Tuesday, November 21, 2017

A Zimbabwean feast!

Every meal at Imvelo Safari Lodges is an occasion!

Every day on safari is something of a celebration - of nature, of life and of vacation! Imvelo Safari Lodges serves wonderful and abundant food for every meal, and can serve some of Zimbabwe's traditional celebratory foods on request. We love trying local food, and can confirm the deliciousness of what's on offer in Zimbabwe, so we highly recommend it!

A traditional evening for a celebration in Zimbabwe would almost always include sadza & nyama, which is meat served with a stiff porridge made of white maize that has been finely ground. Variations of nyama include roasted meat on the barbecue or over the fire. The type of food and drink served at a celebration varies depending on the occasion, status of the persons involved and/or area, as well as ethnic grouping. 

Traditional food is generally eaten with the fingers of the right hand. A chunk of the sadza (maize meal) is broken off, rolled in a ball in the palm, and dipped into the relish. Communal dining is typical, usually sitting in a circle on low stools, mainly in the more rural locations. However, plates and spoons and even western style utensils can be used.

Prior to eating, a bowl of water is usually on the table or available for diners to wash their hands. More traditionally, women take the dish around for men and/or guests to wash their hands. Honored guests would be served first, followed by the elders (men first), and usually diners would not start eating until the oldest man has been served and started eating. Women eat last.  

For a general example of a traditional feast, the following could be served (the menu even includes a superfood dish!):


Nyimo Beans (a legume rarely found outside Africa).
This bean is boiled with salt and served as a starter. Peel the skins and eat as many as you like!!

Ingredients (10 portions)
500g Sugar beans
4 tsp salt

Boil the sugar beans in salted water until tender, remove from water and season to taste.

Main Course

A typical traditional feast would consist of sadza and stew, usually beef, with side dishes of rice, butternut, chomolia (kale) with peanut butter, and relish (a tomato and onion gravy).

Sadza (can be sampled at Imvelo)
Image by Tobilola
Sadza is made from white maize, sometimes also called roller meal. It is a staple throughout Africa, going under many different names.

Method:  (Serves 4-6)
Put approximately 3 cups of water in a pot and bring to the boil.  In the meantime, combine 1 ½ cups of the maize meal with a cup of water.

Lower the heat or move the pot to the side of the fire, and combine the mixture into the boiling water, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon for a few minutes. Slowly add another cup of maize meal, still mixing, and when the mixture thickens and starts to pull away from the sides of the pot, it is ready. 

The pot may be left on the side of the stove or fire to keep warm.

A good helping of the thickened porridge can be shaped into a dome on the serving plate and serve with meat stew and relish.

Beef Stew

The beef stew is fairly common in all cultures. In Zimbabwe it would simply consist of chunks of beef (or oxtail) cooked with onions and tomatoes or tomato paste, usavi (a seasoning powder that can be purchased in packets commercially) and/or salt, either in a potjie (three legged pot) or any large pot.

Side Dishes

Chomola (can be sampled at Imvelo)  (African kale) with peanut butter.

Chomolia is a widely grown vegetable in Zimbabwe and commonly served with sadza as the “relish” or side dish. It cooks very quickly (can be cooked like cabbage) by boiling for a few minutes.

Ingredients (20 portions)

1 bunch chomolia
1 onion, half sliced
Drizzle oil
4 tbsp peanut butter


Thinly slice the chomolia and boil in water until tender, drain off water. In a pot sauté the onion in a little oil, then add in the chomolia and peanut butter. Mix until well combined.

Tomato and Onion Gravy is also commonly served with sadza. ( can be sampled at Imvelo)

Ingredients (8 portions)

4 tomatoes, fine dice
2 onion, med dice
1 stock cube
2 cloves garlic, sliced
½ tsp sugar
2 tsp tomato puree
2 cups water


Soften the onion in a little oil then add the garlic and simmer for 2 mins, add in the tomato and tomato puree, sugar, water and stock cube let simmer until tomatoes are soft and sauce is thick. Season to taste.

Butternut (can be sampled at Imvelo) is also served at special occasions. This is a squash common in Zimbabwe (and readily available in autumn in many North American supermarkets) which grows on a vine. It is oblong with a bulbous end. The flesh is a beautiful orange color, quite similar to pumpkin.

It is eaten on special occasions with the traditional fare by simply peeling off the outer beige hard skin, and cutting the butternut flesh into cubes. It is simply boiled until tender.

Dessert is not common, but fruit can be offered.  In safari lodges, a traditional evening is sometimes rounded off with either a fruit platter or a more western style chocolate dessert with an Amarula liqueur sauce.

Amarula (can be sampled at Imvelo) is a South African liqueur consisting of sugar, cream and the distilled juice of the marula fruit which is an indigenous tree found in many parts of Africa. In South Africa, it is known as the elephant tree. The fruit of the marula tree is a fleshy, oval shaped fruit with a pip. The juice is extracted from the flesh over a long period, and distilled and fermented, before adding the other ingredients.

Dark Chocolate Pudding with Amarula Sauce


60g Flour
20g  Cocoa powder
100g sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
Pinch of salt
65ml oil
65mls water
5 mls vanilla ess
2 eggs
100g chocolate crushed
50g nut crushed

Mix together the flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking powder, nuts and salt.  Mix in oil, water and vanilla essence. Combine all.

Add egg yolks and crushed chocolate to the mixture. Beat egg white until stiff and fold into mixture.
Bake at 180 for 15 to 18 minutes.

Amarula Sauce
100g dark chocolate, crushed
50mls cream/milk
Mix together and melt and add a tot of Amarula.

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