I recently gave another more comprehensive presentation with a DVD about my visit to Malawi which was followed by a lunch prepared by the support group members with the emphasis on Malawian flavours. Those who attended gave generous donations. One member – by courtesy of Wikipedia- also presented his research findings about Malawian food just before we sampled all of the delicious dishes. His presentation is listed below for those who may be interested:
Despite its natural riches, Malawi remains a very poor country. In this little country most people are subsistence farmers. This means they grow most of their own food in small gardens. If a family has extra food, they take it to market to trade for other necessities. Malawi cuisine has remained largely free of culinary influences from the outside world, until the late 19th century, with the exception of the use of cassava, Peanut, and chilli pepper plants which arrived along with the slave trade during the early 1500s. These foodstuffs have had a large influence on the local cuisine, but less on the preparation methods. Malawi cooking has remained mostly traditional. The staple food in Malawi is Nsima (which is the Malawian equivalent of Zambian Nshima and is made either from cornmeal, maize or ground, dried, cassava.) Nsima is a thick porridge that can be moulded into patties and served with either beans, meat, or vegetables collectively called Ndiwo. Other Malawian dishes are prepared with rice, cassava or potatoes. However, the keystone of any traditional Malawian meal is starch; the relish is a secondary element intended to give flavour to the food. Because the Malawi people have always been farmers, this meal is highly regarded because it gives the necessary energy to work in the field all day.
So all over Malawi, the meal is composed of two main dishes: the starch (Nsima) and the relish (Ndiwo). While the recipe for starch is mostly the same all over Malawi, the relish is very different from region to region. In the east of Malawi, it is made mostly from vegetables, as meat is expensive and most people can’t afford it. The basic ingredients in this region are rice and foutou (massed plantain and cassava) and fufu (fermented cassava). A variety of local ingredients are used while preparing other dishes like spinach stew, cooked with tomato, peppers, chillies, onions and Peanut butter. Cassava (manioc) plants are also consumed as green salad. A traditional recipe for the basic vegetable Ndiwo includes Onion, tomatoes and green vegetables, especially cassava.
The Malawi Lake, located in the eastern regions of Malawi, is a great source of various types of Fish. The main types are Chambo, Mlamba (Catfish), Usipa, and Kampango. The people that live around the lake use the fish to cook delicious relishes and other foods. A traditional Ndiwo made from fish is the Curried Chambo fish. The main ingredients for this dish are: fish fillets, lemon juice, flour, onions, curry powder, fruit chutney and carrots. Chambo (Tilapia fish) is the country’s speciality and the main lake delicacy. Another traditional food is Wali wa samaki, made from salmon, vermicelli, Onion, carrots, rice and seasonings.
In Malawian cuisine there are some exotic recipes based on insects. These dishes have different preparation methods than other dishes. Ana a Njuchi (wild bee larvae) are dried and then fried with salt and dried again. They are served as a relish or appetizer. To cook bwamnoni (large green bush crickets) you have to remove wings and horned part of legs. After that, boil them in water for five minutes, then dry in the sun. Fry with a little salt and a little fat if desired. This dish is served as an Ndiwo relish. The nsensenya (shield bugs) are washed and fried with a little salt until they are brown and also served as a relish.
Special Equipment for Malawian Cooking
The Malawian cooking methods are basic ones and you don’t need any special equipment to cook any of the dishes in the Malawi cuisine. Your everyday cooking pots and pans are enough to cook a complete Malawian meal. However, if you want a true Malawian food experience, you should know that cooking is still done the traditional way in Malawi. In the vast majority of Malawian homes, food is cooked over a wood fire using a tripod made of three supporting stones. Women (and children helpers) are responsible for everything concerning the food from market shopping to dish washing. As Nshima is eaten with the hands, everyone washes in a communal bowl before and after the meal. Many Malawians have mud stoves outside of the house, where they cook bread. Since Nshima and Ndiwo are the essential elements of the Malawian cuisine, there are some special tools used when cooking these dishes. One of these tools is mthiko, the cooking stick that is specially made for cooking Nshima and Ndiwo.
Masterchef & Musical Fun Night
I was also privileged during the following weeks to attend a fun novelty music night with the added attraction of our own community Master chefs who produced an Entree, Main course and Dessert. We all voted to determine first prize.
Profit after expenses all went towards Sanctuary Victoria to provide help for a most deserving refugee family.
The music, sing alongs (such as The Lion sleeps to night, The Pub with no Beer etc), and musical questions for added prizes all made for a convivial evening.
To give you flavour here are a few of the questions about golden oldies – see if you’re familiar with any of these songs and can answer the questions?
How old was the Naughty Lady of Shady Lane – sung by Dean Martin?
Wobbly Boot – Slim Dusty
Do you know what a wobbly boot is and what is a galoot?
Lily the Pink- The Scaffold
What did medicinal compound do for everyone?
Little Boxes – Pete Seeger
What is ticky tacky?
What are all these songs all about?
Rivers of Babylon – Steve Earle
True Blue – John Williamson
Okie From Muskogee – Merle Haggard
Matilda, Matilda – Harry Belafonte
Who was Matilda?
The rules were there were no rules except to relax and enjoy yourself and laugh. Correct and clever answers , good and and not so good guesses , those attempting to sing a few lines and impersonations received varying scores with prizes awarded according to perceived levels of agreement and enthusiasm.
What more could you ask for a good nights entertainment.