The most important tip I can give you on Sudan local food, and the only one that will make you elevate from being a tourist to becoming a real traveler immersed in the local culture, is “Stay away from McDonalds“. When visiting Sudan, there is awesome local food to try. Head to the local eateries too, and go where the locals go. For me, the food, wine and and even the water is part of the travel experience.
What to Eat in Sudan
Sudanese cuisine has various influences, but none of them is dominating the regional culinary cultures. Among these, there is the Egyptian cuisine, the Ethiopian and the Turkish one (meatballs, pastries and spices), but there are also numerous dishes that are specific to all Arabian nations. Foul, made from fava beans, is a common dish. Fresh fruit and vegetables are very common. Local Sudanese breads are Kissra, a bread made from durra or corn; Aseeda, a porridge made from wheat, millet or corn; Gurassa, a thick bread from wheat flour similar to pancake, but thicker. One local Northern Sudanese dish is Gurassa Bil Damaa which is a bread of unleavened wheat similar to pancake but thicker, topped up with meat stew. Some Eastern Sudanese dishes are Mukhbaza which is made of shredded wheat bread mixed with mashed bananas and honey, and Selaat, which is lamb meat cooked over heated stones and Gurar which is a kind of local sausage cooked in a similar way to Selaat. One of the popular dish from western Sudan is Agashe, a dish prepared with meat seasoned with ground peanuts and spices (mainly hot chilli), and cooked on a grill or an open flame. One of the main attractions is Sug al Naga (The camel market) North of Omdurman, where you can select your meat of choice and then hand it over to one of the ladies to cook it for you in the way which you prefer. Sudan also has some refreshing drinks such as Karkade (hibiscus) which can be served hot or chilled, aradeeb (tamarind) and gongleiz (made with the baobab fruit). The local energy drink is a carbohydrates laden drink known as Madeeda. There are several types of Madeeda, made with dates or with Dukhun (Millet) or other types blended with fresh milk, and usually heavily sweetened with Sugar. You might consider asking for reduced sugar in Madeeda and in Mukhbaza, as it might otherwise be too sweet.
What to Drink in Sudan
Islam is the official religion of the country, and alcoholic beverages are banned. The only thing that’s frequently drunk in Sudan is tea; usually sweet and black. Hibiscus tea called karkadeh (red) is a delicious alternative. Sudanese coffee is available in most souks and is similar to Turkish style coffee; thick and strong, sometimes flavoured with cardamom or ginger with a powerful kick and altogether delicious. Not to be taken before bed though if you want an undisturbed night’s sleep! The general advice is not to drink tap water; in most rural areas, you will not be able to, as there are no taps… Where there are no bore holes (which often yield water that is fine to drink), water is often taken directly from the Nile. However, while alcohol is strictly illegal in the Muslim north, locally brewed alcohol is widely available in various forms and at various degrees of potency. A local beer (merissa) brewed from sorghum or millet is cloudy, sour and heavy and likely to be brewed with untreated water and will almost certainly lead to the ‘Mahdi’s revenge’ (the Sudanese version of ‘Delhi belly’). Aragi is a pure spirit distilled from sorghum or in its purest form, dates. Potent and powerful it should be treated with respect and is sometimes contaminated with the likes of methanol or embalming fluid (!) to add flavour and potency. Be aware though that all these brews, other than potentially hazardous for your health, are illegal and being caught in possession can result in the full implementation of Islamic law punishments.
Other local foods, or drinks that you recommend? Please add and comment.