In the Kitchen: Recipes from Zambia

Rosemary, 9, loves to cook and dreams of becoming a chef (read more about her here). One of the dishes she often makes for her family in Zambia is nshima, a cornmeal porridge with Play Doh-like consistency. Nshima is eaten with your hands and often dipped in relishes of meat, beans, and vegetables. Bring a taste of traditional Zambian cooking into your kitchen with the following recipes.

Nshima, in the bowl, is a traditional Zambian dish eaten with thee relishes made from beans, meat, and greens.
(Photo: ©2016 Heather Klinger/World Vision)
Ingredients for the relishes.
(Photo: ©2016 Heather Klinger/World Vision)

Soak beans overnight. In a large pot, boil soaked beans for one hour. Finely chop onions and distribute evenly into three small bowls; set aside. In a small pan, fry one bowl chopped onion with one can of tomatoes and a pinch of salt. Once the beans have finished boiling, add onion and tomato mixture to the beans. Simmer and allow to thicken. 

Kale relish

Fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil. Chop kale and add to boiling water, along with ½ teaspoon salt. Reduce heat, cover pot, and allow kale to cook until wilted. Using a food processer or sealed zip-top bag with mallet, grind peanuts to powdery consistency. When kale is wilted (about 30 minutes), drain enough water from the pot to keep kale covered. Add peanuts, one bowl chopped onion, one can of tomatoes, and salt and pepper to taste. Mix well, cover pot, and cook on low heat for one hour. 

Meat relish

Cut meat into bite-sized pieces, place in a large sauté pan, and add water until meat is submerged. Bring to a boil. Once most of the water has evaporated, add last bowl of chopped onion, last can of tomatoes, and salt and pepper to taste. Reduce heat and simmer until thickened. 


Fill a large saucepan two-thirds full of water and bring to a boil. In a mixing bowl, mix 2 cups cold water and 1 cup cornmeal. Add mixture to boiling water and reduce heat to medium. Cover pot and cook 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, stir vigorously with a wooden spoon to remove lumps. Gradually add more cornmeal, 2 tablespoons at a time, stirring to keep porridge smooth. As it thickens, reduce additions to 1 tablespoon at a time until porridge is Play Doh consistency (about 20 minutes). Remove from heat, cover pot, and let stand a few minutes.

Serving instructions

Put each relish in a different serving bowl. Nshima should be eaten with your hands and dipped in the relishes.    

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