Food & Drink in Sudan

Food & Drink in Sudan Last updated on Saturday 24th April 2010

Basic foodstuffs are available for purchase in most towns, and local markets are quite well-stocked with fruit, vegetables, peanuts and spices.

Despite a recent history of famine and starvation which is now only a memory for large parts of the population, Sudanese people are incredibly hospitable, and will willingly share what little food they have with visitors and travelers.

Sudanese cooking is extremely simple, with little or no use of spices. Seasoning is generally confined to salt and pepper and lemon juice. Meals are eaten from a communal bowl, using the fingers of the right hand in accord with religious practice. The most common dishes are as follows (although these are not always available):

Meat and poultry. Chicken is usually stewed and served in a broth, while lamb can be skewered as a kebab, or cooked on a bed of coals and served with salad. This dish can also be made with beef and is known as shayya.
For those whose taste runs to offal, there is kammonia, a dish made from the stomach of a sheep, stewed and served with onions and tomatoes. Liver and kidney dishes are also popular: kibda is skewered or stewed liver, and kalawi is chopped kidney, often served with bread and a squeeze of lemon juice.

Fish. The most popular fish seems to be Nile perch, which is available in the towns of Khartoum and Omdurman. It is fried in batter and served with red peppers.

Bread. There are two main kinds of bread to be had. Kisra is a thin, unleavened bread made from maize flour, and gurrasa is its thicker counterpart, often used as a base for meat and vegetable stews.

Vegetables. Most vegetable dishes are served with a piece of meat in a thin broth, with a dash of oil. Beans are popular and are served in a variety of ways. Fool is a dish of stewed beans, often mashed and served with salad. Fasooliyya is another bean dish, made from slightly smaller beans. Boiled potatoes are known as batatas and are usually served with a thin, meat gravy. Very popular are yellow lentils, known as adaas, and bamya is okra, or ladies' fingers, often used as an ingredient in soups or stews. A dish called mahshi consists of tomatoes or aubergines stuffed with minced lamb or rice. Salata, as the name suggests, is a salad, usually made of tomatoes, lettuce, onions and green peppers, and dressed with lime juice.

Desserts. The favourite dessert is probably zabadi, which is yogurt served with a thick syrup. Hoshab is a cold sweet made from a mixture of chopped bananas, figs and raisins.

Drinks. Tea (shai) is a popular drink, served in small glasses with or without milk, and sometimes flavoured with cloves, cinnamon or mint. Coffee is always very strong, served in small cups or china bowls. Jebana is a variety of coffee, often spiced with cinnamon or ginger. Fruit juices, such as guava, grapefruit, orange and mango are also available. Alcoholic drinks are officially banned under strict Islamic law, but 'bootleg' liquor can certainly be found. Araqi is a clear, strong spirit made from dates, merissa is a type of beer, and tedj is the name given to a range of wines made from dates or honey.

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