Culture Food

9 Popular Dishes in Botswana You Should Try

popular food in botswana
Written by Jesca

Popular food in Botswana reflects the country’s rich culture and history. Often called the Rainbow’s Gastronomy worldwide, the country’s rich ethnic heritage plays a major role in its culinary offerings. It is a landlocked Southern African country, with 70% of its land being the Kgalagadi desert. Namibia, South Africa, Zambia, and Zimbabwe are among its neighbouring countries.

About 2.3 million people live in the flat terrain, most belonging to the Tswana ethnic group. There is also a significant minority known as the San, who are considered the first inhabitants of Southern Africa and still lead a hunter-gatherer lifestyle. The climate in the area is warm and dry, and Batswana’s diet mainly comprises meat, starches, grains, and indigenous plants.

What is a Typical Breakfast in Botswana?

Pap is a type of maize porridge that is a staple food in Botswana. It is served with most meals and can be eaten alone or used to scoop up stews and sauces. Pap is usually made by boiling maize meal in water until it forms a thick, smooth consistency. It is a simple yet filling dish that is loved by many.

Porridge made from “bogobe” is another traditional breakfast dish. It is made by boiling sorghum, corn or millet flour in water until it becomes a soft paste, which is then slowly cooked. Milk and sugar can be added if desired. 

What is the National Food of Botswana?

Seswaa is a traditional meat dish that is a staple in Botswana. The dish is made by boiling beef, goat, or lamb with onion and salt until tender, then shredding it and serving it with pap or rice. Seswaa is often served on special occasions, such as weddings, and is a favourite among locals. Botswana boasts diverse traditional dishes incorporating meats, cereals, nuts, fruits, fish, and seafood. In addition to beef, goat, and deer, the country offers unique meats like giraffe, ostrich, and oryx. Additionally, Botswana is home to delicacies like peanuts and the highly sought-after Kalahari truffle.

What is Botswana’s Most Popular Food?

1. Dikgobe 

Popular food in Botswana

Dikgobe. Photo/TasteAtlas.

This is one of the most popular food in Botswana, consisting of a combination of sorghum, beans and samp (maize), giving the dish a porridge-like consistency. To make Dikgobe, cook the beans and sorghum mixture with a small amount of fat or oil over low heat. Dikgobe is often flavoured with tomato, onion, and chilli pepper and is popular among locals. This popular dish is a great source of protein and is a filling meal often eaten for lunch or dinner. 

2. Segwapa/Biltong

Popular food in Botswana

Biltong/Segwapa. Photo/ The Food Dictator.

When a cow is slaughtered, Botswanians assign its parts to different types of preparation, consumption and storage. The making of Segwapa, also known as biltong, is a popular method they use to preserve and consume beef during winter. Most Batswanians use this method in their homes, especially in rural areas, because there is no refrigeration to preserve meat. The natives douse Strips of meat with vinegar before it is lathered in a bed of salt and spices, including coriander, cloves, and black pepper. Segwapa comes in all shapes and sizes: shredded, thick, and stick-thin.

3. Seswaa 

Popular food in Botswana

Seswaa. Photo/YouTube.

If you like meat, another dish to eat in Botswana is Seswaa. The dish usually features cuts of beef such as the shoulder, rib, rump, and neck. To make it, beef, goat, and sheep are cooked slowly until completely tender. The preparation process starts in the morning in rural parts of Botswana and continues throughout the afternoon until it’s ready to be eaten at night. The stew is comforting, and the beef pieces melt in the mouth with occasional stirring. It can be served alone, or accompanied by beans or rice, and is also used to fill sandwiches and other types of bread.

4. Mopane worms

Popular food in Botswana

Mopane worms are a delicacy in Botswana. Photo by YouTube

Mopane worms are a type of caterpillar that is a delicacy in Botswana. They are usually dried, boiled, fried, and served as a snack or side dish. Mopane worms are high in protein and are a favorite among locals, and they are usually served with pap or other starchy dishes.

5. Mogatla

Popular food in Botswana

Mogatla. Photo/Chef’s Pencil.

Mogatla, literally meaning “oxtail” in Setswana, is a stew savored across Botswana. This popular food in Botswana could be regarded as a national comfort food because of its deep ties with Botswana’s culture. Batswana commonly generate income by raising and selling cattle. During special events, they tend to reserve the cheaper parts of the animal, such as the tail for food. Although oxtail takes a long time to cook due to its bone weight and tough meat, it becomes a flavorful stew after being cooked with onions, tomatoes, broth, and bay leaves. 

6. Memoto 

chicken feet Botswana

Menoto/chicken feet Botswana. Photo/YouTube.

In Setswana, “Menoto” means “chicken feet”, a popular food in Botswana, often enjoyed during lunchtime. Sold in most butcher shops and food stores throughout the country, you may season and spice the chicken feet, then roasted over a BBQ. Alternatively, Memoto can be cooked into a stew to extract their gelatin. 

7. Leleme 

Leleme

Leleme. Photo/Chef’s Karte.

Batswana have a unique sense of humour that involves designating a specific piece of meat to women called leleme la kgomo, a cow’s tongue in Setswana. While it is prepared like other meat, the tradition specifies that only women should eat it because Tswana women are known for talking a lot. However, it is not clear from folklore whether the cow tongue is intended to cure talkativeness. Regardless, roasted beef tongue has a gentle and comforting flavour many Batswana appreciate.

8. Ditlhako 

Ditlhako or cattle hooves

Ditlhako or cattle hooves. Photo/Zambian Kitchen.

Ditlhako is a traditional Botswana dish made by cooking cattle hooves until they become tender. Despite its name meaning “shoes”, it is a popular dish among Batswana who dislike wasting food. The slow-cooked meat adds gelatine to the soup and provides health benefits such as strengthening joints and aiding skin elasticity.

9. Morogo

Morogo

Morogo. Photo/YouTube.

Vegetarians are not left out of the most popular food in Botswana. Enjoy Morogo, a leafy green vegetable, also known as wild spinach, that is boiled and served as a side dish. It is often mixed with beans or meat and is a great source of vitamins and minerals. Morogo is commonly found in Botswana markets and is a popular dish among locals.

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About the author

Jesca

Besigye is a Ugandan writer and a teacher by profession. She loves adventure and travelling that's why she loves writing travel blogs.

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