10 Most Popular Zambian Foods

Zambia is famous for a lot of things, and among them are its rich and exotic dishes. Like many other African countries, Zambian foods are delicious, and you want to have more once you have a taste. If you’re looking to learn more about meals in Zambia for whatsoever reason, we have highlighted some of the famous dishes in Zambia in this article.

What foods do Zambians eat? Most Zambian foods consist of meat, vegetables, and grains. Here is a list of some of the foods eaten by Zambians:

  • Nshima
  • Chikanda
  • Fisashi
  • Ifisashi
  • Kalembula, etc.

Sounds strange, right? Yes, Zambians foods are deeply rooted in their culture, and the foods listed above are mainly traditional. If you would love to learn more about these foods, we discussed ten popular foods in Zambia below.

10 Popular Foods in Zambia

1. Nshima

Zambian Foods - Nshima
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Starting off this list is the popular Nshima. Nshima is an essential food in the Zambian diets, and it’s found in almost all meals. It is gotten from ground white maize and prepared into a thick-smooth mold. This food is usually served with soups, sauces, or vegetables, called Ndiwo, in Zambia.

Nshima is preferably eaten by hand, mostly the right hand. Small bits of it are cut and used to scoop the soup or vegetable. It is suitable for lunch or dinner.

2. Chikanda

Zambian Foods
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Chikanda is the vegetarian brother of the popular Polony. It has been termed African Polony by Zambians. This meal is prepared with wild dry orchid tubers, peanuts, chili, and baking soda. It has been ranked as one of the tops among Zambian foods. 

The Bemba tribe in north-east Zambia were the first people known for the Chikanda, but now it has gain national recognition—the whole country. Chikanda is mostly snacked on or used as a dessert.

ALSO READ: 10 Popular African Breakfast Foods Ideas

3. Ifisashi

Zambia Foods - Ifisashi
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A combination of vegetable and peanut may sound strange to you, but not the ever-creative Zambians. Ifisashi is a vegetable sauce that is prepared with any edible green plants (pumpkin leaf sweet potato leaf, spinach, etc.) and peanut. The peanut is milled into a fine powder and added to a boiling pot of greens, onions, and tomato. This mixture is left to cook until moisture is reduced, leaving you with a tasty sauce.

Ifisashi is mostly served alongside Nshima. Sometimes, meat and other condiments are added to give a different flavor.

4. Delele

Zambian Foods - Delele
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Delele is the Zambian term for okra. It is a thick traditional vegetable with the same name that gives a slimy texture just as okra. It is easy to prepare. The chopped okra is added to a pot of boiling water, with chopped onions, tomatoes, and bicarbonates of soda. Delele is often eaten with Nshima.

Delele (the vegetable) can be dried, but it is mostly cooked fresh. This dish is also eaten in Zimbabwe and north-eastern Botswana.

5. Chibwabwa

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Vegetables are very important to the Zambians, and among these vegetables is the pumpkin leaf. Chibwabwa is a vegetable sauce made from pumpkin leaves and groundnuts. Although pumpkin leaves can be eaten raw or in salads, Zambians like to cook them with other ingredients.

Other ingredients used in the preparation of Chibwabwa are tomatoes and onions. Each of these is boiled in water until it becomes thick and creamy. Chibwabwa is mostly prepared during traditional ceremonies and served with Nshima.

ALSO READ: What Fruits Do Africans Eat?

6. Kalembula

Foods in Zambia - Kalembula
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This Zambian cuisine is prepared with plenty of vegetables. Kalembula is another delicious Ndiwo dish. It is prepared with sweet potato leaves, onions, and tomatoes. The leaves are thoroughly washed, chopped and sauteed in a pot with olive oil, onions and tomatoes, salt and little water until the leaves are soft. This vegetable sauce is mostly served with Nshima.

Sweet potato leaves are edible and can also be consumed raw or cooked. They are also packed with several vitamins, antioxidants, and folic acid.

7. Kapenta Stew

Zambian Meals - Kapenta Stew
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This is one of the popular Zambian foods you want to try out. Kapenta is a small sardine-like fish that is found in Lake Tanganyika in Zambia. The fish is about 7-10cm long and is usually sundried and eaten as a snack. They can also be sauteed with tomatoes, onions, and spices and served with Nishima.

8. Ifinkubala

Zambian Food - Ifinkubala
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It is also known as Masonja or Mopane. They are caterpillars from the Emperor moth. During the rainy season in Zambia, these worms are found clinging on trees where they are picked off. Next, they are put together, and the tails pinched or slimy green fluids. These fluids are squeezed and boiled in salt water and kept in the sun until they are dry or smoked to give it a unique flavor.

This dish is mostly eaten as a snack but can also be cooked in tomato sauce, onions with spices, and served with Nshima or rice. They are also eaten in other African countries like South Africa, Zimbabwe, and Botswana.

9. Curried Gazelle

Curried Gazelle Zambian Dishes
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Gazelles are found abundantly on the vast lands on Zambia, so it is not strange that they are included in the Zambian cuisine. Curried Gazelle is a curry that is prepared with healthy gazelle meat. The gazelle meat, onions, garlic, chilies, sliced plantain, tomato paste, coconut milk, and spices are simmered in a pot with low heat to a desired level. It is served hot with white rice.

10. Michopo

Zambian food
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This is an outdoor snack in Zambia. Michopo is roasted beef or goat meat served with chili, onions, tomatoes, and potatoes. The roasted meat is usually grilled outside and accompanied by a bottle of the popular local larger, Mosi.

Wrap Up

Are you planning on traveling to Zambia, or you just like to have a taste of their favorite dishes? Either way, if you’re going to visit Zambia soon, you already know some of the traditional dishes—in case you want to give it a try. Also, if you wish to have a taste of Zambian foods—perhaps you’re of Zambian descent and have not been home for a long time, you can visit any African restaurant near you to request any of these dishes. You might be lucky enough to find the one you want.