The Chadian staple food is millet, a grain that can be eaten in a variety of ways. It may be used to make a paste that is formed into balls and dipped into sauces. This is popular both in the north, where it is called aiysh in Chadian Arabic, and in the south, where it is known as biya. Millet is also made into pancakes that are fried in oil. Sorghum, another type of grain, is also an important staple. Rice is grown in some areas, but corn and wheat are scarce. Beef, chicken and mutton are available in most parts of the country, particularly in the north, where livestock herding is common. Muslims do not eat pork, but pork is popular in N'Djamena and in southern Chad.

Fish abound in Chad's lakes and rivers. The most common fish is the Nile perch, called capitaine in Chad. Other fish include eel, tilapia and carp. Balbout (a mud-dwelling catfish) is caught at the beginning of the rainy season. Fish may be dried, salted or smoked before they are sold. Salanga (small dried or salted fish) and banda (larger smoked fish) are popular among Chadians and are exported to Cameroon and Nigeria.

Okra is very popular in Chad and is used as the base of a sauce called gumbo. The leaves of the cassava plant are another common vegetable. Many fruits grow in the south, such as mangoes, guavas and bananas. In the arid north, dates and raisins, which grow in oases, are used in many dishes.

Peanuts are a popular snack and are eaten raw or roasted. Other snacks include corn (roasted or boiled) and fangasou (fried doughnuts made of millet or wheat flour). Fangasou are also popular for breakfast. In some places, skewered roasted meats in a hot, spicy sauce are sold on the streets, accompanied by French bread. Carcaje is a sweet drink made from hibiscus leaves. It is often sold in markets in small plastic bags.

The evening meal is the most important meal of the day. It is served on a large plate set in the middle of a mat. People gather around the plate and seat themselves on the ground. Generally, men and women eat separately.

   Did you know?
For religious reasons, Muslims do not drink alcohol. In the south, however, people enjoy beer brewed from millet. It is called billi-billi when it is made from red millet and coshate when it is made from white millet. Spirits made from distilled millet alcohol are known as arki. Gala beer is also manufactured in Chad.
   Dried Fish Gumbo

1 large onion, chopped
4 large tomatoes
2 tbsp oil
500 ml water
500 g dried salted fish
Salt and pepper or cayenne to taste
1 package dried okra powder


In a medium-sized saucepan, sauté the onions and tomatoes in the oil. Add the water and the dried fish, cut into small pieces, and add salt, pepper or cayenne to taste. Let boil for 10 minutes, then add the dried okra. Boil for another 20 minutes and simmer for another 15 minutes. Serve hot, accompanied by rice or millet.