Traditional Zimbabwe Lunch & Dinner Recipes from My Childhood

by Sandy Salle on November 8, 2012

As you might have already read in one of our blog posts last month, Hills of Africa is working diligently on a beautiful cookbook, featuring recipes from some of southern and eastern Africa’s most esteemed and celebrated properties. The book holds a very special place in my heart because I grew up in Zimbabwe with most of the traditional African recipes featured in the book. Working on the book allows me to transport myself back to my beautiful childhood on a farm in Chimanimani—an area located on the boarder of Zimbabwe and Mozambique.

Once the book is published, I hope to share it with all of you to give you a little taste of African cuisine and culture.

A few weeks ago, I featured some of my favorite dessert recipes from growing up. For today’s blog post, I’m featuring some of my favorite savory dinner and lunch recipes.

See below for the recipes:

Rice Salad

My side note: This is a wonderful side dish for a braai or barbecue.

African cuisine

Serves 6

  • 3 cups brown rice
  • ¼ cup whole lentils
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 8 cups water
  • 6 tablespoons white vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons curry powder
  • 6 tablespoons brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • ½ cup oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ red pepper, diced
  • ½ green pepper, diced
  • 1 large red onion, diced


1. Rinse rice and lentils with water and place in large pot.

2. Cover with water and bring to a boil. Gently boil for approximately 30 minutes until rice is cooked (it should look split and curly).

3. Drain rice and lentils through a colander. Set aside to cool.

4. Mix vinegar, curry powder, brown sugar, turmeric, soy sauce, oil, and salt together in a Quick Shake or other container with a tightly fitting lid.

5. Pour over rice and lentils and add red and green peppers and onions. Toss well.

6. Serve at room temperature.

Delicious Chicken!

My side note: This recipe was given to me by my beautiful sister-in-law Edz. It has become our family’s favorite dinner—by far! We like to serve it with a crisp green salad and garlic bread.

Zimbabwe cuisine

Serves 6

  • 12 chicken portions
  • 2 teaspoons curry powder
  • ½ cup ketchup
  • ½ cup smooth apricot jam
  • ¼ cup worcestershire sauce
  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard powder (optional)
  • 1 packet brown onion/mushroom soup
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 4 cups water


1. Preheat oven to 375°F.

2. Place chicken portions in a large baking dish.

3. In a bowl, combine remaining ingredients and mix well.

4. Pour sauce over chicken and bake for 1¼ hours, until sauce is thick and chicken pieces caramelized.


My side note: My husband loves his spicy food, and chakalaka is very spicy. It is a traditional spicy tomato, pepper, and onion relish that is normally served with sadza, bread, stews, or curries. You can serve it hot or cold. We like to serve it as an accompaniment to most meals to add a bit of spice.

Zimbabwe recipes

Serves 4–6

*Keeps for 7 days in the refrigerator

  • 3 tablespoons oil
  • 2 onions, finely diced
  • 2 bell peppers, finely diced
  • 2–3 hot chili peppers (such as jalapeño), minced
  • 2 or 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 teaspoons curry powder
  • 3 tomatoes, diced
  • Salt and pepper to taste


1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onions, bell peppers, chili peppers, garlic, and curry powder. Sauté, stirring frequently, until the onions and peppers are cooked down and wilted, about 4 to 5 minutes.

2. Stir in the tomatoes and bring to a boil. Add salt and pepper to taste. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for about 5 minutes.

3. Serve with your favorite meal.

Love these recipes? Click here to share them on Pinterest!


{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Lydia December 8, 2012 at 4:16 pm

Hey sandy great recipes.cant wait to try the chicken recipe.lam from zimbabwe and glad they are more people out there who want to share zim cuisine with the can also have a look at my blog

Sandy Salle December 11, 2012 at 9:49 am

Lydia, thank you SO much for your compliments and for sharing your blog with us! I love the recipes you’ve featured on it!

Judy Wilson May 19, 2016 at 2:57 pm

I’ve always been interested in traditional cuisine from Zimbabwe, so it would be exciting to try a few of these recipes. I’m most excited to try the chakalaka recipe. I also like spicy food, so eating a dish made from spicy tomato, pepper, onion relish in a stew would be delicious. Thanks for sharing this recipe!

Julie Cherry November 17, 2016 at 11:00 am

Thank you for sharing these recipes. My daughter is dating a guy from Zimbabwe and he will be joining us for Thanksgiving. I am going to give a try at sadaza and top it with Chakalaka. Wish me luck!

Sandy Salle November 22, 2016 at 9:31 am

I am so happy you are trying it for Thanksgiving, Julie. Enjoy. Share a photo if you have time. Blessings to you.

Prisca September 9, 2017 at 10:43 am

Hi Sandy
I am so happy to find your recipes. I am a Nigerian who is married to a Zimbabwean man.He loves my cooking,but I would like to make his home mail for him.
Thank you so much,

Sandy Salle May 30, 2018 at 12:55 pm

Thank you for your comment and so glad it reminded you of your childhood favorite foods!

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