If you are planning to visit the Victoria falls in Zambia,…Awesome! We welcome you to our beautiful country. Let me now take this opportunity to talk about my favorite subject: Food! Yay! Zambian food to be exact.
There are so many delicious things to eat around the country.Hence I want to introduce you to some mouth-watering traditional dishes that are common in Zambian restaurants, lodges and even in some five star hotels. Zambian cuisine comprises of a lot of traditional dishes but most of these are not usually available in eating places because of the amount of time they take to prepare.
Here is a list of 9 authentic dishes to eat in Zambia that will leave you wanting more. You can find these foods at just about any local restaurant nearby that is comfortable enough and appealing for you.
The staple food – Nshima
Nshima is the staple food in Zambia. It is a paste- like, more solid than porridge and is made out of mealie meal (cornmeal). Nshima can also be made from other flours such as millet, sorghum or cassava. It is cooked by heating some water and slowly adding the cornmeal to it until it forms a dough-like consistency (Recipe here). It is served with any protein dish and a side vegetable dish. The traditional way to eat it is by using hands but it can also be enjoyed with a fork and knife.
Now let us talk about the mouth-watering dishes that nshima can be served with:
- Vimbombo(cow hooves)
- Dried Beans
- Tilapia Fish
- Village Chicken
- Visashi (vegetables in peanut sauce)
- Offals (Tripe)
- Cooked Okra
- Vinkubala (Mopane worms)
Kapenta is one of the most delicious Zambian food cuisines. It is commonly known as lake sardines in English. They are basically small fishes and are in various types namely Siavonga, Mpulungu, Chisense etc. Most Kapenta species is named according to the name of the water body which it came from. There are many ways of preparing them but the most popular way is by frying. Kapenta is usually enjoyed with nshima and a side vegetable like Pumpkin leaves (Chibwabwa) or cooked okra. Kapenta can be found in many local restaurants and usually upon request in lodges and hotels.(Recipe here)
Vimbombo (Cow hooves)
This is a very sumptuous Zambian food meal that can be enjoyed with Nshima and dried cooked beans. Vimbombo are basically the feet of a cow, they are very tasty when cooked and the popular way to eat them is by mixing or eating from the same plate with dried beans. They take quite a long time to prepare though most restaurants still usually have them in stock.
Dried beans is also very common in Zambian restaurants though it also takes hours to prepare. It is very nutritious yet tasty. It’s perfect for vegetarians and vegans as it can serve as both a main dish and a side dish when served with nshima. There are different types of beans but they are usually distinguished by colour that is white beans, brown, red, black etc. depending on which region they are from.
Tilapia fish is common in many water bodies in Zambia. There different ways of preparing tilapia include smoking, frying, roasting, grilling and boiling. The most common method in Zambian food restaurants is frying, grilling and boiling. It is served with nshima and a vegetable side dish.
Village chicken is just chicken but the African kind. It is usually not very soft due to the manner in which it is reared (a very natural way). It is very tasty and is prepared usually by making a chicken curry. Village Chicken is usually boiled for a few hours to make it soft meat. It can also be enjoyed with nshima or with rice.
Visashi (vegetables in peanut sauce)
Visashi is a term that is used to describe basically all Zambian food dishes that are prepared in peanut sauce. The most common visashi are vegetables which include pumpkin leaves, cassava leaves, lumanda (a hibiscus plant), and other common Zambian vegetables. They are prepared by making a peanut powder and adding the powder to the vegetable while it boils and until it simmers. My favorite visashi dish is Lumanda, and you can check out the recipe here.
Offals or tripe are the insides of a cow (stomach). They usually have the lungs, intestines and a doormat-like piece that is called “ichifu”. Offals are not only tasty but very interesting stuff. They are quite fatty so I would suggest not to eat them so much. The fat tends to stick together and solidify even before one begins to eat. The best way to eat them is with nshima.
Dried Fish Stew
Zambian food cuisine includes different types of fish stews including dried fish. The most common way to store fish in Zambia is by sun drying or smoke drying. Whether small or big in size, dried fish is tasty. Most Zambian restaurants prepare the big type of dried fish in gravy. This is a definite must try.
Vinkubala (Mopane worms)
The thought of eating caterpillars may make you feel anything from adventurous to uncomfortable. Though they may not be very popular on the Zambian food restaurant menu, they are an important source of protein. Studies have shown that a portion of edible caterpillars competes effectively with a portion of meat or fish in terms of nutritional value.Therefore, if you are the adventurous type, this is one dish you definitely must try.Besides, Vinkubala are so tasty that they are some people’s favorite dish (talking about myself.
Chikanda (African Polony)
Chikanda popularly known as African Polony is one of the most delicious Zambian foods you just need to taste. It is meatless, purely a vegetable. A long time ago, it was usually just sold as street food or at the local market. However, over the years , Chikanda has gained popularity in supermarkets and even five star hotels. You can now buy Chikanda at the deli section of the major supermarkets in Zambia such as Shoprite, Spar and Pick n Pay.
These are just some of the Zambian food dishes you can expect. i have not covered much here therefore a future article will discuss my favorite restaurants in Zambia, especially the ones in Livingstone town near the Victoria Falls area.
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