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
© 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.