Exploring Mozambique

With over 1.6 million people, the capital of Mozambique, Maputo, is a large and bustling capital. Because it lies close to South Africa, the city acts as the main center for industry and business.

Farm plots are called “machambas,” and many fishermen go out in small boats or dhows either from the many small ports along Mozambique’s coastline or on the country’s rivers and lakes, continuing to fish using traditional methods. Though some commercial fishing takes place, especially for Mozambique’s key export of prawns, traditional fishing accounts for around 85% of domestic catches.

Matapa is a common sauce in this country’s cooking. The sauce is made from cassava leaves or other greens, ground peanuts or coconut, and sometimes with shrimp. The staple food for many Mozambicans is ncima, a thick porridge made from maize or corn flour. Cassava and rice are also eaten as staple carbohydrates. All of these are served with sauces of vegetables, meat, beans, or fish. Now, who could resist a delicious dish of prawns served with matapa sauce alongside a serving of ncima? Chicken is also a favorite meat, served grilled or with seasonings and spices, most popularly with piri-piri – a spicy chili sauce made with chili, of course, garlic, and lemon juice. Is your mouth watering?

To satisfy a sweet tooth, delicious fruits abound. Travelers can buy buckets full of mangoes, avocados, papayas, and coconuts at roadside stops. And don’t forget the cashew nuts! Although no longer one of the world’s largest producers of cashews, visitors can find bags of them along roadside stops as well.

And speaking of roadside snacks, travelers should be sure to try a Prego roll. This is a simple dish of steak topped with piri-piri sauce. Try it with pao, readily found in markets, these are tasty white bread rolls, from Portuguese heritage, often baked in wood-fired ovens.

A number of successful national beer brands are enjoyed by Mozambicans. Local brews (pombe) are also popular. These are made from maize, sugar cane, mangos, cassavas, and cashew fruits. Palm wine (sura) is also popular in southern areas. Tipo Tinto, is the country’s national rum, but do mix it with something, because it packs a powerful punch. Soft drinks tend to be globally recognized choices, such as Coca Cola. A comforting way to round out a day of happy eating.