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Zambian Doughnuts: Vitumbuwa

Zambian Doughnuts: Vitumbuwa

Vitumbuwa (Zambian doughnuts) are a popular food in Zambia. They are sweet and fluffy fried dough balls that are commonly served with tea or as a dessert. People of various ages and from many ethnic backgrounds enjoy snacking on these sweet, fried dough balls.

Culinary exchanges with European settlers and missionaries during the colonial era, when Zambia was known as Northern Rhodesia, contributed to the development of vitumbuwa into its present form. By bringing in ingredients like wheat flour and sugar, which were brought by European invaders, Zambian cooks were able to transform traditional dishes into something sweet and fluffy.

Preparation Time




2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup buttermilk or plain yogurt

1/2 cup water

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Vegetable oil 

Powdered sugar for dusting 

1/2 cup sugar 

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon 

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg 


  • In a large mixing bowl, combine the all-purpose flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, ground cinnamon, and ground nutmeg.
  • Pour in the buttermilk or plain yogurt, water, and vanilla extract. Stir the mixture until it forms sticky dough. 
  • Cover the bowl with a clean kitchen towel or plastic wrap and let the dough rest for about 30 minutes. 
  • Heat vegetable oil in a deep frying pan. 
  • Wet your hands with a little water to prevent sticking, then take small portions of the dough and roll them into golf balls (shapes).
  • Carefully drop the dough balls into the hot oil, a few at a time and fry them until they are golden brown and cooked through about 3-5 minutes.
  • Use a slotted spoon or tongs to remove the fried vitumbuwa from the oil and place them on a plate lined with paper towels to drain excess oil. Dust them with powdered sugar while they are still warm.
  • Serve the vitumbuwa warm as a delicious snack or dessert. They are best enjoyed fresh.