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African Pasta

African pasta is the term for spicy pasta dishes eaten in Africa. They can be differentiated from other pastas by the use of ingredients such as couscous (a form of tiny semolina pasta), harissa (a hot chili oil) and local spices and vegetables. Use of citrus fruits like oranges and lemons is also common. Both savory and sweet pasta dishes are prepared with many local variations.

Ingredients and Preparation

Ingredients commonly used for preparation of African pasta are couscous or any type of wheat pasta, garlic, ginger and spices like coriander, cayenne and red chili powder, and vegetables such as kale and meats like chicken, camel or beef. A commonly used flavoring ingredient for sauces is harissa, which is a Tunisian hot chili oil made with chili peppers like piri piri and Serrano peppers, garlic paste, red chili powder, coriander, caraway and olive or vegetable oil.

Couscous pasta is a kind of pasta commonly eaten here, which is made with semolina. This is a very small form of pasta made with semolina, which looks like grain. It is cooked in boiling water, then fluffed up with a fork, and mixed with butter. It is then served with meats or stews spooned on it, or an accompaniment to entrees. It is also called kuskus, kesukesu or cuscusu.


African pasta is served hot, often as a side dish. The popular variety of couscous pasta is served with meats such as beef, lamb, camel or poultry. A sweet version of Couscous called Masfouf is served as a dessert during Ramadan.


  • Orange Chicken and Pasta Casserole: This consists of cooked wheat pasta, grilled chicken, peas and a sauce made of orange zest, orange juice, honey, wine, oil, cayenne and gingerroot.

  • Couscous with Pine Nuts and Dried Apricots: This consists of cooked dried apricots, toasted pine nuts and couscous cooked in broth.

  • Spicy North African Whole Wheat Pasta: This is made with cooked whole wheat pasta and kale served in a sauce made with garlic paste, olive oil and harissa sauce.