Welcome! Malawi is a beautiful country, full of rich culture, people and of course food. Malawi’s staple food is an odd concoction called nsima, pronounced “see-ma”. Nsima is made from white corn flour and is a porridge-like substance that is very thick and eaten with your hands. You eat nsima with ndiwo (“dee-wo”) aka “relish”. Ndiwo can be meat, eggs, or vegetables.
Fried termites with a side of mopane worms, anyone? Well, why not a handful of stinkbugs with some bunny chow? Traveling to Africa will introduce you to the weird and wonderful food that you can taste all across the continent.
When visiting the unique and extremely fascinating continent of Africa, you should definitely travel with an open mind and a hungry stomach, and at least try some of the strange but fantastic local delicacies. From stinky bugs to big caterpillars, we have compiled a list of 7 weird and wonderful foods to get your chops around in Africa.
Mopane worms are a delicacy in Malawi. Whether the creatures are being served at home or a restaurant, there is a particular process of cooking traditionally.
Fried Termites (Ngumbi)
Why bother buying popcorn or sweets if you can snack on termites for free? This one might make your skin crawl, but like with the mopane worms, rural South of Malawi eat termites as a good source of protein. These little insects are usually eaten raw as tasty snacks after being pulled out of ground that they’ve been feasting on, or are then sold in markets to be brought home and roasted or fried in oil. Also, apparently these insects taste like carrots…but we’ll let you be the judge of that.
Blood of a cow – fresh coagulated chunks straight from a cow’s neck.
I know, I know, another gross bug…but again this bug is another edible source of goodness. Don’t let the name put you off, you won’t actually taste “the stink” as the stinkbugs are beheaded and squeezed to empty out the green gland that makes the smell before cooking. Once being emptied of the green gland, Malawians usually boils the bugs and then sun-dry them and enjoy them as snacks. These little stinky critters are high in Vitamin B, so are actually quite good for you, and some people say they taste like a blend of cinnamon and iodine.
Right now you’re probably feeling a little grossed out by the thought of chowing down on insects and bugs, so here’s a tamer dish. Everyone loves big, juicy slices of pineapple, and everyone enjoys thick, fresh white bread, so why not put both together? For this dish, Malawians serve pineapple between two slices of white sandwich-bread and butter, and even though it sounds like a strange flavor combination, it actually works well together. Pineapples are very cheap (less $1) to buy in Malawi, so even if you pile up on the fruit and don’t like it in a sandwich, then at least you can enjoy the sweet taste all on its own.
Biltong is perhaps not so much of a weird food, but is definitely wonderful, as it is a Malawian specialty that most locals munch on. It is made from good quality cuts of meat such as rump or silverside, which is seasoned with spices and vinegar and hung out to dry naturally. It may look moldy or too dry to eat, but biltong is definitely worth trying, as it is extremely flavorsome and tasty.
Ostrich Egg Omelette
Here’s a dish for omelet lovers to get egg-cited about. In Malawi they make the mother of all omelets with an ostrich egg, which is mighty when you remember that the eggs can weigh more than 3 pounds each. This whopper of an omelet is probably best shared with a few friends, especially since an ostrich egg is equal to 24 normal eggs – we’re not yolking! A traditional Malawian ostrich omelet is served plain and simple, with butter, salt, pepper, and parsley.
Chicken feet (Zipalapasiro)
And we mean the chicken feet specifically. For those who love little meat and more bone, this is for you. Comprising mainly of tendons and skin, it is a popularly consumed dish and is cooked semi-dry or simply fried. Either way, it serves as a snack and doesn’t really satisfy your meat craving. However, when it is cooked with spices, sauces or tamarind, it can be eaten with rice.
Crispy Honey Bees
Believed to be good sources of proteins, honey bees are fried or sautéed and eaten as a snack. Think of peanuts with chopped onions and lime. Bees, as well as their larvae, are had in this form. The meat tastes almost like chicken. Remember to dust the wings off before you eat it unless you are brave enough!
Cow’s Organ Soup (Nthumbwana)
When you talk of cow meat, why exclude the organs? Cow’s organ soup, as the name indicates, comprises of mixed pieces of its tongue, intestine, heart, meat strips, liver and blood cubes. Vegetables, greens, onions, and pepper are added to this clear soup, which can be taken with rice or other sides.
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