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Cheap and Easy Recipes from Africa

Updated on June 22, 2011

The new project - a travel guide about the trip

This cover designed by Hubpages very own Cris!
This cover designed by Hubpages very own Cris!
This photo of a kudu taken by my teenage daughter Siobhan in Zambia on the way down
This photo of a kudu taken by my teenage daughter Siobhan in Zambia on the way down
Baboon eating our apples in Tanzania
Baboon eating our apples in Tanzania
Elephant taken by Siobhan in Botswana
Elephant taken by Siobhan in Botswana
Spectacular Victoria Falls
Spectacular Victoria Falls
My car at the Tropic of Capricorn in Botswana
My car at the Tropic of Capricorn in Botswana

Tastes from Africa

Africa, often in the news for its political dramas, genocides, drought, AIDS epidemics, corrupt leaders and the Football World Cup. A continent of spectacular landscapes, vibrant communities and beautiful beaches. But how many people ever hear in the news about the great food Africa has to offer the world? With so many people below the poverty line, meals have to be cheap and easy to make, recipes for those on a budget. Entertaining is easy when cooking African food, you can cook for a whole army of guests on a limited budget. Why not be brave, and try some authentic African cuisine?

Recently, I was very privileged to be able to undertake a mammoth overland trip with my fourteen year old daughter. In nine days I drove 5625km and traveled through four countries. I got to sample some great African food along the way. The end of the week, I leave for my return trip, heading back to my other mountain, Kilimanjaro. This got me thinking about writing a travel guide about my experiences. I guess, not many single mothers with their teenage daughter attempt a trip of this magnitude, and as most guide books are written by men, I thought I'd write one from a woman's point of view. Explaining where to find good toilets along the way and so on. I also thought I'd pepper the book with random factoids as I'm definitely a random useless factoid gatherer. But most importantly, I thought I'd include some recipes from every country I travel through on my Great Mountain to Mountain Safari. When I mentioned my idea on Facebook, Cris from Hubpages immediately offered to design my cover. So if you take a look at the picture on the top, that's Cris's very own design using photos I took along the way.

Well, I thought I'd share the recipes I gathered with the world. Seriously, you need to sample some African food, with most of us tightening the belt and cutting down on costs, these recipes are just what we need to beat inflation and balance the budget. So, be a devil and give them a try. These recipes are from Tanzania, Zambia, Botswana, South Africa, Zimbabwe and Malawi.


Kilimanjaro to Table Mountain


Nyama Stew

This easy to make delicious stew will have your mouth watering as the sensational cooking smells seep up your nostrils. It serves 4-6, but is so tasty you might want to double up as everybody will want seconds!


2 tablespoons cooking oil

500g beef cut into cubes

1 large onion cut into rings

6 tomatoes finely chopped

1 cup coconut milk

1 tablespoon finely chopped coriander leaves

1 chilli finely chopped

Salt and pepper to taste


1. Heat the oil in a pot with a lid. Brown the beef and the onion rings

2. Throw in the rest of the ingredients and leave to simmer for about 45 minutes on a low heat until the meat is cooked and falling apart.

3. Serve with a hefty spoonful of Mataha.


This is a great variation on the old mashed potato recipe. It serves 4-6 and is great with stews and casseroles.


2 cups fresh or frozen peas

2 cups corn from the cob

5 potatoes

2 tablespoons cooking oil

Salt and pepper to taste


1. Boil vegetables separately until cooked.

2. Mash the potatoes.

3. Put the cooking oil into a frying pan, and add the peas, corn and mashed potato.

4. Heat through and mix until all the ingredients are mashed together.

5. Serve with your meat dish.



This great dish goes well with a barbecue and will help build your reputation as the BBQ specialist in your area. It serves 8, so invite all your friends!


6 cups water

2kg peeled and thinly sliced sweet potatoes

Salt to taste

Peanut Sauce

4 cups ground peanuts

1 cup hot water


1. Boil the slices of sweet potato in the water.

2. Drain the cooked sweet potato slices and arrange the slices in a greased baking dish.

3. Season with salt.

4. Make your peanut sauce by mixing the ground peanuts together with the cup of boiling water in a small bowl.

5. Pour the sauce on the sweet potatoes.

6. Bake at 180 degrees Celsius or 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 minutes.


Especially for the vegetarians out there, see – I didn’t forget you! This dish is great with rice or maize meal porridge. It serves 8.


2 cups water

3 onions coarsely chopped

3 tomatoes diced into cubes

3 cups diced brinjal

½ teaspoon chilli powder

½ teaspoon turmeric

Salt and pepper to taste


1. Boil the onions and tomatoes in the water and then let it simmer for about 10 minutes.

2. Add the rest of the ingredients and give it a stir.

3. Cook for a further 20 minutes.



A different way of presenting meat and great for developing biceps. Make sure you have a meat mallet handy. This serves 6 and is eaten with rice or maize meal porridge and morogo.


1kg brisket


1 large onion coarsely chopped

Salt and pepper to taste


1. Place all ingredients in the water and boil for about 2 and a half hours until the meat is soft. Keep checking that you have water in your pan so you don’t cremate your brisket.

2. Drain the liquid into a cup. You can use this to make a gravy later.

3. Get the meat mallet and pound the life out of the cooked brisket, until either you get a cramp in your bicep or the meat becomes flaky.

4. Remove the bones as they reveal themselves.

5. The dish is ready to serve.


You’ll find that all over Africa they make similar dishes to the Botswana Morogo, but they use leaves from different plants. In Botswana they tend to use sun-dried bean leaves, in Zambia leaves from the sweet potato plant, in Tanzania leaves from some wild plant called mchicha which I always thought was spinach but apparently it’s not. So if you grow your own vegetables, you can experiment with the plant leaves to make your own Morogo, otherwise just use spinach leaves.


1kg chopped leaves

2 onions coarsely chopped

½ cup water

1 tablespoon cooking oil

Salt and pepper to taste


1. Place the chopped leaves and chopped onion into a saucepan.

2. Add the water and cooking oil.

3. Boil for 15 minutes, taking care to stir continuously.

4. Season with salt and pepper and it’s ready to serve.

South Africa

Inkukhu Nembotyi

This dish is traditionally served with umngqusho, which is broken or stamped corn kernels mixed with an equally amount of sugar beans. The stamped corn kernels are called samp. While umngqusho is tasty, it is a mission to cook, and frankly I never have the time. The samp and beans have to be soaked overnight and then boiled and left to simmer for two hours. So, if you have time constraints like me, serve with rice or maize meal porridge. This dish serves 4-6.


2 cups cooking oil

1 onion finely sliced

3 deboned chicken breasts cut into strips

1 teaspoon ginger

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon masala

1 cup green beans

1 cup chicken stock

Salt and pepper to taste


1. Heat the oil and fry the onion until golden brown.

2. Add the chicken strips and fry until soft.

3. Add seasonings and spices.

4. Add the whole green beans and chicken stock.

5. Simmer gently until cooked through.

Peri Peri Chicken Livers

This is a classic South African starter, served with toast fingers. Easy to make and very tasty. The secret is in the sauce. If you can’t get your hands on brandy, then use sherry.


250g chicken livers

1 large onion cut into rings

2 tablespoons cooking oil

2 teaspoons peri peri spice, or cayenne pepper

Salt to taste

½ cup brandy


1. Heat the oil in a frying pan and brown the onions.

2. Add the spices and mix together with the golden brown onions.

3. Add the chicken livers and mix together, making sure it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the frying pan.

4. Add the brandy and let it simmer until the livers are cooked through.

Table Mountain to Kilimanjaro


Pumpkin in Peanut Sauce

Very yummy and easy to make. Great as a side dish. Serves 4.


½ cup water

½ pumpkin peeled and cut into small cubes

4 tablespoons peanut butter

Salt to taste


1. First boil the water in a pot then add the pumpkin cubes.

2. When pumpkin is soft and you can easily test its softness with a fork, add the peanut butter.

3. Stir the pot contents together.

4. Pour out excess water and mash.


Maize meal porridge is a staple in many African countries. It looks and tastes the same but goes by different names. Sadza in Zimbabwe, Ugali in Tanzania, Nshima in Zambia and Malawi, Pap or Putu in South Africa. The stiffness of the porridge depends on how much water you add. For a softer porridge suitable for breakfast, use double the amount of water. One thing you have to make sure of though, is that the cooking heat is just right. Too hot and the porridge will burn, so stir continuously. Although there are some who are of the opinion, that you pour the maize meal in the middle of the pot in a cone shape and just leave it to cook on a very low heat without stirring. I’m including a microwave recipe as well. That way you don’t have to watch for burning.

Ingredients for 6-8 people

5 litres water

Salt to taste

2 cups maize meal


1. Boil the water and add the salt.

2. The next step can be done in two different ways. Either gradually add the maize meal stirring all the time until it is well mixed with the water. Or, mix the two cups of maize meal with some of the water to make a thin paste and then add that to the boiling water.

3. Cover and cook over a low heat until cooked through. Give it a stir every now and then to prevent it from sticking to and burning on the bottom. You know it’s done when it starts to pull away from the sides and forms a ball in the middle of the pot.

Microwave Sadza Recipe for 3-4 people


1 cup maize meal

2 cups boiling water

1 tablespoon butter

Salt to taste


1. Pour the boiling water into a large microwave proof bowl.

2. Dissolve the salt in the water. Slowly add the maize meal to the water, stirring all the while.

3. Add the butter.

4. Microwave on high for 3 minutes. Take it out and give it a decent stir. The sadza should be starting to thicken nicely.

5. Microwave again for another 3 minutes. Take it out and stir it, adding a little more water if necessary.

6. Cover with a lid and do a few more 3 minute sessions, followed by a quick stir and more water if necessary. As soon as it resembles mashed potato it is done. Leave the bowl to stand for about 2 minutes with the lid on before you serve the sadza.



This easy to make chicken dish is great to put in a pot and forget about while you plan your next holiday. It serves 8-10 people.


3kg chicken

½ cup cooking oil

1 large onion coarsely chopped

2 large tomatoes cubed

Optional kalembula (sweet potato leaves) or something else resembling spinach

2 cups water

1 red chilli finely chopped

1 jar peanut butter

Salt and pepper to taste


1. Cut the chicken into portions and season with salt and pepper.

2. Heat the oil and cook the chicken until brown.

3. Add in the coarsely chopped onion.

4. Stir in the tomatoes and leafy vegetables. Mix well.

5. Add the water and turn down the heat, letting it all simmer for about 30 minutes.

6. Empty the jar of peanut butter into a small bowl and add enough boiling water so that you make a smooth runny paste.

7. Add your peanut butter paste and chopped chilli to your pot of chicken stew. Mix well and let it simmer for another 20 minutes.

8. Serve hot with rice or maize meal porridge.



This delicious low cost meal is perfect for those on a limited budget or wanting an alternative to lasagne.

4 tablespoons cooking oil

2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced thinly

1 bunch spring onions finely chopped

500g minced meat

4 tomatoes cut into cubes

1 small tin tomato paste

1 tablespoon vinegar

Salt and pepper to taste


Cheese Sauce Ingredients

2 tablespoons butter or margarine

1 tablespoon flour

1 cup milk

¼ cup grated cheese


1. Put 3 tablespoons of the oil in a frying pan and fry the sweet potatoes until golden brown. Remove them and put them on a plate so long until later.

2. Put the last tablespoon of oil into the frying pan, add the onions and fry them until they are soft and translucent.

3. Add the mince and brown it.

4. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, vinegar and seasoning. Simmer for half an hour.

5. While it’s simmering, prepare the cheese sauce. Melt the butter in a saucepan, add the flour and stir until mixed with the butter. Add the milk and stir until it thickens nicely. Add the cheese and mix it in so that it melts. Remove from the heat.

6. Grease a large ovenproof dish and arrange layers of sweet potatoes and the mince mixture as you would a lasagne.

7. Pour the cheese sauce on the top and sprinkle with the breadcrumbs.

8. Bake at 180 degrees Celsius or 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 45 minutes.

Masamba cakes

This is a fantastic snack to serve while watching sport on the TV or waiting for the meat to cook on the barbecue. So easy to make, you can even get your children to knock these up for you. Serves 8.


1 bunch spinach finely chopped

1 cup cooked macaroni

2 eggs

2 cups breadcrumbs

½ teaspoon sugar

½ cup cake flour

4 tablespoons margarine/butter

Salt and pepper to taste


Oil for frying


1. Boil the spinach until cooked.

2. Mix the cooked macaroni with the spinach.

3. Add 1 of the eggs, half the breadcrumbs, seasoning and sugar.

4. Mix and make flat cakes by hand.

5. In another small bowl, mix the remaining egg with the leftover breadcrumbs.

6. Dip the flat cakes into the flour and then into the egg and breadcrumb mixture.

7. Fry the masamba cakes until cooked through.

8. Serve with a salsa dip or tomato and onion relish.


Supuya Papai

This unusual soup can be served hot or cold and is guaranteed to make you feel as if you are living in the tropics.


1 medium firm papaya

1 teaspoon butter

1 large onion finely chopped

500ml stock

Salt and pepper to taste

1 cup cream

1 teaspoon fresh chopped chives


1. Peel the papaya and cut it into pieces.

2. Heat the butter and fry the papaya and onion without letting it brown.

3. Add the stock and seasoning and let it simmer until the papaya is soft.

4. Pour everything into a blender and blend it until smooth.

5. Add half the cream and mix it in thoroughly.

6. If serving cold, put it in the fridge to get cold and pour on the remainder of the cream and sprinkle the chopped chives on as a decoration just before serving.

7. If serving hot, pour the mixture from the blender back into the pot and simmer until hot.

8. Add the rest of the cream and sprinkle on the chives before serving.

Samaki Wa Nazi

Absolutely scrumptious, this tasty fish curry will have you crying out for more.


1kg firm fish

Salt and pepper to taste

3 tablespoons cooking oil

1 medium onion sliced into rings

2 cloves of garlic crushed or finely chopped

1 tablespoon curry powder

2 tablespoons tomato paste

2 red chillies finely chopped

Juice from ½ lemon

500ml coconut milk


1. Season the fish with salt and pepper.

2. Heat the oil in a pan and brown the fish.

3. Remove the fish and keep it warm for the moment.

4. Use the same oil to fry the onion until brown.

5. Add the garlic, curry powder, chillies and lemon juice.

6. Mix well and stir while it cooks for two minutes.

7. Add the coconut milk and stir until it boils.

8. Put the warm fish into the mixture and simmer for about ten minutes.

9. Serve with rice.

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    • cindyvine profile imageAUTHOR

      Cindy Vine 

      6 years ago from Cape Town

      Let us know if you try any of the recipes, Instantlyfamily!

    • instantlyfamily profile image


      6 years ago

      What a fantastic collection of recipes! I enjoyed the pics, also.

    • cindyvine profile imageAUTHOR

      Cindy Vine 

      7 years ago from Cape Town

      Spencer, its worth making the time to try them out!

    • Spencer Camus profile image

      Spencer Camus 

      7 years ago from United Kingdom

      Wow! There is so much here I would like to try. Where am I going to find the time. Nearly all of it sounds amazing!

    • cindyvine profile imageAUTHOR

      Cindy Vine 

      7 years ago from Cape Town

      Let me know which ones you liked best, Ahostagesituation!

    • ahostagesituation profile image


      7 years ago

      Looking forward to trying to make some of these. Great!

    • cindyvine profile imageAUTHOR

      Cindy Vine 

      8 years ago from Cape Town

      Midasfx I made a variation of the chicken one last night and it was awesome

    • Midasfx profile image


      8 years ago

      I just bookmarked this hub to reference later, I have never heard of any of these before and I'm interested in trying one out.

      Thanks !

    • cindyvine profile imageAUTHOR

      Cindy Vine 

      8 years ago from Cape Town

      Hey JJ, good to see ya! Let me know which one you try and if you liked it!

    • profile image

      JJ (pachuca)` 

      8 years ago

      These are awesome recipes. I can't wait to try them out. Then I can say I have made African cuisine! most sound delicious!

    • cindyvine profile imageAUTHOR

      Cindy Vine 

      8 years ago from Cape Town

      Thanks Tony! I'll let you know when I finish it. Might make it available on that South African site, as then it'll be much cheaper for South Africans to buy. Have put some of my other books on there.

    • tonymac04 profile image

      Tony McGregor 

      8 years ago from South Africa

      Thanks for these great recipes. Some are definitely going to get tried out soon! I grew up eating mngqusho in the Transkei so know it well and it remains an absolute favourite of mine. Love it in almost any combination. We sometimes had it with sour milk (amasi), sometimes with meat dripping, sometimes with stew - you name it! great food.

      Some of the others here I have not heard of but will try.

      I once had a man working for me who came from Malawi and he used to cook the leaves of a little week we get in Gauteng which has small fleshy leaves. He called it by its Malawian name which he assured us meant something like the "buttocks of the chief's fat wife"! I never could work out if he was being serious or laughing at our stupidity and gullibility! They tasted great the way he cooked them though, whatever the name!

      Thanks again for sharing and good luck with the trip and the book. Looking forward to seeing it.

      Love and peace


    • cindyvine profile imageAUTHOR

      Cindy Vine 

      8 years ago from Cape Town

      It's a pleasure KoffeKlatch Gals. One the kids might like is one I didn't put here, but you mash bananas, add in finely chopped onion and a finely chopped chilli, an egg and flour so you make a batter for fritters. Then fry it. An African variation on the old banana fritter but with the onion and chilli giving it extra bite and a great taste.

    • KoffeeKlatch Gals profile image

      Susan Hazelton 

      8 years ago from Sunny Florida

      Wonderful selection of recipes. One of the things I teach to our self-contained middle school class is cooking. I am always looking for recipes I can use. During Black History month I will be using a couple of your recipes. I like these children to understand their heritage. Thank you.

    • cindyvine profile imageAUTHOR

      Cindy Vine 

      8 years ago from Cape Town

      Billy, reckon most of the ingredients will be easily available your neck of the woods!

      FP, papaya soup is to die for, has a very unique taste!

      ReuVera, futari is definitely recommended. Hopefully you'll make it to Africa, there are lots of fantastic sights here!

    • ReuVera profile image


      8 years ago from USA

      Futari from Zambia is on my menu this week. I like sweet potatoes and I am eager to try them in peanut sauce.

      I hope some day I'll visit Africa. Then I'll use your travel guide.

    • profile image

      Feline Prophet 

      8 years ago

      All the best for your project, oh intrepid traveller! :)

      And I'm seriously considering the papaya soup!

    • billyaustindillon profile image


      8 years ago

      Lots of very different recipes here - I need to get myself over to Africa some day and try some of these - or I guess go to Wholefoods and find some of these ingredients.

    • cindyvine profile imageAUTHOR

      Cindy Vine 

      8 years ago from Cape Town

      Thanks Pam, yes I think Cris did a great job with the cover!

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 

      8 years ago from Sunny Florida

      cindyvine, Thanks for a great selection of recipes and they all look simple. I also like the book cover. That book is a great idea.

    • cindyvine profile imageAUTHOR

      Cindy Vine 

      8 years ago from Cape Town

      Hello Hello, plain cooking with different flavours to the norm.

      Simone, definitely an adventure, I love doing this sort of thing!

      Maryke, I really enjoyed some of the dishes on my travels, you know when you order from the local places.

      Dolores, some of these recipes are quite basic and just slight variations on what we've cooked for years, but just with a different taste.

      Suzie, the masamba cakes are great for using up leftover pasta!

    • suziecat7 profile image


      8 years ago from Asheville, NC

      You've got some great recipes here. I'm going to try the masamba cakes. Thanks.

    • Dolores Monet profile image

      Dolores Monet 

      8 years ago from East Coast, United States

      Cindy - the recipes sound interesting and delicious. It's great to try meals from other cultures. Adds a little zip to dinners. After many many many meals over many many years, always looking for something new!

    • Maryke van Rensbu profile image

      Maryke van Rensbu 

      8 years ago from South Africa

      Excellent hub!! I'm definitely going to try some of these recipes.

    • Simone Smith profile image

      Simone Haruko Smith 

      8 years ago from San Francisco

      It sounds as though you had quite the adventure. I'm jealous! But I'm quite thankful that you so thoughtfully collected these recipes to share with us. I hope to give them a try soon!

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 

      8 years ago from London, UK

      Thank you for introducing these wonderful recipes. They good plain cooking which I like.

    • cindyvine profile imageAUTHOR

      Cindy Vine 

      8 years ago from Cape Town

      Alekhouse, the thing I like about African food is that it's so simple to make and the ingredients aren't expensive at all. It was somewhere in the middle of driving in a national park in Tanzania that I thought, really should write a book about this experience, because when I looked for info about this trip on the internet, it was slim pickings.

      Creativeone, these recipes were too good not to share, especially in a climate where people are trying to find cheaper meal alternatives!

    • creativeone59 profile image

      benny Faye Douglass 

      8 years ago from Gold Canyon, Arizona

      Thanks cindy for a recipe smorgasboard, you have made me hungry. Thank you for sharing ,I will bookmark this hub. Godspeed. creativeone59

    • alekhouse profile image

      Nancy Hinchliff 

      8 years ago from Essex Junction, Vermont

      Wow, Cindy, what a great group of recipes. I have had the pleasure of eating African food, having spent a summer there a few years back, and it was all good. I love sweet potatoes, peanuts and stews, so I know I will like most of what you've included here.

      Really nice cover Cris glad you've decided to do a travel guide from a woman's point of view. I know your humorous touches will make it a great read.

    • cindyvine profile imageAUTHOR

      Cindy Vine 

      8 years ago from Cape Town

      Thanks Lorlie, the triangle shaped folded samoosas are sold all over the African countries I've traveled through. In India the samosas I found weren't in the folded triangular shape. However, I do think that they were brought to Africa by the Indian settlers and adapted here so that they have become African!

    • lorlie6 profile image

      Laurel Rogers 

      8 years ago from Bishop, Ca

      I was married to an East Indian who grew up in Uganda and his mother made the most wonderful Samosas I have ever eaten. She had 7 sons and labored mightily to make each and every little Samosa so each son would have his fill. I wonder now if the recipe had its origins in India or Africa. Do you know?

      These recipes look wonderful, Cindy, and I have bookmarked this hub for future reference!


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