M is for Malawi: Nsima & Ndiwo (Polenta Cakes with Wilted Kale)

Nsima & Ndiwo.  It sounds really exotic, but in more common terms it's polenta cakes with wilted kale.  Gluten free and vegan goodness.

Nsima & Ndiwo. It sounds really exotic, but in more common terms it’s polenta cakes with wilted kale. Gluten free and vegan goodness.

I know I’m in for a rough Cooking Around the World when I can’t instinctively place the country on the globe.  That was the case for Malawi.  I mean, I narrowed it down to either the South Pacific or Africa, but I really wasn’t sure which.  Turns out it’s Africa.  Who knew?

Anyway, this was by far one of the more difficult countries to research.  While there is information on the country itself, facts about their cuisine were few and far between.  From what I could find, the bulk of their meals are the same: nsima and ndiwo.  For breakfast, lunch, and dinner, they eat cornmeal/maize (nsima) with some sort of relish (ndiwo).  The hot nsima is placed on a cold dish, which solidifies it.  The ndiwo is then placed on top, and the entire thing is eaten by hand.

I attempted to eat the nsima by hand.  It was very messy.  Back to the utensils...

I attempted to eat the nsima by hand. It was very messy. Back to the utensils…

Based on the availability of ingredients, I decided to make a traditional vegetable ndiwo.  So, what at first seemed like a completely exotic dish, slowly transformed into something I was pretty comfortable with: polenta, cooked on the stove, and topped with wilted kale, tomatoes, and onions.  Um, yeah, that sounds like something I can eat!

We tried to eat it with our hands. It didn’t turn out so well.  So forks and knives it was.  All things considered, I was pleasantly surprised with this dinner.  Going in, I really had no idea what to expect.  But polenta and kale?  Yeah, I’d do that again…

Malawi Nsima (Polenta Cakes)

Adapted from http://www.friendsofmalawi.org/learn_about_malawi/volunteer_life/recipes.html

Ingredients

  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 2 ½ cups vegetable stock
  • ¼ tsp salt
  1. In a heavy bottomed sauce pan, heat the broth (and salt) over medium heat.
  2. Once the broth is warm, stir in half of the cornmeal until it dissolves.
  3. When the mixture starts to bubble, slowly stir in the remaining cornmeal.
  4. Stir continuously with a wooden spoon until the mixture is very thick. Spoon nsima onto cold plates and flatten.   Top with ndiwo.

Malawi Vegetable Ndiwo (Sautéed Kale)

Ingredients

  • Olive oil
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 small tomato, diced
  • 3-4 cups chopped kale
  • 1 cup vegetable stock
  1. Heat oil in a sauté pan over medium heat. Sauté onion until translucent, then add garlic and cook until fragrant.
  2. Add tomato and kale and stir to combine. Top with vegetable stock, cove, and simmer until kale is cooked through.
  3. Serve hot, on top of nsima.
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3 thoughts on “M is for Malawi: Nsima & Ndiwo (Polenta Cakes with Wilted Kale)

  1. Pingback: R is for Russia: Beef Stroganoff | Quinoa and Cookies

  2. I think it is great you are trying other cuisines.

    However, as a Malawian, I can say that Malawians do not eat Nsima for breakfast – we do have a varied cuisine.

    Also, we do not place “ndiwo” on top of nsima. It usually goes on the side. I have never seen it done the way you have.

    Like

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