Food from home: Cassava,Baobab Fruit and Rice

My parents recently went home (home being Malawi) to visit the relatives and such and brought me back some goodies from home. I usually never ask for something from home, they’ve been there twice before and both times I wasn’t really concerned with what they could bring me. However this time I did crave Baobab fruit, or as we call it; Malambe. It is not as readily found here in Botswana (personally I’ve never seen it in the streets or in stores) however they do have Baobab trees here so I’m sure it is being eaten somewhere.

A container full of Malambe fruits

The fruit usually comes as a pod with the funny shaped white pulp coated seeds you see in the picture above.

My lovely aunt was nice enough to crack the pod and extract the seeds for me. To eat it you suck on the seeds till the white pulp is completely dissolved then you spit out the seed. The taste is hard to describe….you’d just have to try it on your own. It is also definitely an acquired taste! I gave a couple of my friends some and most of them just looked confused. The White pulp that is sucked is a great source of vitamin C.

In addition to Malambe my mum also brought me Cassava! Oh how I love Cassava! Something I have never found here in Botswana too. It is similar to potatoes or sweet potato so you can do to it everything you do to potatoes although the taste is quite different. The taste ranges from slightly sweet to bitter depending on where and how it was grown. Cassava can be boiled,boiled and fried, dried, made into a flour, or sliced and used to make chips similar to potato chips. The bitter taste in Cassava is due to the  cyanogenic glucosides in it which are toxic so it’s not advisable to eat it raw as it can cause acute cyanide intoxication and goiters, and has been linked to ataxia or partial paralysis.

I had my Cassava boiled and fried and just plain boiled. I ate the plain boiled Cassava with a beef stew (that had potatoes) and the fried Cassava with boiled Squash, fried fish and salad.

Cassava and stew

Lastly my mummy brought me some Malawian rice. That may not sound like a big deal but Botswana does not produce rice of its own so people here mainly eat Tastic Rice (Tastic is a brand). Regular Tastic rice has an odd flavor, at least in my opinion and therefore I don’t like it at all. It has a strange odor and tastes very bland and plain. I use a great deal of tomato sauce and stew to mask the strange taste. Unlike Malawi rice I can’t eat it with milk and sugar alone or make a porridge out of it because it just tastes too weird to me. As an alternative I prefer to buy the Tastic rices of the world range which are closer in taste to Malawian rice. The range includes Basmati, Jasmin, Sushi, Risoto and Bonnet rice, however they are quite pricey. So it is quite a treat to have Malawian rice.

Kilombero Rice from Malawi

I have already used it to make fried rice and will probably make rice porridge with it one of these days.

What foods do you miss most when you are away from home? Leave a comment below and let me know 🙂


4 Comments Add yours

  1. Mma-Mowana says:

    OMG! I love Baobab fruit! I am a Motswana from Botswana. Growing up, back in my home village there was a yard that had the Baobab tree(Mowana in Setswanna). I loved it so much that every time we went to visit the people at the yard that had the tree, the ladies there were kind enough to guarantee that I left with a couple of Mowana with me. 🙂 Inevitably, I became known as Mma-Mowana (Miss-Baobab). I dont like it as much as i used to but the old lady there still makes a point of giving some to my dad to pass on to me. lol.

    1. Ms Z. says:

      Lol! Thats nice of them. I rarely see it as a pod here in Botswana but I have bought the mowana sweets at the filling stations before. Such a lovely fruit! 🙂

  2. mimi says:

    Wow we really are one people we call baobab fruit Mabuyu and here it is slighty steamed and coated with food colour and sugar. I love cassava boiled in coconut milk very tasty just boil with water first and then drain when it is almost done and finish off with coconut milk. We used to have it fried grated into crisps or just plain fried with chilli powder and a tamarind sauce in Mombasa Kenya

    1. Ms Z. says:

      I should really visit Kenya then! You guys always do a little extra to make the food unique. I would love to try cassava with coconut milk. And I have a bottle of tamarind sauce in the fridge that I don’t know what to do with beyond making Thai noodles.

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