Food Culture Southern Africa

Malawian traditional dishes for tourists and food lovers

Written by See Africa Today

A serving of sumptuous and finger licking meal is more than enough to make one fall in love with a place or the chef indeed. In this case, you will fall in love with Malawi!

Although the dishes prepared here are common in the African countries, there is something quite distinct with Malawi because her meals savour the taste.

Let’s look at some of the best meals you will have in the African country nicknamed “the warm heart of Africa”.

Mgaiwa Phala
Mgaiwa Phala traditional food Malawi

A bowl of the Mgaiwa Phala meal – Courtesy

This is a type of very sweet porridge gotten from grounded maize which is then mixed with milk and sweetened with sugar.

It is highly nutritious and keeps one full for a very long time. It magical sweetness is perhaps, in the way it is prepared by the locals.


If you visit the northern region of Malawi, be sure to get a serving of Kondowole. It is made from grounded cassava which is then mixed in hot water and it is mashed.

It has a very fine texture similar to that of wheat flour and has a very sweet taste not to mention the nutritional benefits.

Preparing ugali

Preparing nsima, Malawi’s traditional food – Courtesy

This is the Malawian name for what is popularly referred to as ‘ugali’ in East Africa and ‘pap’ in South Africa. It is grounded maize which is them mixed with hot water and cooked under low heat.

It is then served with other dishes such as fish which is a common delicacy in Malawi and also vegetables.

Preparing Kachumbari

A plate of shum as served in Malawi – [Photo/Roots Cultures]

Shum is a Malawian name for tomato and onion salad commonly known as ‘kachumbari’. It is prepared with sliced onions, tomatoes, coriander and pepper.

What’s unique about the Malawian culture is that Shum is eaten separately unlike in other East African countries like Kenya where it is served as an accompaniment to roasted meat (Nyama Choma).


If you grew up in the countryside, you probably grew sweet potatoes. Kholowa is simply a vegetable salad where the sweet potato leaves are fried in oil with lots of onions and tomatoes before serving with Nsima or Kondowole.

Grilled fish

The most common type of grilled fish which is a delicacy in Malawi is chambo. Mpasa and Kampango (looks more like catfish) are also common in the lakeside where they are grilled on the spot.

Preparating sweet potato leaves

Preparing mkhwani, another Malawian delicacy – Courtesy

This is prepared from finely chopped pumpkin leaves which are later mixed with tomatoes, onions and a lot of peanut flour to give it a distinct flavour.

It is served as a relish to Nsima or rice.


It is a dessert prepared from bananas which are cut into strips, laced with salt, cornmeal and deep fried until they are crispy. They are then served with butter and sugar to give them a better taste

Enjoy Malawian delicacy!!

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About the author

See Africa Today

Pharis Kinyua is the editor of See Africa Today. With over seven years of experience in digital media, he has a soft spot for African tours and travel. His drive is to tell the rest of the world what Africa offers, the best accommodation facilities, national parks, culture, shopping malls and best airline deals to travel to Africa

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