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Sierra Leone Food and Drink

Sierra Leone has a deep and rich food culture. From the street stalls selling kukhri (rice and sauce) and plassas (fried dough balls and plantain with spicy gravy) in the cities, to the upmarket restaurants selling mouth-watering fish and seafood dishes on the beaches, it's no wonder Sierra Leone has been nicknamed 'Sweet Salone'.

Most food is spicy and uses salty Maggi stock cubes, but it is also healthy and prepared with local ingredients. At every corner, on every beach, in every village, you will come across a food culture that is deeply engrained in Sierra Leonean society.

Specialities

Groundnut stew: Stew made from peanuts, meat, tomatoes and onions.
Cassava bread: Bread made from the flour from the starchy root of the cassava plant.
Okra stew: Stew made from the vegetable often referred to as 'lady's fingers'.
Cassava and potato leaf stews: A little like spinach, these leaves are mixed with various spices and fish stock and served with fish, goat or chicken.
Krinkrinand fish balls: Traditional Krio dish usually served in the beach areas of Freetown where fish comes straight out of the ocean and into the pot.
Yebe: Thick stew of cassava, yams, onions, chicken, stock, chilli and other spices traditional to the Mende tribe.
Benny cake: Moorish sesame seed and sugar biscuit.
Coconut cake: Biscuit made from fresh coconut, flour and sugar.
Plantain chips: Deep-fried plantain slices eaten like crisps.
Pepper soup: Very spicy soup made from hot chilli peppers and tomato paste with fried onion and garlic. Usually served with fish or meat.
Jollof rice: Rice fried with beans and served with a spicy onion-based sauce.
Fufu: Originating from Ghana, this dish is essentially pounded yam, cassava root or corn served with a sauce such as a basic groundnut stew.
Star beer: Lager locally produced by the Sierra Leone Breweries Limited.
Poyo: Potent alcoholic brew from the fermented sap of palm trees.
Ginger beer: Popular refreshing non-alcoholic alternative to beer.

Things to know

The majority of food experiences in Sierra Leone are overwhelmingly positive and it is recommended to try at least one local dish during your visit. However, when eating out, try to stick to places that have been recommended, to reduce the chances of getting an upset stomach due to the poor hygiene practices of some establishments.

Tipping

Most hotels and restaurants include a service charge of 10 to 15%.

Drinking age

Sierra Leone has no legal drinking age.