Zambia is a country in Africa rich and diverse in its cuisine. Zambian food is characterized by its unique blend of flavours and dishes that is influenced the various tribes around the country. Zambian cuisine has something for everyone. In this article, we will be exploring the top 20 most popular foods in Zambia.
Nshima is Zambia’s staple food and is eaten mostly for lunch or dinner. It is the first among the most popular foods in Zambia because it is eaten almost every day. It is a type of thick porridge made from white maize flour and is usually served with vegetables, meat, or fish which are called relish. Nshima is typically cooked by mixing the maize flour with warm water until it forms a thick dough-like consistency. The dough is then rolled into balls and served alongside the relish dishes.
Nshima is not just a food in Zambia; it’s a cultural symbol that represents unity and togetherness. It is often eaten communally, with people sitting together and sharing the accompanying dishes. Nshima is an excellent source of energy and is very filling.
Ifisashi is a traditional Zambian dish made from typically most green vegetables such as pumpkin leaves, Chinese cabbage, or Lumanda and is cooked in groundnut flour. It is usually served with nshima. Ifisashi is rich in vitamins and minerals, and the groundnut flour sauce adds a nice texture and flavor to the dish. The dish is usually prepared by boiling the vegetables and then adding the flour, which is made by pounding/grinding peanuts peanuts and then sifting out the flour.
Ifisashi is not only delicious but also a healthy choice for those who want to eat more vegetables with added nutrients. It is also a great vegetarian option for those who want to avoid meat.
Fried fish is a very common dish in Zambia. Fish is among the most popular foods in Zambia as the country is blessed with many water bodies. The fish is usually seasoned with salt, and then fried in hot oil until crispy. Fried fish is usually served with nshima and a side of vegetables.
Fried fish is also a good source of protein and essential fatty acids, making it a healthy choice for those who want to maintain a balanced diet. It is also an excellent alternative for those who want to avoid red meat.
Beef stew is a hearty and filling dish that is popular in Zambia. The dish is usually made by boiling the beef and then frying it to make it turn brown. You then simmer the beef, onions and tomatoes in a flavorful broth until the meat is tender and juicy. The stew is often served with nshima or rice and a side of vegetables.
Beef stew is an excellent source of protein and iron, making it an ideal choice for those who want to build muscle or maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Kapenta is a type of small freshwater fish that is popular in Zambia. It is usually sun-dried for preservation throughout the year. Kapenta can also be kept fresh and cooked by frying or boiling. The dried Kapenta is usually fried with tomatoes and onions and served with nshima and a side of vegetables .
Kapenta is an excellent source of protein and essential fatty acids. The fish is also rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which have been linked to improved brain function and heart health.
Vinkubala, also known as mopane worms, are among the popular foods in Zambia. They are the caterpillars and are usually harvested from mopane trees. Vinkubala are usually dried and then cooked by boiling or frying. The worms are often served as a snack or as a side dish alongside nshima.
Vinkubala are a good source of protein and are also rich in calcium and iron. Despite their appearance, they are a delicacy in Zambia and are enjoyed by many locals.
Chikanda, also known as African polony, is a type of dish made from ground peanuts and the chikanda tuber/orchid. The dish is usually cooked like nshima and then allowed to bake usually on a charcoal stove and then sliced and served. It can be eaten as a snack or served with nshima.
Chikanda is a great alternative for vegetarians as it tastes like meat but is not meat.
Okra, also known as delele, is a vegetable that is popular in Zambia. It is usually cooked with tomatoes and a teaspoon of soda. The soda adds a unique flavor to the dish. Okra is often served as a side dish or as part of a larger meal with nshima.
Okra is a low-calorie vegetable and is also rich in vitamins and minerals such as vitamin C, potassium, and magnesium. However, It is believed that adding soda to the okra takes out most of its nutrients.
Vitumbuwa, also known as fritters, are a popular snack in Zambia. They are made from a batter of flour, sugar, and yeast and are usually deep-fried until golden brown. Vitumbuwa are often served with tea or as a dessert.
Vitumbuwa are a high-calorie snack, but they are also rich in carbohydrates and dietary fiber, making them a good source of energy. They are also an excellent treat for those with a sweet tooth.
Dry Fish Stew
Dry fish stew is a popular dish in Zambia. The dish is made using dried fish, tomatoes and onions. The fish is usually soaked in warm water for a few minutes to soften and clean it before cooking. It is then boiled for hours to make sure all the fish bones are soft and it makes a nice thick gravy. It is served alongside nshima and vegetables.
Offals, also known as tripe, are the internal organs of animals such as cows and goats. They are a popular ingredient in Zambian cuisine and are usually cooked in a stew with tomatoes and onions. Offals are often served with nshima with a side vegetable dish. They are known as “Matumbo and Ichifu in Zambian language”.
Village Chicken Stew
Village chicken stew is a traditional dish in Zambia, especially in rural areas. The dish is made using free-range chickens that are usually smaller than commercial chickens. The chicken is cooked in a stew with tomatoes and onions. The stew is often served with nshima.
Dry beans stew is among the popular foods in Zambia because it is widely grown around the country and has many varieties. This is a nutritious dish among Zambian local cuisines. It is a healthy alternative to meat for African vegetarians can be enjoyed with Nshima and rice. It is quite easy to prepare. The dish is made using dried beans, tomatoes and onions. The beans are usually soaked in water for a few hours before cooking. The stew is often served with nshima.
Lumanda is a vegetable very popular in Zambia. It is a very tasty dish among Zambian recipes. It has a natural sour taste which contributes to it’s delicious taste especially if prepared with powdered groundnuts. Lumanda in English is known as Hibiscus sadbiriffa, well…that is the scientific name. Lumanda is usually cooked in peanut flour as ifisashi and served alongside nshima.
Vimbombo, also known as trotters, are the feet of animals such as cows, sheep, and pigs. They are a popular ingredient in Zambian cuisine and are usually cooked in a stew with tomatoes and onions. They take quite long to cook and tend to be sticky when eating. Vimbombo are often served with nshima and a side vegetable.
Vimbombo are a good source of protein, collagen, and other nutrients.
Chibwabwa, also known as pumpkin leaves, are a popular vegetable in Zambia. They are usually cooked with tomatoes and onions. They are also a popular dish for making ifisashi. The dish is often served with nshima.
Pumpkin leaves are a great source of vitamins A and C, iron, calcium, and other nutrients. They are also low in calories, making them an ideal choice for those who want to maintain a healthy diet.
Kalembula/Sweet Potato Leaves
Kalembula, also known as sweet potato leaves, are a popular vegetable in Zambia. It can be best enjoyed with Nshima (Pap) and a protein dish like beef, fish and Kapenta. It is very easy to cook and does not take up a long time. The best way to cook Kalembula (Sweet potato leaves) is by frying. It is also very nutritious like many green vegetables.
Sweet potato leaves are a great source of vitamins A and C, iron, calcium, and other nutrients.
Mushrooms, locally known as bowa, are a popular ingredient in Zambian cuisine. They are many varieties of edible mushrooms in Zambia including “tente”. They are usually cooked in a stew with tomatoes and onions. The stew is often served with nshima.
Mushrooms are a great source of protein, fiber, vitamins B and D, and other nutrients.
Groundnuts, also known as peanuts, are a popular snack and ingredient in Zambian cuisine. They are often roasted or boiled and served as a snack. Groundnuts are also used in cooking, especially in stews and sauces. They are a great source of protein, healthy fats, fiber, and other nutrients.
Sweet potatoes, also known as kandolo, are a popular root tuber in Zambia. They are usually boiled or fried. At times, they can be cooked in peanut butter sauce and are referred to as ‘ Kandolo ya Kusashila”.
Sweet potatoes are normally eaten for breakfast in most Zambian homes.
Zambia’s cuisine is diverse, and the country has a rich culinary tradition that reflects its history, culture, and geography. From nshima and ifisashi to fried fish and kapenta, Zambia’s cuisine is a celebration of its natural resources, creativity, and hospitality.
Whether you are a food enthusiast or a health-conscious eater, Zambia’s cuisine has something to offer. With its rich flavors, wholesome ingredients, and nutritional value, Zambian food is a feast for the senses and a treat for the body and soul.
So, next time you visit Zambia, make sure to try some of these most popular foods in Zambia and explore the culinary treasures of this beautiful country.