Zambian cuisine


Zambian cuisine is the national cuisine of the state of Zambia, located in South Africa. Zambia is a landlocked country located between Angola, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Tanzania, Malawi, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, and Namibia.

Characteristic foods

Plant foods
The staple food of Zambia is corn.

Of vegetables, spinach, tomatoes, onions, sweet potatoes, okra, pumpkin, peanuts, or manioc, and pumpkin leaves or sweet potato leaves are commonly eaten.

Zambia’s traditional seasonal fruits include wild mushmulla (masuku), which tastes like plums, ziziphus (masau), which tastes like sour apples, and baobab seeds (mawuyu).

Meat and Fish

Eating various insects is popular in Zambian cuisine. These include stink bugs and mopane caterpillars. Caterpillars are a delicacy in Zambia. They are sold in some markets and are even served as an appetizer in some restaurants. Caterpillars are usually served boiled or fried, but they can also be served raw.

In eastern rural Zambia, there is a traditional dish not found anywhere else: mice. Yes, regular mice. Here this dish is considered a delicacy and is served along with nshima for guests and other distinguished people. The mice are gutted, boiled, salted, and then roasted over a fire.

Dairy products

Zambian cuisine


Chidulo is a spice made from burnt, dried banana leaves, bean stalks, or corn stalks and leaves, then this ash is collected, diluted with water, and strained.

The result is a liquid that tastes like vinegar. Chidulo is commonly used in dishes of green leafy vegetables or mushrooms.

Kutendela is a powder of crushed raw peanuts which is added to the chidulo sauce.

Traditional dishes

  • Bread
  • Soups

Main courses

  • Nshima, porridge made from ground white maize, is one of the main dishes of Zambian cuisine. By the way, its counterpart in Zimbabwe is called sadza, and in South Africa it is called milli papa. For breakfast nshima is often served alone with milk, and for main meals nshima is most often served with meat or fish. Nshima is usually eaten by tearing off pieces with the right hand. In traditional communities, the process of making nshima is a lengthy process that includes drying the corn, sorting the kernels, chopping and then cooking.
  • Ifisashi is another common food in Zambia. It is a type of stew made with greens and peanuts, served with nshima. Ifisashi can be vegetarian or with added meat.
  • Ubwali, a thick porridge made from millet, is the main dish of the Bemba people of Zambia.
  • Umunani: a stew of meat, fish, insects, or vegetables served with Ubwali.
  • Kapenta – Small dried fish caught in the Tanganyika. Kapenta is usually salted, dried, and then fried with onions and tomatoes.
  • Ifinkubala is the name of the caterpillar in Zambia. They are usually fried in oil, or first boiled for a few minutes and then fried in oil and served with tomatoes, onions, and nshima.
  • Michopo is grilled meat. It is usually beef or goat meat with chili or onions, tomatoes and potatoes.

Salads and appetizers

  • Chibwabwa – A puree of stewed pumpkin leaves.
  • Katapa – A sauce made of sweet potato leaves stewed with onions and tomatoes.
  • Delele – sauce made of green vegetables.
  • Inswa – flying ants eaten as a snack or with nshima. After it rains, they are harvested, their wings torn off, and their bodies roasted in oil. They are rich in protein.


Vitumbuwa are fritters or fried balls of sweet yeast dough. They are often sold at markets in Zambia, wrapped in newspaper. Vitumbuwa is a common snack for afternoon tea.

Chikanda is a muffin made with wild orchid tubers, peanuts, chili peppers, and baking soda. It is cooked to the consistency of a meatloaf and served hot or cold.


Munkoyo is one of Zambia’s favorite non-alcoholic beverages. It is made and sold absolutely everywhere.

Its other name is Ibwatu. Although the details of munkoyo recipes may vary, the basic ingredients and preparation procedures are always the same. The two main ingredients in munkoyo are cornmeal and the roots of the munkoyo tree, from which the drink takes its name. The roots are crushed, dried, and mixed with the cornmeal.

The mixture is poured with water and left to mature overnight, resulting in the creation of this drink. The mixture can be drunk immediately after it is made or left to ferment for several days. The people of Zambia often refer to it as “sweet beer.”


People in Zambia love to drink beer. Traditional beer is made from corn, which is brewed both at home and commercially in Lusaka. Chibuku and Shake-Shake are popular brands.

Other popular beers are Mosi and Rhino.

Serving and Etiquette

In Zambian culture, only nshima represents a complete meal. All other foods eaten between two meals are considered a snack, but are not considered a complete meal.

If you meet a Zambian and ask him if he has eaten, he will say no if he has not had nshima that day, even if he has had a large plate of vegetables or peanuts.

For Zambians, making nshima is an emotional commitment with countless rituals, songs, and customs.

Leave a Reply