The corn flour’s dough, maize, is the main dish of Zambian cuisine. It is one of the staples of the swahili food tradition, but changes as it assumes the influences of local gastronomies. So you will find it in Zambia as well, but under different shapes, uses, flavours and mixes.
The local name for maize is Nshima and there is a wide variety of recipes based on it, or deriving from it. You cannot enjoy the Zambian food if you do not try Nshima, sometimes. And if you do, you will love it. Also because you might appreciate maize under a very unexpected version: beer!
If you love fish, the Zambian cuisine tradition will surprise you. There is no ocean, here, but there are many small lakes and a part of a big one, Lake Tanganyka. Lake fish has become an important staple of local food and you do not really need to go on the lake’s shore to find it on your dish.
Zambia food, the typical recipes
Maize, or Nshima, is the typical food of Zambian cuisine. You will have great choice in tasting it, both as a traditional Ugali recipe or as delicious soups or stews. It accompanies vegetables, especially mushrooms, but also bananas, peanuts, fish and chicken. The Chibwabwa is the national maize dish. It consists of Nshima mixed and cooked with pumpkin, or pumpkin’s leaves into a rich and delicious stew. Chidulo is another interesting recipe: based on dried banana leaves, it also includes bean stalks.
You better always ask what is it inside your Nshima dish. This delicious maize, in fact, can also accompany a recipe based on fried worms (caterpillars, in particular) and onions! Worms in Zambia are considered a perfect snack, just like bugs. You may taste them, if you dare, but not all tourists like this aspect of their traditional cuisine!
Zambia food you must taste
If you are going on safari through the beautiful Zambian territory, do not miss some of the best food recipes of the nation. You can find them everywhere you go, and they can be a nice surprise. Chikanda, for example. It looks like a meatloaf but there is no meat at all, inside: it is a mix of orchid tubers, chili, peanuts and baking soda, prepared like a dough and served both cold or cooked, and warm.
If Michopo is the classic barbecue, you must try the Kapentas. These are small lake fish, looking like sardines and tasting quite the same. The Zambians eat them fried, roasted, in a stew with Nshima or with vegetables. Of course you cannot miss the local beer. Nshima’s maize in fact can also be fermented and used for making a delicious and unique kind of beer. Worth the taste!
Where to eat
The capital city, Lusaka, is of course the place with the best choice as for the restaurants and street food with typical Zambian food. You can try either the most elegant restaurants or the outskirts’ homerun places. If you are looking for fish and for Kapentas, the best place to try is Mpulungu, along the Lake Tanganyka shores, or a few kilometers up north Kasaba Bay.
Livingstone, the southernmost city of the nation – on the border line with Zimbabwe – is a very famous safari point, and its restaurants are important and well known. This is the best place for tasting both traditional and international food in Zambia!