In Malawi malnutrition and under nutrition are some of the factors which are hindering development and economic progress. One of the major reasons for under nutrition is a lack of intake from all the dietary food groups, which would be required by the body to function and fight infection.

The Malawian diet is largely based on cereals, maize and starchy roots such as cassava and potatoes. Nsima is a traditional Malawian dish made from maize and is eaten daily by some Malawians. Maize is pounded to make flour which is mixed with water and thickened to make a filling meal. The leafy green vegetables are cooked with tomatoes, which makes thick tasty gravy to add flavor to the Nsima.

This is the Malawian dish of choice and is preferred over other staples such as rice or potatoes. However, over dependence on this meal daily would not provide nutrients from the 6 major food groups. For a balanced diet eating vegetables, fruits, beans and nuts, animal foods and fats would be required. Please try out the recipe below for a taste of Malawi.

Zikomo (Thanks)


Ingredients to make Nsima:

- Maize Flour (1kg)
- Water (5cups)

Ingredients for Leafy Green Vegetables Sauce:

- Any leafy green vegetables ( e.g Pumpkin leaves, spinach, cabbage)
- Onions
- Tomatoes
- Cooking oil
- Green peppers
- 1 Cup of water
- tsp of Salt
-Pinch of Sugar

How to cook Nsima:

- Put 5 cups of water in a pot and heat on a medium heat until the water becomes warm
- Mix warm water with ¼ kg of maize flour to make a thick paste
- Leave this to boil on a medium heat for 15-20 mins.
- Keep adding more maize flour at 1 minute intervals to the pot until it reaches a stiff consistency.

How to prepare Green Leafy Vegetables:

- Boil green leafy vegetables in salty water for 2 minutes and drain the water away.
- In a clean frying pan add 2 tablespoons of cooking oil.
- Fry the onions until soft over a medium heat and add green peppers to the mixture
- Add one can of chopped tomatoes to the onion and pepper mixture. Allow it to simmer over a medium heat for 5 minutes and add a pinch of sugar to taste.
- Then add the boiled green leafy vegetables to finish.
- Serve with the Nsima for a delicious meal.


The volunteers in the Lilongwe region share the recipe for a Malawian staple.

Photo: Previous volunteer Kayleigh cooking nsima with a local community member in Salima.