Traditional Shona CuisineThe Shona are a people that rely on their agriculture so most of their cuisine revolves around the seasonality of their crops. The main staple in Shona cuisine is corn (maize). The corn is combined with water in a pot to create a thick porridge consistency called sadza. Sadza is the national dish of Zimbabwe and a main dish among the Shona.

Typical Meals

A typical meal consists of sadza with relish, either a vegetable stew or nyama (meat). A drink called Rock Shandy consisting of Angostura bitters and lemon juice can also be served. The traditional way of consuming such a meal is to eat with one’s hands. They would roll the sadza into a ball and dip it into the relish.Other Shona staples are peanuts, beans, butternut squash, cucumbers, and pumpkin leaves. Pumpkin leaves are often eaten fresh or mixed into stews such as dovi (peanut butter stew with chicken). Exotic game such as springbok (African gazelle), kudu (antelope), ostrich, warthog and goat are also eaten during special occasions. The type of meat the host provides signifies the importance of the occasion. The meat is often roasted whole on a spitfire and is accompanied by the ubiquitous sadza and fruits. At the more expensive restaurants, you could even find crocodile tail and impala.


Some of the more popular Shona sweets are the mapopo (sweet papaya candy), sweet potato cookies, and roasted butternut squash. During the summer months, markets offer flying ants and dried mopane worms. Both are eaten fried and have are salty, buttery and chewy.

Picture: Mikael Miro – Fotolia