Sauces To Look For At An African Store

Every cuisine has its typical sauces. Italian cuisine is known for its red sauce and pesto. Japanese cuisine uses a lot of soy sauce. African cuisines are no different. If you want to enjoy and experience African cuisines, you need to make a point of trying some of the sauces. Here are some key ones to look for when you visit an African store.

Filfel Chuma

Filfel chuma is a sauce that's common in Libya. It is made with lots of ground chile peppers, cumin, and caraway seeds, which makes it spicy with a unique sweetness and warmth. The sauce is often ladled over a range of dishes, from cooked rice and beans to roasted fish. If you can find a bottled version at your local African store, definitely pick it up. Filfel chuma will add some unique, spicy zing to any meal.

Egusi Sauce

Egusi is popular all throughout Africa. At African restaurants, you can often order chicken egusi or shrimp egusi. The sauce itself is a rich blend of onions, tomatoes, and peppers. Its thick texture comes from the addition of squash or melon seeds. Some versions are hotter than others; it depends on the peppers used to make the sauce. You can pour egusi over basically any grilled meat or fish and enjoy an African-inspired meal at home.

Monkey Gland Sauce

In spite of its name, this sauce does not contain anything from a monkey gland — or anything from a monkey at all, for that matter. The key ingredients are mostly things you probably already have in your pantry or fridge: Worcestershire sauce, tomato ketchup, soy sauce, jam, ginger, and garlic. The resulting sauce is tangy and a little sweet. It's used as a steak sauce in South Africa, but you could just as easily enjoy it on barbecued chicken or pork chops.


Arachide is a thick, peanut butter-based sauce seasoned with hot chili peppers, garlic, and onions. It's surprisingly savory for a peanut butter sauce. Usually, meat and veggies are simmered in the sauce, and then the whole dish is served over rice. Long grain white rice is particularly good at soaking up all the extra sauce.

Many of these sauces are sold in pre-bottled forms. You may even see some of them in the frozen aisle. Look for them the next time you visit an African store and prepare to be amazed at the variety of flavors.