Zambia’s Most Popular Recipes


Zambian cuisine reflects the country’s diverse cultural heritage and abundance of local ingredients. From hearty stews to flavorful grilled meats, here are some of Zambia’s most popular recipes that showcase its culinary richness:

1. Nshima with Ndiwo

Nshima is Zambia’s staple food, similar to a thick porridge made from maize meal (cornmeal) and served with various relishes. Ndiwo is a common relish that accompanies nshima, typically made from vegetables such as leafy greens (like rape or pumpkin leaves) cooked with tomatoes and sometimes with pieces of meat or fish.

2. Chikanda (African Polony)

Chikanda, also known as African Polony, is a unique Zambian dish made from the tuber of the African wild orchid (called “African potato” locally) and groundnuts (peanuts). The ingredients are pounded into a paste, mixed with spices, and then steamed to form a sausage-like roll. It’s often served as a snack or appetizer.

3. Ifisashi

Ifisashi is a popular dish made from boiled peanuts (groundnuts) cooked with spinach or other leafy greens, seasoned with tomatoes, onions, and sometimes a bit of peanut butter for richness. It’s a nutritious and flavorful vegetarian dish commonly enjoyed across Zambia.

4. Zambian Grilled Chicken (Kaleza)

Kaleza refers to grilled chicken marinated in a blend of local spices, including chili, garlic, ginger, and sometimes a bit of lemon juice for tanginess. The chicken is usually grilled over an open flame or charcoal until tender and smoky, often served with nshima and a side of vegetables.

5. Zambian Beef Stew (Zambeef)

Zambeef is a hearty stew made with beef, onions, tomatoes, and a variety of spices. The meat is typically simmered until tender in a flavorful broth, sometimes thickened with ground peanuts. It’s a comforting dish often served with nshima or rice.

6. Mandazi

Mandazi are sweet, fried doughnuts popular across Zambia and other parts of East Africa. They are made from a dough of flour, sugar, coconut milk, and sometimes flavored with cardamom or nutmeg. Mandazi are deep-fried until golden brown and are enjoyed as a snack or with tea.

7. Chibwabwa (Pumpkin Leaves)

Chibwabwa are pumpkin leaves cooked in various ways, either sautéed with onions and tomatoes or simmered in a peanut sauce. They are a nutritious and versatile ingredient in Zambian cuisine, often served as a side dish alongside nshima and protein.

8. Zambian Fish Stew (Kapenta)

Kapenta is a small freshwater fish found in Lake Tanganyika and other rivers in Zambia. The fish is typically dried and then cooked in a stew with tomatoes, onions, and a blend of spices. It’s a popular dish enjoyed for its rich, savory flavors.

Zambia’s culinary traditions are deeply rooted in local ingredients and cultural practices, making each dish a flavorful representation of the country’s diverse heritage. Whether savoring a bowl of nshima with ndiwo or indulging in a plate of grilled kaleza, exploring Zambian cuisine promises a delightful culinary journey.