Cooking Zambian Nshima and Ndiwo: A Traditional Duo

Zambian Nshima and Ndiwo: A Traditional Combo

Experience traditional Zambian cuisine right in your kitchen by making Nshima, a smooth maize meal porridge, and Ndiwo, a delightful and nutritious relish that typically accompanies the Nshima. This duo plays a central role in Zambian culture and is considered the national dish. Here’s how you can prepare this comforting and satisfying meal in just a few simple steps.


  • For Nshima:
  • 2 cups white maize meal (cornmeal can be substituted)
  • 4 cups water
  • Salt to taste
  • For Ndiwo (Vegetable Relish):
  • 1 tbsp cooking oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 medium tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 cup leafy greens (such as collard greens or spinach), chopped
  • 1 cup water or vegetable broth
  • Salt and pepper to taste



  1. Bbring 3 cups of water to a boil in a large pot. Combine 1 cup of maize meal with the remaining cup of water to make a paste.
  2. Gradually stir the maize meal paste into the boiling water to prevent lumps.
  3. Reduce the heat and continue to cook, stirring regularly, until the mixture thickens and begins to pull away from the sides of the pot.
  4. Cover the pot and let the Nshima simmer for about 15 minutes, making sure to stir every so often. Add salt to taste. The final consistency should be thick and dough-like.

Ndiwo (Vegetable Relish):

  1. Heat the oil in a pan over medium heat. Add onions and sauté until translucent.
  2. Add the tomatoes to the pan and cook until they soften and break down, forming a sauce.
  3. Stir in the leafy greens and add the water or vegetable broth. Cover the pan and let it simmer until the greens are tender, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Serve a portion of Nshima with Ndiwo on the side. Traditionally, you would roll Nshima into a ball with your hands and dip it into the Ndiwo to eat, but feel free to use utensils if you prefer.

Not only is this meal integral to Zambian family life and gatherings, but it also provides a hearty, comforting experience that’s perfect for bringing people together anywhere in the world. Enjoy making this traditional Zambian meal!

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