minced
 4 cloves garlic, minced
 ¼ cup olive oil
 5 plum tomatoes cored 4 minced, 1 diced
 2 tsp tomato paste
 ¼ tsp cayenne
 ¼ tsp ground allspicehttps://amzn.to/3pn6J6X
 Kosher salt to taste
 6 oz crusty rolls (bread)torn into 1 1/2
 1 jalapeño diced

Ingredients

 1 small red onion, minced
 4 cloves garlic, minced
 ¼ cup olive oil
 5 plum tomatoes cored 4 minced, 1 diced
 2 tsp tomato paste
 ¼ tsp cayenne
 ¼ tsp ground allspicehttps://amzn.to/3pn6J6X
 Kosher salt to taste
 6 oz crusty rolls (bread)torn into 1 1/2
 1 jalapeño diced
Eritrean Spicy Tomato Bread Salad with Yogurt (Fata) by Saveur

7. Moroccan Salad Zaalouk by Cookilicious

Zaalouk is one of the most basic salads of Moroccan cuisine and there are a million ways of preparing it all across Morocco. The recipe varies from home to home. 

Being a salad it's often served at the beginning of the meal or as a vegan dip but it can also accompany grilled meats or fish, kebabs, or tagines.

Zaalouk is a simple yet delicious Mediterranean vegetarian recipe, prepared with smoked eggplants and Moroccan spices. Serve it as a vegan dip, salad, or side! 

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Moroccan Salad Zaalouk by Cookilicious

Yields4 Servings
Prep Time10 minsCook Time20 minsTotal Time30 mins

Zaalouk is naturally vegan and gluten-free and can be made in 30 minutes. 

When it comes to spices, they are mainly used to brighten up the dish and make the Mediterranean flavors stand out.

This grilled eggplant salad is chunky, saucy, and full of flavors. Just like a ratatouille!

To Grill Eggplants
 3 baby eggplants
To Prepare Zaalouk
 1 tbsp Vegetable Oil
 4 cloves garlic minced
 1 tsp Cumin seeds
 3 tomatoes chopped
 1 tbsp Za'atar seasoning optional
  cup cilantro chopped
 saltto taste
For Garnish
 2 tbsp pistachioschopped
Equipment

Ingredients

To Grill Eggplants
 3 baby eggplants
To Prepare Zaalouk
 1 tbsp Vegetable Oil
 4 cloves garlic minced
 1 tsp Cumin seeds
 3 tomatoes chopped
 1 tbsp Za'atar seasoning optional
  cup cilantro chopped
 saltto taste
For Garnish
 2 tbsp pistachioschopped
Equipment
Moroccan Salad Zaalouk by Cookilicious

8. Taktouka by My Moroccan Food

Taktouka is literally one of my favorite Moroccan salads! I feel bad for saying that because I say that for sooo many dishes but really, this salad is such a treat! On top of that, it is very healthy, satisfying and so easy to prepare. The grilled bell peppers add a delicate smokiness to the salad that is perfectly balanced by the natural sweetness of the tomatoes.

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taktouka

Yields4 Servings
Prep Time10 minsCook Time15 minsTotal Time25 mins

I love eating it the Moroccan way by dipping some bread into the taktouka but it is also great in a sandwich, as a spread or as a side dish next to a grilled meat or fish.

Depending on where you live, the tomatoes might be less or more sweet, if your tomatoes are quite naturally sweet (the way they are in Morocco!) discard the caster sugar from the recipe. 

 2 large sweet green peppers such as bell peppers
 3 tbsp olive oil
 4 large tomatoes
 1 tsp finely chopped garlic, about 2 cloves
 4 tbsp mixture of fresh chopped parsley and coriander
 1 tsp paprika
 ½ tsp cumin
 ½ tsp salt or more to taste
 ½ tsp caster sugar

Ingredients

 2 large sweet green peppers such as bell peppers
 3 tbsp olive oil
 4 large tomatoes
 1 tsp finely chopped garlic, about 2 cloves
 4 tbsp mixture of fresh chopped parsley and coriander
 1 tsp paprika
 ½ tsp cumin
 ½ tsp salt or more to taste
 ½ tsp caster sugar
Taktouka by My Moroccan Food

9. Tunisian Grilled Mechouia salad by Slow Burning Passion

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Tunisian Grilled Mechouia Salad by Slow Burning Passion

Yields4 Servings
Prep Time30 minsCook Time15 minsTotal Time45 mins

Mechouia salad is a simple but delicious grilled vegetable salad from Tunisia. Charred onions, peppers, tomatoes, and garlic are coarsely chopped, salted and seasoned, and drizzled with olive oil. There’s probably some fresh herbs served on top. By itself, it’s a perfect vegan dish. 

However, it’s usually garnished with hard-boiled eggs, or olives, or a piece of fish (tuna)–or perhaps some combination of the three–added in moderation a la the Mediterranean style. In fact, in my view, Mechouia salad is pretty much the quintessence of the Mediterranean diet in a single dish. Most of the healthful usual suspects are there. This is definitely the way to eat!

 4 Medium Tomatoes
 2 Red Bell Peppers
 2 Large Jalapeno Peppers
 2 Small Sweet Onions, the outer paper leaves removed
 2 Cloves Garlic, finely minced
 Salt to Taste
 Pepper to Taste
Optional Garnishes
 Fresh Parsley or Cilantro
 One Hard Boiled Egg, peeled and cut into to quarters
 A few ounces of cooked tuna
 A small handful of olives

Ingredients

 4 Medium Tomatoes
 2 Red Bell Peppers
 2 Large Jalapeno Peppers
 2 Small Sweet Onions, the outer paper leaves removed
 2 Cloves Garlic, finely minced
 Salt to Taste
 Pepper to Taste
Optional Garnishes
 Fresh Parsley or Cilantro
 One Hard Boiled Egg, peeled and cut into to quarters
 A few ounces of cooked tuna
 A small handful of olives
Tunisian Grilled Mechouia Salad by Slow Burning Passion

10. Abacha Ncha, African Salad by The Pretend Chef

Abacha, also called African Salad, jigbo, is made from processed shredded cassava tuber. It is a popular dish from the eastern part of Nigeria. Abacha Ncha, African Salad is served as a snack or main meal to visitors at home, weddings, or parties and besides the Nigerian jollof rice, Abacha is arguably the next best dish out of Nigeria.

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Abacha Ncha, African Salad

Yields1 Serving
Prep Time30 minsCook Time10 minsTotal Time40 mins

The dish Abacha, an African salad, derives its name from the unprepared ingredient which is sold wet or dehydrated (dry) already processed. I used to do the processing myself but it is so tedious, the peeling, boiling, slicing or grating, soaking, etc, you are better off buying the already processed one.

 150 g dry abacha
 ¼ cup Palm oil
 4 tsp potash water (1 tablespoon potash powder to 4 tablespoons water)
 1 tbsp ground crayfish
 5 ½ tsp ground ehuru(about 3 medium seeds)
 fresh anala leaves (garden egg leaves)
 garden egg
 frozen mackerel(icefish)
 onions

Ingredients

 150 g dry abacha
 ¼ cup Palm oil
 4 tsp potash water (1 tablespoon potash powder to 4 tablespoons water)
 1 tbsp ground crayfish
 5 ½ tsp ground ehuru(about 3 medium seeds)
 fresh anala leaves (garden egg leaves)
 garden egg
 frozen mackerel(icefish)
 onions
Abacha Ncha, African Salad by The Pretend Chef

11. Kachumbari (East African Tomato and Onion Salad) by Meals by Mavis

Kachumbari is a tomato and onion-based salad that is part of the cuisine in Kenya, Tanzania and other neighboring regions. Kachumbari can be eaten as a side dish or an appetizer for a main meal. It’s also common for kachumbari to be used as a condiment for East African pilau rice and biryani.

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Kachumbari (East African Tomato and Onion Salad) by Meals by Mavis

Yields4 Servings
Prep Time10 minsCook Time31 minsTotal Time41 mins

Kachumbari is an East African fresh tomato and onion-based salad that is perfect as an appetizer for main meals. This salad is also great as a side dish for grilled meats.

 4 medium Fresh tomatoes (chopped finely)
 1 medium red onion (chopped finely)
 ½ cup English cucumber(chopped finely)
 ½ cup avocado(peeled, seeded, and chopped finely)
 6 stalks fresh cilantro(chopped finely)
 1 habanero pepper(seeded and finely chopped)
 1 tsp salt
For the dressing
 1 lime (juiced)
 1 tsp honey
 1 tbsp olive oil
 saltto taste
 pepperto taste

Ingredients

 4 medium Fresh tomatoes (chopped finely)
 1 medium red onion (chopped finely)
 ½ cup English cucumber(chopped finely)
 ½ cup avocado(peeled, seeded, and chopped finely)
 6 stalks fresh cilantro(chopped finely)
 1 habanero pepper(seeded and finely chopped)
 1 tsp salt
For the dressing
 1 lime (juiced)
 1 tsp honey
 1 tbsp olive oil
 saltto taste
 pepperto taste
Kachumbari (East African Tomato and Onion Salad) by Meals by Mavis

12. Senegalesse Black-Eyed Pea Salad (Saladu Ñebbe ) by Cookie and Kate

Senegalese Black-eyed peas are not just for New Years! They are delicious little white beans with a mild taste and smooth texture, and as such can and should be enjoyed year-round.

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Senegalese Black-Eyed Pea Salad

Yields4 Servings
Prep Time20 minsCook Time55 minsTotal Time1 hr 15 mins

This simple, refreshing bean salad recipe makes a great summer side or potluck dish. I added leftover brown basmati rice and sliced avocado to make it a complete meal.

 ½ cup fresh lime juice (about 2 ½ limes, juiced)
 1 cup chopped parsley
 ½ cup Olive oil
 5 cups cooked black-eyed peas(roughly 3 cups dried peas makes 5 cups when cooked, see notes for cooking instructions)
 1 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and finely chopped
 10 scallions, roughly chopped
 1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes, chopped
 2 serrano peppersor 1 habanero or Scotch bonnet chile, stemmed, seeded, and minced
 1 medium cucumberseeded and finely chopped
 Sea saltto taste
Optional

Ingredients

 ½ cup fresh lime juice (about 2 ½ limes, juiced)
 1 cup chopped parsley
 ½ cup Olive oil
 5 cups cooked black-eyed peas(roughly 3 cups dried peas makes 5 cups when cooked, see notes for cooking instructions)
 1 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and finely chopped
 10 scallions, roughly chopped
 1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes, chopped
 2 serrano peppersor 1 habanero or Scotch bonnet chile, stemmed, seeded, and minced
 1 medium cucumberseeded and finely chopped
 Sea saltto taste
Optional
Senegalese Black-Eyed Pea Salad(Saladu Ñebbe) by Cookie and Kate

Conclusion

With this long list of variants, never again will your menu be boring. You can keep your family guessing on what is about to hit them next. Discover flavors, aromas, textures, and combinations you wouldn’t have thought about. Experience African food and grow your culinary skills using these recipes. What is your favorite African salad recipe on our list? Which of the recipes would you try first? Share your thoughts in the comment box below.

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