|Place of origin||Africa|
|Main ingredients||Cornmeal, mealie-meal (white maize)|
Nsima (also known as ugali and pap) is a type of cornmeal porridge made in Africa. It is also known as ngima, obusuma, kimnyet, nshima, Mieliepap, phutu, sadza, kwon, and other names. Nsima is sometimes made from other flours, such as millet or sorghum flour, and is sometimes mixed with cassava flour. It is cooked in boiling water or milk until it reaches a stiff or firm dough-like consistency.
This dish is eaten widely across Africa, where it has different local names:
o "Fitah" - Sudan, South Sudan, Congo
The word ugali is a Bantu language term derived from Swahili, it is also widely known as Nsima in Malawian languages such as Chichewa, and Chitumbuka,. In parts of Tanzania, the dish also goes by the informal, "street" name of nguna or donee.
Maize was introduced to Africa from the Americas between the 16th and 17th century. Before this, sorghum and millet were the staple cereals in most of Sub-Saharan Africa. Maize was readily accepted by African farmers as its cultivation was very similar to that of sorghum but with significantly higher yields. Eventually, maize displaced sorghum as the primary cereal in all but the drier regions. The full replacement of these crops with maize took place in the latter half of the twentieth century. In Malawi, they have a saying 'chimanga ndi moyo' which translates to 'maize is life'. Nshima/nsima is still sometimes made from sorghum flour though it is quite uncommon to find this. Cassava, which was also introduced from the Americas, can also be used to make nshima/nsima, either exclusively or mixed with maize flour. In Malawi nsima made from cassava (chinangwa) is localized to the lakeshore areas, however, when maize harvests are poor cassava nsima can be found all over the country.
Ugali (when it is cooked as porridge, it is called uji) is usually served with salad. It is the most common staple starch featured in the local cuisines of the African Great Lakes region and Southern Africa. When ugali is made from another starch, it is usually given a specific regional name.
The traditional method of eating ugali (and the most common in the rural areas) is to roll a lump into a ball with the right hand, and then dip it into a sauce or stew of vegetables or meat. Making a depression with the thumb allows the ugali to be used to scoop, and to wrap around pieces of meat to pick them up in the same way that flatbread is used in other cultures. Leftover ugali can also be eaten with tea the following morning.
Ugali is relatively inexpensive and thus easily accessible to the poor, who usually combine it with a meat or vegetable stew (e.g., sukuma wiki in Kenya) to make a filling meal. Ugali is easy to make, and the flour can last for a considerable time in average conditions.
In Luhya culture it is the most common staple starch, but is also a key part of Luhya Wedding traditions; obusuma prepared from millet (known as obusuma bwo bule) was traditionally included among delicacies on a bride's high table. Obusuma can also be prepared from other starches like sorghum or cassava (obusuma bwo 'muoko). Obusuma is commonly served with tsimboka, or etsifwa, Eliani (vegetables), inyama, (meat), inyeni, (fish), thimena, (whitebait) or omrere (jute leaves). For distinguished guests or visitors, it is usually served with ingokho, (chicken).
The maize flour is first boiled with water into a porridge. It is then 'paddled,' to create a thick paste with the addition of more flour. This process requires the maker to pull the thick paste against the side of a pot with a flat wooden spoon (called an nthiko) quickly whilst it continues to sit over the heat. Once cooked the resulting nshima/nsima is portioned using a wooden/plastic spoon dipped in water or coated in oil called a chipande, each of these portions is called an ntanda.
Nshima is almost always eaten with two side dishes, known as "relishes": a protein source: meat, poultry, fish, groundnuts (peanuts), beans; and a vegetable, often grape leaves, pumpkin leaves, amaranth leaves, mustard leaves or cabbage. The protein sides are known as Ndiyo or Umunani (Zambia) or Ndiwo (Malawi), and the vegetable sides are known as masambaor "umuto wankondwa" in Zambia. In Malawi, this is often accompanied with hot peppers or condiments like homemade hot pepper sauces from peri-peri or Kambuzi chili peppers or commercial chili sauces like Nali Sauce. Traditionally diners sit around a table or on the floor surrounding the meal. The diners have to wash their hands as nshima/nsima is eaten with bare hands. This is done with a bowl of water. Alternatively the host or one of the younger people present pours water from a jug over the hands of the elders or guests into a bowl. Eating is done by taking a small lump into one's right palm, rolling it into a ball and dipping it into the relish. An indentation in the ball can be made to help scoop the relish or soup. As with many African traditions, age is very important. Washing before the meal, eating, and washing after the meal generally starts with the oldest person, followed by everyone else in turn by age.
In Malawi, it is normally eaten with utaka - a type of local dried fish.
Pap , also known as mieliepap (Afrikaans for maize porridge) in South Africa, is a traditional porridge/polenta made from mielie-meal (coarsely ground maize) and a staple food of the Bantu peoples of Southern Africa (the Afrikaans word pap is taken from Dutch and means merely "porridge"). Many traditional Southern African dishes include pap, such as smooth maize meal porridge (also called slap pap or soft porridge), pap with a very thick consistency that can be held in hand (stywe pap or firm porridge) and a more dry crumbly phuthu pap. Phuthu dishes are usually found in the coastal areas of South Africa.
South Africans in the northern parts of South Africa eat it as the breakfast staple, with milk, butter, and sugar, but also serve it with meat and tomato stew (usually tomato and onion) at other meal. When they have a braai, Bogobe or "Stywe" pap with a savoury sauce like tomato and onion or mushroom is an important part of the meal. Phutu pap is popularly served with boerewors, a combination that later became known as pap en wors (also called "pap en vleis").
In the Cape Province of South Africa, it is almost exclusively seen as a breakfast food. Since mielie-meal is inexpensive, poor people combine it with vegetables. It can be served hot or, after it has cooled, it can be fried. Phutu porridge is sometimes enjoyed with chakalaka as a side dish with braais.
Uphuthu is a South African method of cooking mealie meal whereby the end product is a finely textured coarse grain like meal which is typically enjoyed with an accompaniment of vegetables and meat in Kwa Zulu Natal and Eastern Cape regions of South Africa or as the star of the dish with amasi or maas in the Gauteng regions. Some cultures add sugar to uphuthu and amasi to enjoy it as a sweet treat that would resemble cereal however the corn-based stable is typically enjoyed as is with amasi.
Phuthu or Uphuthu , also incorrectly spelled as putu or phutu, is a traditional preparation method of maize meal in South African cuisine. It is a crumbly or grainy type of pap or porridge, eaten by most cultural groups in South Africa. Phuthu is often eaten with meat, beans, gravy and sour milk.
Sadza in Shona (isitshwala in isiNdebele, or pap, vuswa or bogobe in South Africa, or nsima in the Chichewa language, or Ugali in East Africa) or phalet?he in Botswana, is a cooked maize meal that is the staple food in Zimbabwe and other parts of Southern Africa.
Sadza is made with finely ground dry maize/corn maize (Mealie-Meal). This maize meal is referred to as hupfu in Shona or impuphu in Ndebele. Despite the fact that maize is an imported food crop to Zimbabwe (c. 1890), it has become the chief source of carbohydrate and the most popular meal for indigenous people. Locals either purchase the mealie meal in retail outlets or produce it in a grinding mill from their maize.
Zimbabweans prefer white maize meal. However, during times of famine or hardship, they resorted to eating yellow maize meal, which is sometimes called "Kenya," because it was once imported from that nation. Before the introduction of maize, sadza was made from zviyo finger millet.
Sadza is typically served on individual plates, but traditionally sadza was eaten from a communal bowl, a tradition that is still maintained by some families mainly in the rural areas. It is generally eaten with the right hand without the aid of cutlery; often rolled into a ball before being dipped into a variety of condiments such as sauce/gravy, sour milk, or stewed vegetables.
Notable foods eaten with sadza include:
Meat is known as nyama in Shona.
Fufu, a starch-based food from West and Central Africa, may also be made from maize meal, in which case it may be called fufu corn. In the Caribbean, similar dishes are cou-cou (Barbados), funchi (Curaçao), and funjie (Virgin Islands). It is known as funche in Puerto Rican cuisine and mayi moulin in Haitian cuisine.
Ugali and cabbage
A meal of sadza (right), greens, and goat offal. The goat's small intestines are wrapped around small pieces of large intestines before cooking.
Ugali and usipa (small fish), staples of the Yawo people of the African Great Lakes.
The following books, set in Zimbabwe, discuss the characters' eating the Zimbabwean staple, sadza: