A Flavour of Zambia

Zambia 2013

By Emily-Ann Elliott

July 17, 2013

Also published at The Grown-Up Gap Year

A trip wouldn’t be a trip without me banging on about the food and yesterday, during a break from reporting, I got the chance to sample a traditional Zambian meal.

You always know you’re heading to a good place when you have to queue to get in and the road outside Twa-Pandula was packed with cars as locals dropped in for lunch.

The place to go for home-cooked food

We were with our Zambian ‘fixer’ Sally, who seems to know anyone who is anyone in Lusaka, so once we’d stopped to say hello to a number of her friends we followed the other diners inside. Both sides of the room were lined with long tables which were weighed down by huge pots of food, meat on one side and vegetables on the other. Judging by the smell alone, I knew it was going to be good!

Service with a smile

I opted for the beef, which was served in a thick, rich, sauce and the woman who served me apologised that there wasn’t much left, before scooping what I considered to be a huge portion onto my plate. We chose a selection of vegetables to share, so that we’d get a chance to try a bit of everything. Then we headed outside – I love that you can sit outside in Zambia even in winter – and a waitress brought some more huge plates of nsima (a cornmeal product and the country’s staple food) to our table.

Veggie dishes

It looked like it was going to be quite a challenge but, never one to say no to a food challenge, I dug in. Sally showed us how to roll the nsima in our hands and use it to scoop up the vegetables and sauces.

Let the challenge commence

Everything tasted amazing. Nothing is wasted in Zambia so our vegetable selections included broad beans leaves and pumpkin leaves mixed with a ground nut paste, which is known as ifishashi. There was also kale, both with and without the paste.

It was so nice to taste some local flavours and learn more about Zambian cooking and traditions. I was so full at the end of the meal but I actually couldn’t stop eating, it tasted so good. Finally the portion sizes beat me and I had to leave some nsima on my plate, but I definitely put up a good fight…

Hand-washing facilities

Some of the beautiful colours of Zambia

Emily-Ann Elliott is traveling in Zambia on a reporting trip with the International Reporting Project.