Learn to Make Nsima, Malawi’s Staple Food

Nsima is the staple food in Malawi. It’s a thick porridge made out of maize flour and water. Typically, nsima is eaten with vegetables and a protein—like fish, beans, or meat. It can be torn apart by hand and used to dip into side dishes or relishes. “One cannot eat nsima without relish,” Gabriel Kapanda, Orant’s country director, says. But nsima isn’t like bread or rice. It isn’t the side to supplement the main dish. It’s the main dish itself.

Nsima Recipe


-2 cups of cornmeal 
-5 cups of water


1. Heat 5 cups of water in a pot until warm

2. Slowly add 1 cup of cornmeal to the water, stirring continuously with a wooden spoon until a porridge starts to form and the mixture starts to boil

3. Cover and simmer for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally 

4. Remove the lid, add 1 or 2 more cups of cornmeal, a little at a time, flattening any lumps, stirring constantly over the heat for about 5 minutes 

5. Scoop the thick porridge with a spoon, shaping it into multiple patties, each about the size of a hockey puck. Serve with the food of your choice

For more direction and recipes for making nsima, check out this video from Tearfund. Or this one from Malawi Food Network. 

For more information on the importance of maize in Malawi, read this.  

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