Popular Zimbabwean Ingredients For Recipes

Cooking in modern Zimbabwe kitchen is one of the most fun things you should experience. We will cover Zimbabwean traditional food ingredients people use for recipes. Discover their common vegetables here and be sure to try some! The rich cultural diversity and multi-ethnical groups scattered across Zimbabwe inherited and adopted traditional food recipes and ingredients from various local cultures. Zimbabwe food recipes depend on locally sourced Zimbabwe food products. Most people buy it from food markets such as Mbare Musika in Harare. However, most people from rural areas depend on food they grow in their backyard. 

Cooking in modern Zimbabwe kitchen is one of the most fun things you should experience. We will cover  Zimbabwean traditional food ingredients people use for recipes. The rich cultural diversity and multi-ethnical groups scattered across Zimbabwe inherited and adopted traditional food recipes and ingredients from various local cultures. . Zimbabwe food recipes depend on locally sourced Zimbabwe food products, most people buy it from food markets such as Mbare Musika in Harare. However, most people from rural areas depend on food they grow in their backyard. 

Zimbabwe traditional food history has evolved over the years through the mixing and mingling of cultures. Certainly, vegetarians can expect diversity there.

Sadza: A Beloved Staple

Sadza is undoubtedly Zimbabwe’s popular staple carbohydrate. It is prepared from mealie-meal and water: Mealie-meal is a by-product of maize (corn).  However, Tonga and Zambia tribes in Zimbabwe prefer sadza made from ground millet. Meanwhile, less traditional families prefer processed mealie-meal known as pearlanta. Trust the elders on this, wholesome, minimally processed food is best. Evident in the image below, millet Sadza is a common Zimbabwe food.

Sadza is undoubtedly Zimbabwe’s popular staple carbohydrate. It is prepared from mealie-meal and water: Mealie-meal is a by-product of maize (corn).  However, Tonga and Zambia tribes in Zimbabwe prefer sadza made from ground millet. Meanwhile, less traditional families prefer processed mealie-meal known as pearlanta. Trust the elders on this, wholesome, minimally processed food is best. Evident of the image below, millet Sadza is a common Zimbabwe food.
Photo credit: Beauty04

To Process Excessively or Not?

Refined corn meal is sold under the brand name Pearlanta. The refined cornmeal popularized as Pearlanta has a white color since the maize husk is removed. Corn is whitened during processing. Most Zimbabweans prefer the nutritional benefits that mealie (corn) meal provides. Did you know ground millet has a grayish color? The difference between refined versus unrefined corn is similar to brown rice versus refined white rice.

Refined corn meal is sold under the brand name Pearlanta. The refined cornmeal popularized as Pearlanta has a white color since the maize husk is removed, and corn is whiten during processing. Most Zimbabweans prefer the nutritional benefits  that mealie (corn) meal provides. Did you know ground millet has a grayish color? The difference between refined versus unrefined corn is similar to brown rice versus refined white rice.

Coincidentally, if you enter any Zimbabwean home or kitchen, you won’t miss a packet of mealie meal.

Delish Zimbabwe food products that go well with sadza are: Rape (green vegetables shown in picture), peanut butter, soya mince( also known as chunks in Matabeleland), or sugar beans.

Samp- Corn Kernels

Samp is dried corn kernels, which is also called Amagqutshu in Zimbabwe. The Ndebele people who reside in Southwest of Zimbabwe love this traditional food. The word Samp is synonymous with corn; the resulting dish can look like chopped maize.

For breakfast and lunch, Zimbabwean mothers cook Samp for their families as the dish is both nourishing and easy to prepare. When prepared, the starchy residue becomes a base of the sauce, to which seasoning or sugar can be added for more flavor. Breakfast or dinner? You decide.

Samp is dried corn kernels, which is also called Amagqutshu in Zimbabwe.  The Ndebele people who reside in Southwest of Zimbabwe love this traditional food. The word Samp is synonymous with corn; the resulting dish can look like chopped maize.
Photo credit: Answers Africa

Groundnuts(peanuts), a common traditional product, complement the nutritional value of Samp. It gives it an earthy flavor which is consistent with most Zimbabwean food. Shona mothers prefer adding Nyemba (small beans) to the Samp to make another popular dish called Mutakura. Both dishes are flavorful and nutritious. Moreover, the ingredients are readily available and affordable. Cha-Ching!

Soya mince

Soya mince is soy protein popularly known as chunks in Zimbabwe. This is one of the best protein sources in Zimbabwe food for many individuals. Chunks (aka soy protein) are fairly affordable, when fried in oil, it releases a rich aroma. Did you know plant-based or Vegetarian families eat chunks with Sadza every other day? 

Soya mince is  soy protein popularly known as chunks in Zimbabwe. This  is one of the best protein sources in Zimbabwe food for many individuals. Chunks (aka soy protein) are fairly affordable, when fried in oil, it releases a rich aroma. Did you know plant-based or Vegetarian families eat chunks with Sadza every other day? 
Soy Plant-protein

As you can tell, Zimbabwean food is fairly hearty and inviting. Ndebele people from Matabeleland prefer boiling Soya mince in salted water before adding oil and tomatoes. On the other hand, people from Mashonaland prefer adding green leafy vegetables such as Covo and Rape (green vegetables).

Sugar beans

You can’t beat the taste of sugar beans with green shallots and tomatoes on a cozy afternoon in Zimbabwe. Note, Sugar beans is the common name for cranberry beans, there is no sugar is added. Sugar beans are quite flavorful and you bet it is also hearty and nutritious. Additionally, the beans are rich in protein and fiber. A common Zimbabwean food recipe many locals love is sugar beans in curry sauce. The only ingredients you will need for this Zimbabwean recipe are sugar beans, water for boiling, cooking oil, shallots, and tomatoes. Easy!

In Summary

Common Zimbabwean staple ingredients to have in your pantry in order to make authentic Zimbabwean food are:

  • Corn = ground(mealie meal), dried kernels
  • Ground Millet
  • Rape (green vegetables), Covo
  • Soy Protein(aka Soya chunks)
  • Beans
  • Groundnuts (peanuts)
  • Curry

Stay tuned for more of this series of local food products used in Zimbabwean cooking. Are there any Zimbabweans reading this article? Comment below if we missed something. Like, share, and let us get the conversation started.

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