About the food of Malawi

Lake Malawi. Photo by Steve Evans.

Malawi undulates and ambles along eastern Africa – a collection of soft rolling hills and glistening lake waters, dotted with thatched villages, dusty courtyards, and a healthy array of vivid, green trees. The land is striking and, yet, completely new to me.

Maps & flag courtesy of CIA World Factbook. Monoxylon beach, Lake Malawi - photo by Stefan Kraft.

When it comes to mealtime, I was immediately intrigued by the street food. First, there’s grilled mice, boiled goat liver, banana fritters (zitumbuwa) and chippies. The first two I witnessed in travel videos. I read about chippies on Be-ing Brittany. Brittany is a Community Health Advisor in Malawi. We emailed back and forth, during which time I learned that chippies are simply crisp, deep-fried potoato wedges, served with tsabola [Recipe], a firey dipping sauce (most street food is served with tsabola).

Here is a typical chippies stand in action:

Frying chippies stand. Photo courtesy of Brittany Krake.

While (select) street food is enough to make me board the first plane to Malawi, most people eat a simple diet of boiled maize called Nsima or Ufa (not unlike the papa we made for Lesotho), sometimes with peanuts added, beans, or fish from the giant lake. The Nsima can be made stiff or quite soupy, so that it can easily be ladled out to large groups, like school children. Leafy greens, pumpkins, tropical fruit, and homemade ginger beer all are popular staples throughout the country as well.

In the cities, food is much more elaborate and international. Sweet potatoes might be added to biscuits [Recipe], or peanuts might make their way into cookies [Recipe]. Pizza and burgers are greatly enjoyed in little restaurants, as well.

Old Town Lilongwe, Malawi. Photo by Brian Dell.

And that’s just the beginning.

There’s a whole world of flavor in Malawi.


  1. Pingback: Global Table Adventure | Menu: Malawi

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