By Juliette

I am heading to Zambia in September and I just can’t wait! Ross and I are heading off to visit our friends Sarah and Spencer who have recently moved to the capital, Lusaka. In preparation for this, Sarah, Ross and I cooked up a Zambian feast which I am delighted to share with you.

We used recipes from femonomics which were very helpful and also somewhat ambiguous as to quantities and timings, so I hope what we came up with resembles Zambian food. We’ll find out in September! Here are the dishes we made (with varying degrees of success)

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Fried Rape

This was probably the most straightforward recipe, although we didn’t enjoy calling it rape (despite that being the name of the vegetable). We used spring greens instead of actual rape which worked well. I wasn’t sure about sticking in half a raw onion and tomato midway through cooking but in fact they had a lovely taste and texture. I also got into the spirit of freeform cooking and added a dash of lemon juice for zing. Is that fusion cookery?

Sweet potatoes with groundnuts

This went down a storm with Ross and Sarah, but I found it too claggy and could only eat a mouthful. We used peanut butter instead of groundnuts, and we used a cheap supermarket peanut butter with a plentiful sugar content which meant it was incredibly sweet, like a pudding. I would make it again, but I would have a classier PB and use less of it.

N’shima

N’shima is a staple food made of maize which is eaten with many meals in Zambia. I do not think we properly worked out the timings on this one so although it was delicious in a lovely bland stodgy way, it had the consistency of a thick cake batter and stuck to your fingers as cake batter would. It was fun to slurp off though and I am so excited to eat n’shima daily on our Zambian trip.

Beans with tomato, onion and green pepper

We were all dubious about using a usually-awful green pepper in this dish, but decided to stay loyal and true to the recipe and I’m glad we did! After agonising over the bean aisle in the supermarket for far too long I went for aduki beans and they were very satisfying. It gave me a real appreciation for the bitter, strange taste of a green pepper which worked well with the sweet tomato and onion, and the smooth beans. I enjoyed this dish so much that I want to experiment with other bean-vegetable-pot combinations. Thanks, Zambia!

Tomato Gravy

Without a doubt the star of the show. I was licking the saucepan clean, but then perhaps it’s because I’m too basic and was most excited by a familiar tomato-onion combo? I even added garlic because I couldn’t resist making what is essentially pasta sauce. However, we did embrace the method of grating the tomatoes and it was time consuming but tasty. I added some curry powder, turmeric and saffron and tried to encourage myself to be brave and confident with the seasonings. This was impressive for me as I usually have squash so weak it looks like water.

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Overall I enjoyed our feast a lot, and I especially enjoyed a wrap the next day filled with greens, beans and tomato gravy (with a healthy dose of sriracha). It has made me more adventurous with my cooking and even more excited for our Zambian adventures ahead.