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6 delicacies you must try in Mozambique

A few weeks back, I took a trip to Maputo, Mozambique. I was so excited and I spent a couple of days touring my new destination and getting to explore not just the culture, but also the food.

Matapa .PHOTO: Flickr

A few weeks back, I took a trip to Maputo, Mozambique. I was so excited and I spent a couple of days touring my new destination and getting to explore not just the culture, but also the food. I believe the best way to really immerse yourself in a culture is not just to visit their attractions, or hear their history but also to eat their food; then you would have had a full experience.

Maputo is the capital of Mozambique located on the southeastern coast of Africa. And because it is a Portuguese-speaking country, this reflects in their cuisine – there’s a lot of Portuguese ingredients and techniques involved. Also Maputo is close to the seaside hence you would be doing yourself a disservice if you do not enjoy the variety of fresh seafood available. If you ever go to Mozambique, these are the delicacies you will come across and you should definitely give a try!

But first, three interesting facts about Mozambique:
• The Mozambicans eat a lot of fresh seafood, cassava, corn millet, steak, potatoes, cashew nuts, coconuts, steak, chicken and more.
• Lago Niassa is a Lake in Mozambique and the third largest and second deepest lake in Africa and has more species of fish than any other lake in the world.
• Over 50 per cent of the population is under 15 years old and there are more than 40 languages spoken but Portuguese is the national language.

Pao as they are popularly called can be found almost everywhere in Mozambique. They are bread rolls typically made in wood–fired ovens and the texture is quite light and fluffy. You would enjoy it most when it is straight out of the oven, warm and delicious. Paozinho can be eaten just as it is or with another meal. If served with steak cooked in hot piri piri sauce it is called a Prego roll, which is a party in the mouth.

Bolo Polana
When it comes to dessert, then look no further than the Bolo Polana, which is cashew and potato cake-a fusion of Portuguese and Mozambican ingredients. Bolo Polana is a traditional dessert usually served at special events and the name Bolo Polana comes from a place in Mozambique’s capital, Maputo called Polana. If you like mashed potatoes then the texture will not be strange to you because Bolo Polana is mashed potato mixed with powdered cashews (Mozambique is known to produce a lot of cashews so they are readily available and affordable)

Matapa is an interesting dish made from fresh Cassava leaves, ground peanut, coconut milk and sometimes garlic, this is blended together to make a sauce that is green; it can be cooked with crab and sweet to taste. It is found in every household and if you want to have a taste of this you would have to go into the local restaurants in Mozambique-many restaurants are judged by the quality of their Matapa. Matapa is typically served with rice and fish or shrimps and is very delicious.

Piri Piri Chicken
This was one of my favorite foods to enjoy during my stay in Maputo. It can also be called Galinha Assada, which is the Portuguese word for roasted chicken. It is interesting how many flavours of roast chicken exist in the world and how enjoyable they are. In Mozambique, the Chicken is mostly grilled and marinated in Piri Piri sauce (a sauce made from cayenne pepper, garlic cloves and parsley)

Grilled Prawns
This was readily available with every meal I had and I have to confess that I may have gone overboard with eating prawns. They came in large sizes and I had them grilled, steamed, fried and anyway I requested. Seafood is readily available in Mozambique because of the large coastline  (about 1535 miles), you would find Calamari, Octopus, a wide variety of fishes and even more options of seafood.

If you are familiar with South African Pap then this dish is similar. The locals eat it almost daily. Ncima is ground maize boiled with water until it turns into a thick porridge. It is best served with stewed meat and can be garnished with some greens – if you prefer. If you’re looking for a meal to fill you up, this is it.

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