African Cornmeal Must (Nsima)

Serves     8-12


4 to 6 cups cornmeal, corn flour, or ground maize (1/2 cup per serving is sufficient)
1 tsp. salt


Pour cold water (2 1/2 cups for each cup of cornmeal) into a large pot and add salt. Over high heat, begin to bring to a boil.

After a few minutes, when the water is warm, slowly add the about half the cornmeal to the water, stirring continuously with a whisk. Continue cooking and stirring until the mixture begins to boil and bubble. Reduce heat to medium and cook for a few minutes. Once things smooth out you can switch to a wooden spoon for the remainder of the stirring.

Cooking the mixture over medium heat, add the remaining cornmeal as before, sprinkling it spoonful by spoonful as you continue to stir. It is essential to keep stirring. The nsima should be very thick (no liquid remaining) and smooth (no lumps). It may reach this point before all of the remaining cornmeal is added to the pot – or it may be necessary to add even more cornmeal than this recipe indicates. Once the desired consistency is reached, turn off heat, cover the pot and allow the nsima to stand for a few minutes before serving. Serve nsima immediately while hot, with the ndiwo of your choice. With clean hands, tear bits of nsima off and use them to scoop up the ndiwo.

Recipe curator’s note: Nsima has become the staple food of Malawi, much like bread, rice, pasta or potatoes are in other cultures. Nsima is thick starchy porridge made from corn, cassava or other starch flour. The nsima porridge is formed into hamburger-size patties by scooping the porridge with a wet wooden spoon and flipping it onto a plate. The patty congeals in contact with the cool wet spoon and plate. Marble size pieces are broken off and rolled into a ball in the palm of the hand with the fingers. A final dimple is pressed into one side of it. It is then dipped in ndiwo (the sauce of vegetables or meat).


Notes and Instructions



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