A culinary journey through Zambezi’s soul

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A culinary journey through Zambezi’s soul

KATIMA MULILO – Travellers to the Zambezi region can expect to be taken on an exquisite culinary adventure.

The region has a myriad traditional foods, each telling a story of cultural identity and heritage. 

Businesswoman Muyoba Lydia Ngulwa (25) from Bukalo, who sells various food items, assures that there are delicious foods in the region such as the famous Zambezi bream, dried fish, lisoto and sihonyo (derived from water lilies).

She said the culinary adventure is a gateway to understanding the region’s soul.

Ngulwa noted that as Namibia prepares to celebrate 34 years of independence, Zambezi extends a hearty welcome to all Namibians, especially those planning their very first visit to the region. 

“We cannot wait to be your gracious hosts. Feel free to embrace local cuisines, as it is a way of connecting with the heart of the Zambezi. It will be fostering unity, and celebrating the diversity that makes Namibia a beacon of cultural richness,” she promised.

Her favourite food is mutate, which is a sour-sweet plant, and delele (commonly known as okra). Her favourite dish is a mixture of all these with nshima (pap), served with Zambezi bream and mutete.

“I would suggest visitors try to eat food like lisoto and sihonyo. These are the most delicious foods found in Zambezi. In Bukalo, community members like me know how to prepare it very well and tasty,” she said proudly.

She observed that there is art to preparing the celebrated Zambezi bream with spinach and pap.

One such way is to pan-fry it.

“You remove the scales, and cut off the entrails. Once you are done, the skin can be salted and crisped up. Rub the bream with olive oil and season with salt, and spice if any. Then grill for eight to 10 minutes until the skin starts to crisp up,” she said.

For visitors who would like to buy a cooked meal, the bream costs anything between N$10 to N$80, depending on the size. 

A spoon of spinach costs N$8, while pap is N$3 per serving.

Former member of parliament Patricia Siska also welcomed visitors, saying they should try out the most renowned Zambezi bream with pap.

“We don’t take it without veggies. There is always a side-dish such as delele (okra), mutete or mangambwa (pumpkin). It can be prepared with groundnut powder. We also have dry fish and meat. We dry the meat and pound it. It can be served with pap. We cook the bubble fish (ndombe) fresh or dried. We have a lot of special dishes prepared by our local women,” Siska noted. She said her favourite dish is lisoto, mixed with Zambezi bream. Lisoto can also be prepared with marathon chicken or beef stew.

Hence, she called on visitors to try the local dishes once in the region.

“There are a lot of different fish species around, but visitors must try the Zambezi bream. It’s a unique fish. Visitors can buy and take along fresh fish. They can also buy dried fish at the open market. There are a lot of dried veggies they can likewise buy and take with them,” she continued. 

Siska called on local entrepreneurs, especially women, to take advantage of the Independence Day celebrations and showcase their products.

“We should receive these visitors, and give them a warm welcome. This is the time when we reflect and honour the heroes and heroines who shed their blood for independence. We need moral values and to build on the Namibian House that late president Hage Geingob has been preaching. We must celebrate and change whatever has been negative, so we leave Namibia in a better place, and not just drinking, but taking stock of how far we have come as a nation,” the former MP cautioned. 

A food vendor at the Katima Mulilo Open Market, Brenda Sihope, sells fish, beef stew and pap.

She welcomes visitors to the region, and calls on them and locals alike to visit the open market and try out some of their delicious local food.

“People can come to eat pap, fish and meat. A piece of beef stew is N$20. Fish is available, both cooked and uncooked. We welcome visitors. We hope visitors can come and support us. We are looking forward to this day. They can come and buy all types of local food here,” she said in a welcoming tone.

Patricia Sikabongo also sells fried Zambezi bream, lisoto, makwangala, inkuma (types of water lilies from the Zambezi River) and pap.

“Visitors can come taste lisoto, and all types of veggies. It’s good to be independent as a nation. People have died fighting for this country. So, we must show appreciation, and enjoy this day peacefully. We welcome all visitors to Zambezi,” Sikabongo remarked.

Meanwhile, Dralicia Muyenga, also a food vendor at the Katima Mulilo Open Market, encouraged visitors and locals to visit their stalls and support their businesses.

Kachana Majakube promises visitors and locals the best beef stew, fried fish, pap and various veggies. 

“People should come support us. They will get all types of traditional food. We are happy to host independence celebrations here in Zambezi,” she stated. 

The open market operates from 07h00 until 18h00.