The cuisine of Rwanda is based on local staple foods produced by subsistence agriculture such as bananas, plantains (known as ibitoke), pulses, sweet potatoes, beans, and cassava (manioc). Many Rwandans do not eat meat more than a few times a month. For those who live near Lakes and have access to fish, tilapia is popular. The potato, thought to have been introduced to Rwanda by German and Belgian colonialists, is very popular. Ugali (or bugali) is a paste made from cassava or maize and water to form a porridge-like consistency that is eaten throughout East Africa. Isombe is made from mashed cassava leaves and served with dried fish.
Lunch is usually a buffet known as melange, consisting of the above staples and possibly meat. Brochettes are the most popular food when eating out in the evening, usually made from goat but sometimes tripe, beef or fish. In rural areas, many bars have a brochette seller responsible for tending and slaughtering the goats, skewering and barbecuing the meat, and serving it with grilled bananas.
Milk, particularly in a fermented form called ikivuguto, is a common drink throughout the country. Other drinks include a traditional beer called urwagwa, made from sorghum or bananas, which features in traditional rituals and ceremonies. Commercial beers brewed in Rwanda include Primus, Mützig, Turbo King, Amstel Light and Skol.
Dining out can be an enjoyable, yet adventurous experience in Rwanda. From the small local shops selling traditional samosas and African tea to the first pizza parlor, the cities offer an assortment of interesting delicacies to satisfy your palate.
However, don’t go out to eat in a hurry, because the restaurant staff sure won’t be ! Enjoy your Primus ikonje (cold) while waiting your meal to be served.