How to Cook Nshima- Zambian Staple food

Nshima is the staple food in Zambia. It is made from mealie meal that is maize (corn) that has been processed into powder. It is prepared by mixing only 2 ingredients, the mealie meal and water and boiled and stirred until it thickens. Today, we are going to learn how to cook Nshima food the Zambian way.

How to eat Nshima is by making a ball using your hands and pressing it in the middle to make a spoon-like shape. You then scoop the relish that is served with it and eat them together.

How to cook Nshima the Zambia way

nshima food

You will need;


Mealie meal/ Corn meal


A pot


  1. Heat some water in a pot or kettle until it boils
  2. Make a paste by adding one cup of mealie meal or corn meal and 2 cups of water
  3. Fill two thirds of hot water in a pot and the paste
  4. Stir and reduce heat to medium
  5. Cover the pot only halfway and let it cook for 15-20 minutes
  6. After it cooks, start adding mealie meal bit by bit, stirring vigorously (known in local language as “kutyakula” or “ukunaya”) and continuously adding the mealie meal until it thickens a bit. (Do not make it too thick)
  7. Cover the pot for about 3 minutes
  8. Stir vigorously again and let it stand for a few minutes
  9. The nshima is ready to serve
  10. Serve with any of your favorite stews like beef and  dry fish and vegetables

Happy Eating!

Cooking tip

When the nshima starts to cook after mixing the paste with water, sometimes it tends to overflow. Make sure you only cover it half way and place the cooking stick in a way that it is between the lid and the pot. It can also boil vigorously so make sure to keep your face away from the pot for safety reasons.

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