Cuisine of Guinea-Bissau

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Map of Guinea-Bissau on west coast of Africa
Satellite image of Guinea-Bissau

Guinea-Bissauan cuisine is the food culture of Guinea-Bissau, a nation on Africa's west coast along the Atlantic Ocean. Rice is a staple in the diet of residents near the coast and millet a staple in the interior. Much of the rice is imported and food insecurity is a problem[1] in large part due to a series of coups, corruption and inflation.[2] Cashews are grown for export. Coconut, palm nut, and olives are also grown.[3]

Guinea Bissaua was a colony of Portugal until 1974.[2] Guinea-Bissaua has been influenced by Arabs, Europeans, and Asians. It is bordered by Senegal to the north and Guinea on the east and southeast. It has coastline on the Atlantic Ocean with many bays and peninsulas. The deep river Geba is an important geographical feature. There are marshy lowlands with mangroves and high mountains. There is a long dry season and a wet season. The population is approximately 1.6 million people with about 400,000 in the capital city of Bissau.[3]

Fish, shellfish, fruits and vegetables are commonly eaten along with cereal grains, milk, curd and whey. The Portuguese encouraged peanut production. Vigna subterranea (Bambara groundnut) and Macrotyloma geocarpum (Hausa groundnut) are also grown. Black-eyed peas are also part of the diet. Palm oil is harvested.

Common dishes include soups and stews. Common ingredients include yams, sweet potato, cassava, onion, tomato and plantain. Spices, peppers and chilis are used in cooking, including Aframomum melegueta seeds (Guinea pepper).


September 12 is Amilcar Cabral's birthday, a celebration that includes the eating of yassa, chicken prepared with mustard, citrus and onion. Other holidays and festivals include Carnival in February, Colonization Martyr's Day on August 3rd, Readjustment Movement Day in November, Independence Day on September 24th, Mocidade Day on December 1 and New Year Day.

Family ceremonies to mark birth, circumcision, marriage, and death are celebrated with palm wine or rum. Animal sacrifice is also performed.[4]