Zambian Chikanda : A Delightful Snack To Try

Chikanda, a traditional food from Zambia and other parts of Africa, is made from the tuber of the African orchid. This unique plant-based dish has been a delicacy in the region for decades. In this article, I will explore more about  Zambian Chikanda, its ingredients, texture and taste of this traditional African food.

What is Chikanda?

Popularly known as African Polony, Chikanda is a traditional Zambian food made from the tuber of the African orchid.  These tubers are wild tubers. They are dried, ground, and mixed with water to form a paste, which is then flavored with salt and soda cooked in Groundnut flour.

Chikanda is a popular food  among Zambians and has been considered a delicacy. It is  commonly sold on streets and in local markets. Most big supermarkets have now added it in their delis. It can be enjoyed with some chilli sauce as a snack, with nshima as a side dish (to serve it alongside nshima, you can further fry it in tomatoes, onions, garlic and other spices) and also as a salad. Chikanda is referred to as “African Polony” due to its meaty taste.

What is Chikanda in English?

Chikanda is commonly known in English as African wild orchid.

What is the scientific name for Chikanda ?

Orchid species originally reported as ingredients for chikanda are Disa robusta N.E.Br. and Satyrium buchananii Schltr

Disa robusta is a species of terrestrial orchid that is found in eastern and southern Africa. It has large, showy flowers that are pink, purple, or white in color.

Satyrium buchananii is a species of terrestrial orchid that is found in southern Africa. It has small, inconspicuous flowers that are greenish-yellow in color.

See also  10 Zambian Vegetarian Recipes You Will Enjoy

What does  Zambian Chikanda taste like?

It has a unique and distinct taste that is difficult to describe which is somewhat of a  nutty flavor and a slightly meaty flavor. The taste can be likened to that of polony.

The flavor of the snack is often enhanced by adding  salt and chili powder.

What is it’s texture?

Chikanda also has a texture like that of polony which is soft and smooth. It is a  uniform texture that is similar to bologna or salami.

What are the ingredients for cooking Chikanda?

The traditional ingredients for making chikanda in Zambia include:

  • Chikanda tubers
  • groundnuts (in powder form)
  • Salt
  • Some chili powder
  • soda
  • A sieve
  • A charcoal brazier

How to Make Zambian Chikanda:


  1. Wash the tubers in clean cold water and then dry it on a tray for some time
  2. After it has dried, pound the chikanda using  a mortar and pestle and sieve out the fine powder. Repeat the process of pounding and sieving until most of it is in powder form.
  3. Pour some water (2-3 cups) in a medium pot and add the powdered groundnuts (at least a cup or enough to form a light paste)
  4. Put the pot on a charcoal brazier and stir continuously till the groundnuts are cooked.
  5. Add the Chikanda powder bit by bit , and stir continuously till the paste becomes thick. Also add some salt and chilli
  6. Dissolve the ¾ teaspoon of soda into water and add into the mixture, stirring until it becomes very thick
  7. Continue to stir vigorously with a wooden spoon until the chikanda is cooked and turns brown in colour.
  8. Cover for 20-30 minutes.
  9. Remove it from the fire and get some of the charcoal from your brazier and put it on top of the lid of your pot. (turn the lid upside down) so that the Chikanda can bake and brown on top as well. Leave this charcoal for at least 30-45 minutes
See also  How to Cook Fresh Kapenta-Zambian Food

Allow to cool and it is ready to serve

What does Chikanda powder look like?

Zambian Chikanda Powder

The powder is a not so-fine, brownish-colored powder that is made from the dried and ground tubers of the African orchid. The powder is typically light brown  with a slightly coarse texture.

Chikanda powder is the base ingredient for making the dish.