Zimbabwean food is usually defined by fresh ingredients and traditional recipes unchanged over decades. Many Zimbabwean dishes are considered to be staple dishes in Africa as they utilise ingredients that are abundant across much of the continent.
Zimbabweans have always been very resourceful when it comes to preparing their food. They tend to maximize the flavors of every ingredient no matter how simple it is.
Most Popular Zimbabwean Dishes
Zimbabwean cuisine is characterized by intense flavors due to the spices and herbs used and high-quality raw ingredients.
Zimbabweans tend to pass along traditional cooking techniques to the newer generations and many of their practices are still used today.
We have helpfully collated some of the most iconic, traditional dishes of Zimbabwe for you to try at home or on your next visit.
Bota is a diluted form of sorghum, maize meal, or millet sadza. It is made by simmering hot water to the maize meal for 30 minutes until it thickens.
It can be flavored with margarine, salt, peanut butter and sugar. There are also some who use fresh cream to elevate the dish.
Bota can be enjoyed by both children and adults but traditionally, it is usually seen as a children’s meal. This helps fuel people who head out to the fields in rural areas as it is commonly served as the first meal of the day.
Sadza is the national dish of Zimbabwe. It is a type of bread where corn flour is used and the mixture is molded using the hands to form balls.
It can be cooked alone or with the most-used product in their country… peanut butter. It is usually accompanied by beef stew and a vegetable called covo.
Sadza is made by simmering the maze with hot water and adding more until it thickens and is formed into a thick paste. It is best to eat with your hands.
Mutakura is a wholesome dish consisting of a mix of peanuts (Nzungu), maize (Chibage), bambara nuts (Nyimo), cow peas (Nyemba) and sugar beans.
If the ingredients used are just peanuts and maize, it is then called Mangai which is similar to South Africa’s Umngqusho. The ingredients are simple yet still able to create a real tasty dish.
Mutakura has both carbohydrates and proteins which makes it a very nutritious meal. It is made by soaking the ingredients overnight, combining it together and then boiling it for several hours or until it becomes soft.
It is such a versatile dish because Zimbabweans eat it for breakfast with a cup of tea, for lunch or dinner with or without meat.
It is made with a yellow watermelon called iJodo, sugar and sun-dried maize. The maize is boiled for about 2 and a half hours until the hard grains soften.
The yellow watermelon is then peeled and sliced, and all the seeds should be removed. It is boiled for 30 minutes and beaten, before the iJodo and maize are combined with sugar.
Madhumbe is a versatile ingredient because it can be eaten in a number of ways, although usually boiled and eaten for breakfast. It can also be eaten as a lunchtime snack, lightly fried over low heat for a few minutes.
This ingredient can also be ground into powder which can be used in making Sadza with meat, greens and sour milk for a wholesome and delicious meal. It can also be used as a flour in making healthy bread.
Mazondo is one of the most iconic dishes of Zimbabwe. It is enjoyed by all age groups and is traditionally served with Sadza and collard greens.
The preparation of this Mazondo involves boiling cow heels for several hours and seasoning with black pepper, salt and garlic. To make a rich and delicious stew, chopped onions and tomatoes are added and cooked over an open flame as it consumes a lot of electricity when cooking it in an electric stove.
Mopane worms are one of of Zimbabwe’s strangest dishes and it is often rejected by tourists because it is quite an unusual and a little hard to stomach. However, it is considered by locals to be a real traditional delicacy.
It has a high percentage of protein which makes it a very nutritious food. It can be cooked in various ways and can be eaten fried or as a stew.
Mabhonzo Emombe is a stew made with beef bones and vegetables or beans.
It is then accompanied by the star food of Zimbabwe which is Sadza. It became their comfort food that every local Zimbabwean adores.
Hodeko was traditionally fermented and cured in a clay pot called Hodzeko in which they got the name of the dish.
Today, Hodzeko is now commercialized and is sold in most supermarkets. It is usually eaten with Sadza as a lunchtime meal, as a snack and even as a dessert but with added sugar.
It is such a nutritious meal and has a lot of health benefits because it is a great protein source and provides beneficial fats and bacteria.
Nhopi is basically a pumpkin pudding that is traditionally seen as a meal for children. It is a porridge made from mashed pumpkins, mealie meal, peanut butter and water squash called a Shamba.
It can be served as a snack, side dish, lunch or even as a dessert but with additional sugar for added sweetness. To add depth to the flavour, fresh cream and cinnamon are usually added.