When Sandy returned from Malawi back in 2005, he often mentioned eating Nsima. It is the Malawian staple eaten at almost every meal. Having heard about nsima and its importance to Malawians for years, I was eager to try it.
Friday night, an American lady working with the CCAP invited us to her home for dinner. One of her adopted Malawian sons was there with his wife and their two-year-old daughter. Kay, our hostess, had prepared roast beef and vegetables. When we got on the subject of nsima and they heard that I had never had it before, Kay’s daughter-in-law jumped up and offered to make it. I got to stay in the kitchen with her and watch her make it. It’s fairly simple but definitely takes finesse. You boil a pot of water with a little bit of corn flour in it. Once it is boiling, you gradually add more flour, beating it constantly until it is a thick, doughy paste. You then use a special wide wooden spoon to make it the shape of a madeleine. I think I will attempt to make it sometime soon, but since I am notorious for screwing up instant oatmeal, don’t hold your breath.
The finished product looks a lot like grits if they are left to cool and clump together. Nsima, similar to grits, takes on the flavor of whatever it is accompanying. We had ours with tomatoes and eggs and ate it the traditional way, with our hands, mashing everything together into one compact bite.
It is really good and really filling. We also had homemade custard with fresh pineapple. Kay said she would teach me to make the custard the next time we see her.
Please note the two-year-old’s face as I eat the nsima in the picture above.