Sudanese cuisine has various influences, but none of them dominates the regional culinary cultures. Among the influences are from Egyptian, Ethiopian, Yemeni and Turkish cuisines (meatballs, pastries and spices), but there are also numerous dishes that are common to all Arabian nations.
- Foul, made from fava beans, is a common dish. It is eaten daily in breakfast by many Sudanese and can be considered the national dish.
- Local Sudanese breads are Kissra, a bread made from durra or corn; and Gurassa, a thick bread from wheat flour similar to pancake, but thicker. Sudanese also class Aseeda, a porridge made from wheat, millet or corn, as a bread.
- One local Northern Sudanese dish is Gurassa Bil Damaa, which is a bread of unleavened wheat similar to a pancake but thicker, topped up with meat stew or chicken.
- Some Eastern Sudanese dishes are Mukhbaza, which is made of shredded wheat bread mixed with mashed bananas and honey; Selaat, which is lamb cooked over heated stones; and Gurar, which is a kind of local sausage cooked in a similar way to Selaat.
- One of the popular dishes from western Sudan is Agashe, meat seasoned with ground peanuts and spices (mainly hot chilli), and cooked on a grill or an open flame.
- Fresh fruits and vegetables are very common.
Restaurants and food shopping
There are many modern restaurants/cafes such as Mexican, Korean, Italian, Turkish, Pakistani, Indian and Chinese in Khartoum and in Kharto North.
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.
Islam is the official religion of the country, and alcohol has been banned since sharia was imposed in the 1980s. Sudanese people frequently drink tea, usually sweet and black. 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 carbohydrate-laden drink known as madeeda. There are several types of madeeda, made with dates, dukhun (millet) or other ingredients blended with fresh milk, and usually heavily sweetened with sugar, though reduced-sugar versions may be available if you ask. 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!
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. It is potent and should be treated with respect, and beware that it is sometimes contaminated with the likes of methanol or embalming fluid to add flavour and potency! Be aware though that all these brews are not only potentially hazardous for your health but illegal, and being caught in possession can result in the full implementation of Islamic law punishments.
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.