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Zingalo at Sina Gerard | Courtesy of Leah Feiger
Zingalo at Sina Gerard | Courtesy of Leah Feiger

Unique Things for a Foodie to Eat in Rwanda

Picture of Leah Feiger
Updated: 11 December 2017

Much like Paris, Rome, Tokyo or New York, Rwanda is a foodie destination in its own right. Traditional food in Rwanda is delicious and, though there aren’t yet official food tours or cooking classes, they will likely come soon. For now, check out our favorite unique foodie dishes to consume on your next trip to Rwanda.

Big Fish

Big Fish, a classic Rwandan dish found most frequently in the lively Nyamirambo neighbourhood of Kigali, is such a treat. It’s a giant tilapia, large enough to feed three people, grilled and stuffed with onions and various spices, and served alongside grilled potatoes. It’s an absolutely delicious experience, and perfect for big groups to try together. For Kigali’s best, head to Panorama Ten to Two.

Panorama Ten to Two, KN 203, Kigali, Rwanda

Big fish in Kigali

Big Fish in Kigali | © Steve Andersen / Flickr

Brochettes

Brochettes, otherwise known as grilled meat or fish on a stick, is one of the most consumed dishes in Rwanda. Brochettes can be found at pretty much every restaurant – from the smallest of bars to the fanciest of hotel restaurants. Some of the best in the country can be found at Car Wash, a popular bar in Kigali.

Car Wash, KN 2, Kigali, Rwanda

Rwandan brochettes

Brochettes on the grill | © SnippyHolloW / Flickr

Sambaza

Sambaza, little fish the size of a pinkie, are caught from Lake Kivu at sunset by fishermen with tightly woven nets. They are sold at markets and restaurants by the kilogram, and often fried in a thick batter to be served with mayonnaise. Though found all over the country, the best are at Republika Lounge, an upscale restaurant in Kigali.

Republika Lounge, KG 674, Kigali, Rwanda, +250 788 303 030

Fish salesmen at Kimironko Market

Fish salesmen at Kimironko Market | Courtesy of Leah Feiger

Ubunyobwa

A thick and spiced peanut sauce served at lunch buffets around Rwanda, ubunyobwa is a delicious and creamy addition to the often starchy lunch options. The tastiest ubunyobwa is made at Afrika Bite and is best eaten alongside a sizzling plate of chapati, a flatbread served around East Africa.

Afrika Bite, KG 674, Kigali, Rwanda, +250 733 503 888

Zingalo

Zingalo is a brochette made from goat intestine. Though not for everyone, this is a classic Rwandan dish that shouldn’t be missed. The best Zingalo brochettes can be found at a roadside stop named Sina Gerard, between Kigali and Musanze. Sold for less than a dollar, they make for a filling and unique lunch.

Sina Gerard, RN 4, Nyirangarama, Rwanda, +250 788 302 999

Zingalo at Sina Gerard

Zingalo at Sina Gerard | Courtesy of Leah Feiger

Akabanga

The spiciest of chili oils is found at every bar and restaurant in Rwanda. Known as Akabanga, it’s served in a small eyedropper and adds a great bit of heat to any curry, soup, or vegetable dish. Don’t put more than a few drops on your food, however, as this stuff is the real deal.

Akabanga at Sina Gerard

Akabanga at Sina Gerard | Courtesy of Leah Feiger

Urwagwa

Made from fermented banana juice and sorghum flour, Urwagwa is a beer that is home-brewed in pretty much every rural Rwandan town. Ask any local bar for a cold glass, and get ready for one of the world’s most intense beverages.

Bananas in Kigali

Bananas in Kigali | © CIAT / Flickr

Akabenz

Although pork is rarely a staple in Rwandan diets, akabenz, a barbecued pork dish, is one of Kigali’s favourite foodie items. The best akabenz is found at Come Again Bar in the Remera neighbourhood of Kigali, where pork is sold by the kilogram and washed down with a lot of cheap beer.

Come Again Bar, KN 5, Kigali, Rwanda

Matoke

Made from plantains steamed in banana leaves, matoke is a Rwandan staple found at most local restaurants. Starchy, hot, and often well-spiced, this dish is a Rwandan specialty all foodies have to try before leaving the country. 

The preparation of Matoke

The preparation of Matoke | © Kyla Marino / Flickr