Malian’s family tradition and bonding are very strong and rigid. They live to support and protect among them, family is priority. Normally Malians family live in with three generations; grandparents, parents, and children. Larger households include brothers and their wives and children, as well as visiting relatives and friends. Family life revolves around the courtyard; people there are always working, chatting, listening to music, or just relaxing.
While different family groups usually have their own private quarters within the household, meal times bring them together. During meals time, they sit on the ground, men eat in one group, women and children in another. Traditionally the meal consists of only one dish and served in a common plate or big stainless steel bowl.
Each region and ethnic group has a specific cuisine that is linked to its traditions, tastes, history, and method to produce. Nomadic people like the Touareg and Fulani, whose main activity is herding, base their cuisine on milk, yogurt, and butter. Bambara, Dogon, and Senoufo are farmers, and they makes cereal grains such as millet, corn, and fonio in cooking, and rice serves as the staple in the flood plains of the Niger River. The main foods are rice, millet, sorghum, and beans, cooked as a sort of porridge, served with a variety of sauces. Sauces can be made of ground peanuts, okra, baobab leaves, or sweet potato leaves with some meat or fish.
Traditionally, meals are cooked on a hearth made of three stones, or in clay pot with fire wood or dried manure, but the use of charcoal and metal stoves has spread in town areas. A common meal in southern Mali is called tô, a pudding made from pounded millet, served with a sauce of meat or vegetables. In the North, the Songhai and Touareg people make thick doughy pancakes served with wild leaves.
Riz au gras (a rice dish with meat and vegetables), gingembre (a drink made of water, sugar, lemon, and ginger), and dabileni (a drink made of water, sugar, and sorrel) are often prepared for the celebration and ceremonial events.
Intermarriage among ethnic groups has expanded favourite dishes of the family. The food in Mali is similar to that found in Senegal and other areas of West Africa. Senegalese dish Poulet Yassa is also popular in Mali and probably throughout Western Africa.