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Nsima, the Basis of Every Good Meal


Nsima is the staple starch in Zambia (and other regional countries), made from corn meal (or mealie meal as it's known here). You need muscle to prep this dish, I could barely handle it for a few minutes without ruining the lot. More information below ...
Nsima, the cornerstone of any good traditional meal in Zambia

Nsima, the cornerstone of any good traditional meal in Zambia

© Anouk Zijlma
We bought the corn meal already ground up, but in many villages you'll see ladies stomping maize kernels into a fine flour. Once that muscle work has been done, a pot of water goes on the fire, mixed with a little bicarbonate of soda, and then the corn meal is added slowly. You have to paddle the mixture like crazy to get the nsima into a nice smooth paste, all the while trying to stop it from sticking to the bottom of the pot. It's a real art and it gets blazing hot hanging over an open fire like this. Needless to say, I gave up once large lumps began to appear, and handed things over to my skillful chef, the village headman's eldest daughter. After ten minutes of working the mixture like a pro, the nsima was perfectly stiff, smooth and ready to be balled up in our hands and dipped in the sauces and veggie dishes.
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