6 Zambian Traditional foods you must try

Zambia is a country rich in food culture. It has some mouth-watering traditional dishes that you can easily find in restaurants, lodges and even in some five star hotels. The cuisine comprises of a lot of Zambian  traditional foods 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 6 foods to try 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.


Nshima. Zambian Food
Photo by @bibiangreen


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.





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.
Recipe here)

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Caterpillars or Mopani worms (Vinkubala)


The thought of eating caterpillars may make you feel anything from adventurous to cringy. Though they may not be very popular on the Zambian traditional foods 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.


Beef Offals or Tripe

Beef Tripe. Offals. Matumbo

Beef 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”.  Beef Offals are very tasty. 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.

Tilapia Fish

Tilapia Fish

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.




Kapenta. Matemba. Zambian food

Kapenta is a type of small fish. It is found in the lakes. The common types of Kapenta are Siavonga and Mpulungu named after the areas they are harvested from. Kapenta is a tasty dish that is served with nshima and a side vegetable dish.