This recipe from the Kasai area of Zaire is one version of what is called “nsima” in Malawi and Zambia, “ugali” in Kenya and Tanzania, “oshi-fima” in Namibia, and “mealie-meal” or “putu” among English or Zulu-speaking South Africans. It may be made with just water instead of milk, or with equal parts tapioca flour and cornmeal instead of with cornmeal alone.


1 cups white cornmeal

1 cup milk


Heat a cup of water to boiling in a medium-size saucepan. Meanwhile, in a bowl or measuring cup, gradually add cup of the cornmeal to the milk, stirring briskly to make a smooth paste. Add the mixture to the boiling water, continuing to stir constantly. Cook for 4 or 5 minutes while adding the remaining cornmeal. When the mixture begins to pull away from the sides of the pot and stick together, remove from heat.

Dump bidia into a bowl. Then, with damp hands, shape it into a smooth ball, flipping it so that the rounded sides of the bowl help to smooth it. Serve immediately.

To eat in the traditional manner, tear off a small chunk and make an indentation in it with your thumb. Use this hollow as a “bowl” to scoop up sauces and stews.

Variations : For a less conventional, but delicious porridge, dump half a cup of yellow cornmeal into a cup or more of boiling water. It will form lumps, but if you stir and mash vigorously with a strong wire whisk, the lumps will disappear. Add more cornmeal as necessary until you have a consistency similar to cream of wheat. Cook for 3 or 4 minutes, stirring constantly. Serve hot.


Serves 4 - 6.


country : Zaire

course : side dish


source : The Africa News Cookbook : African Cooking for Western Kitchens / edited by Tami Hultman