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Zambian Dessert: Chikanda

Zambian Dessert: Chikanda

One of the traditional meals from Zambia and other parts of Southern Africa is chikanda, commonly referred to as African Wild Potato. The Chikanda plant, also known as the African Wild Orchid in science, is used to make this distinctive and nutrient-rich vegetarian dish. Due to its peculiar flavours as well as its historical and cultural significance, it maintains an important place in the culinary history of Zambia and its neighbouring nations.

The meal first appeared as a method of subsistence for indigenous tribes, especially during periods of famine and when other food options were few. The Chikanda plant has been used in food for millennia, demonstrating the region's inhabitants' resourcefulness and culinary innovation.

With its use of groundnuts (peanuts), African Wild Orchid corms, and other locally sourced ingredients, the dish also showcases Zambia's abundant biodiversity.

Preparation Time

2 hours and 30 minutes 


1 cup dried Chikanda (African Wild Potato) corms

1 cup groundnuts (peanuts), roasted and ground into a fine powder

1 small onion (chopped)

1-2 cloves garlic (minced)

1-2 tablespoons red palm oil or vegetable oil

Salt and pepper 

Banana leaves or aluminium foil 

1/2 cup cassava flour or cassava meal

1/2 cup water


  • Soak the dried Chikanda corms in warm water for about 2 hours to soften them. Change the water a few times to remove any bitterness.
  • Drain the water and then grind the softened Chikanda corms into a paste using a food processor or mortar and pestle. 
  • Roast the groundnuts (peanuts) in a dry skillet over medium heat until they are golden brown and aromatic. Let them cool and then grind them into a fine powder.
  • Mix the ground Chikanda paste and groundnut powder in a large bowl.
  • Gradually add the cassava flour or cassava meal to the mixture while stirring.
  • In a separate pan, heat the red palm oil or vegetable oil over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic and sauté until the onions become translucent and fragrant.
  • Add the sautéed onions and garlic to the Chikanda mixture, and mix them. 
  • Season the mixture with salt and pepper to taste. Adjust the seasoning according to your preference.
  • Take a portion of the Chikanda mixture and wrap it tightly in banana leaves or aluminium foil, forming a small rectangular or oval shape. 
  • Steam the wrapped Chikanda parcels in a steamer or a large pot with a steaming rack for about 30-40 minutes until they firm up and become fully cooked.
  • Allow the Chikanda parcels to cool slightly, then unwrap and slice them into rounds or squares. Serve as a snack or appetizer.