Rwandan food is neither spicy nor hot. People eat simple meals made with locally grown ingredients. The Rwandan diet consists mainly of sweet potatoes, beans, corn, peas, millet and fruit. A traditional breakfast consists of sweet potatoes and porridge, which is a mixture of sorghum, corn and millet, mixed with milk. In urban areas such as Kigali, people usually have bread and tea for breakfast. Rwandans add lots of milk and sugar to their tea.

 Lunch and dinner may consist of boiled beans, bananas, sweet potatoes or cassava. Umutsima (a dish of cassava and corn), isombe (cassava leaves with eggplant and spinach) and mizuzu (fried plantains) are common dishes. Dinner is the heaviest meal. Between meals, Rwandans often snack on fruits. Tropical fruits such as avocados, bananas, mangos and papaya are abundant in Rwanda. Roadside vendors in urban areas sell roasted corn and barbecued meat.

Many Rwandan men enjoy drinking beer, but women rarely drink alcohol in any form. Although Rwanda has a large commercial brewery, many people make their own beer and alcoholic beverages, using sorghum, corn or fermented plantains. Ikigage is a locally brewed alcoholic drink made from dry sorghum and urwarwa is brewed from plantains. Traditionally, people drink beer through straws from a single large container. 

Rwandans who live in rural areas rarely eat meat. Some families have cattle, but since cattle are considered a status symbol, people seldom slaughter them for meat. Many Rwandans in rural areas eat meat only once or twice a month and some Rwandan children suffer from protein deficiency. In urban areas meat is more plentiful. The most popular meats are beef and chicken. People who live near lakes may catch and eat fish. Tilapia and sambaza are raised on fish farms.


 2 bunches cassava leaves
washed and chopped (another leafy vegetable may be substituted)
2 green onions, chopped 
2 medium eggplants, cut into chunks
2 packages spinach, washed and chopped
2 green peppers, sliced into pieces
3 tbsp palm oil
3 tbsp peanut butter


 Boil cassava leaves until tender. Add chopped green onions, eggplant, spinach and green peppers. Cook on medium heat for 10 minutes. Add palm oil and peanut butter. Simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, Serve with rice or bread.

  Did you know?
Cassava is a vegetable with large, tuberous roots that can grow in poor soil and tolerate drought. It can be left in the ground for up to four years before being harvested, but once it is harvested, it must be eaten immediately.