August 30: My Nsima Challenge

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Nsima, pictured above can be best described as the staple food in Malawi. It is such an important contribution to the diet in Malawi, as well as the culture.

Every Malawian no matter how rich or poor, villager or Member of Parliament eats nsima almost, if not every single day of their lives.

Since nsima is so important in Malawi, I wanted to dedicate a whole post to it!

So what exactly is nsima you may ask? It is the white starch food shown in the photo above. It is made from added maize flour to boiling water and stirring until it thickens. You then remove it from the pot with a special wide spoon dipped in water to prevent sticking. Each little pile is referred to as a ‘lump’ and surprisingly the lumps form a little bit of a coating on the outside so they do not stick together! Nsima is served with a variety of relishes which are always made of a ‘soup’ base (tomato, oil, salt and sometimes onion) then any vegetable, bean, egg, meat, or tofu can be added.

Now getting back to my Nsima Challenge! Since nsima is so important to Malawian’s but I have been cooking a lot on my own and eating in restaurants while traveling I wanted to make sure I was eating enough nsima! I challenged myself to eat nsima for as many days in a row as I could manage! Starting on August 12th, I have had nsima at least once each day for a total so far of 19 days of nsima!

Pictured below are my first three attempts at making nsima. Day one: very ugly and hard lumps. Day 2: much nicer lumps at the expense of the consistency, which was like mushy baby food. Day 3: still not perfect as it was not overly hard or soft, but my lumps were very lumpy!

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I am still busy improving my nsima skills, I am learning to be patient enough to let it cook, to stand far enough away so I do not get burned (again) by spitting nsima pots, and working on my stirring technique which seems to add the air needed to get the right consistency!

Luckily for me (and the EWB team) I had better luck baking this double chocolate cake for the departure of the Junior Fellows and APS to Canada!

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Next post: My trip to Dedza

Update! I made it to 31 days in a row of eating nsima at least once a day! I think my challenge proved to be valid after moving in with a Malawian family (who did not know about my challenge) I still ate nsima at least once a day for almost 2 weeks!

I have decided to see if I could beat my own record by restarting (I figure I might as well!). Take 2 started on September 14th, making me now at a total of 3 days.

Update 2: Nsima challenge 2 only ended up lasting 3 days. I think I will just go with the flow and eat what I am given! 🙂

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6 responses to “August 30: My Nsima Challenge

  1. Good job, you are becoming closer and closer to their culture! But please don’t burn yourself to much.
    Will you reach the 4 months of eating Nsima?

    Have great day

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    • Hi Jon, thanks for following my blog! I am trying to be more careful now! And I doubt I will make it the whole trip mostly because of logistics but so far so good!

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    • Hi Marleah, thanks for following my blog! I would love to do a Malawi dinner party when I am back! I will bring everything I need to make some dishes for us! As long as we also do an Ethiopian night!

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    • Hi Katina thanks for the comment! As far as I know, they never eat it with anything sweet. However in the first stage of cooking you make a thin porrage of water and maize flour which can be eaten as is when sick, for kids, and for breakfast in which case they may add a bit of sugar! Maybe you can do a Malawian food post on the gumdropbutton! 😉

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