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Zambian Maize Meal: Nshima

Zambian Maize Meal: Nshima

Popular in Zambia and other regions of Southern Africa, Nshima is a common staple cuisine. It is a straightforward but adaptable dish made with water and maize (corn) meal. Nshima is comparable to other African foods like Ugali in Kenya and Tanzania and Sadza in Zimbabwe. 

Nshima evolved as a result of necessity and inventiveness. Because it can flourish in a variety of climates and provide food in both prosperous and difficult times, maize is a staple crop that is widely available and has gained significance in local diets. Over time, several communities in Southern Africa modified and customised nshima, incorporating it into their distinctive culinary and cultural identities.

As more people become aware of its simplicity, adaptability, and capacity to bring people together via shared culinary experiences, it has also grown in popularity on a larger scale.

Preparation Time

35 minutes



2 cups maize meal (white cornmeal) 

4-5 cups water 

1 teaspoon salt 









  • Boil 4-5 cups of water to a boil in a large pot. 
  • In a separate bowl, add the maize meal and a little bit of cold water to make a paste. Mix well to remove any lumps. 
  • Once the water is boiling, reduce the heat to medium-low.
  • Gradually add the maize meal paste to the boiling water while continuously stirring with a wooden spoon or a whisk. 
  • Continue stirring to combine the maize meal and water thoroughly.
  • Cook the mixture for about 15-20 minutes, or until it becomes thick and stiff. 
  • If the nshima is too thick and difficult to stir, you can add a little more hot water (1/2 cup at a time) and continue to cook.
  • If it's too thin, you can add a bit more maize meal to thicken it.
  • Add salt to taste, but this is entirely optional. Some people prefer their nshima plain, while others like to season it lightly.
  • Nshima is typically served hot and is often accompanied by relishes such as stewed vegetables, fish, meat, or a tomato-based sauce.