The staple food in Zambia is a thick cornmeal mash called nshima. Some Zambians feel that a meal is not complete without it. Other basics such as rice, potatoes or pasta are merely substitutes for this popular dish. To prepare nshima, women in rural areas pound dried white maize kernels into a fine meal using a large mortar and pestle. In the city, people buy ground cornmeal in stores. For breakfast, Zambians may serve nshima thinned with water or milk and sweetened slightly with sugar. For lunch or supper, people usually eat nshima with fish, meat, peanuts or beans. Nshima na nkuku is a popular chicken dish.
Zambia's many lakes and rivers provide fish. Kapenta, a small sardine-like fish, is indigenous to Lake Tanganyika, but now thrives in Lake Kariba as well. It is dried, fried and made into relish. Baskets of dried kapenta are sold in markets across the country. Other fish include bream, ndombi (catfish), nkupi, mpasa (lake salmon), Nile perch and tiger fish. 
  Did you know?
Zambians pride themselves on their hospitality. "Do not look at a visitor's face but at his stomach" is a proverb throughout the country. 
Other common foods are sorghum and millet (cereal grains), cassava (a starchy rootstock), sweet potatoes and groundnuts (peanuts). Zambians use onions and tomatoes in soups and relishes, and the leaves of beans, okra, cow peas, pumpkins and cassava for greens. Bananas and mangoes grow well in many parts of the country. 

Most villages brew their own beers. Commercial beers include Mosi Lager (named for Mosi-oa-Tunya or Victoria Falls), Rhino Lager, and Chibuku (also called Shake-Shake). Umunkoyo is a non-alcoholic drink made from roots.

As many homes in rural areas do not have electricity, women usually cook food outside over charcoal or wood fires. When the meal is ready, the family members wash their hands: the father first, the mother second, and then the children in order of age. If visitors are sharing the food, they are given the honour of washing first. After the meal, everyone washes again, in the same order.

 In rural areas, mothers may eat with their daughters and young sons, while older boys eat with their fathers. In cities, however, families usually eat together. Because the climate is so pleasant, some people eat their meals outside, sitting on woven mats.

  Did you know?
Today, many urban Zambians eat bread, which is not a traditional food. To satisfy this new demand, the country has begun to grow and import wheat.

2 bunches fresh collard greens (or spinach), washed and chopped
250 ml raw peanuts, ground
1 onion, sliced
2 medium tomatoes, sliced


In a medium-sized saucepan, boil the onion and tomatoes with the ground peanuts, adding salt to taste and water as needed. After a few minutes, add chopped greens. Stirring occasionally, continue cooking until the peanuts are soft and the mixture has become a fairly thick buttery sauce (15-20 minutes). Serve hot or cold.