Dumplings/Madombi from Botswana

I have started including African recipes in my blog, the first I did was Tanzanian Pilau and for this next recipe we’re travelling to my current home, Botswana! Botswana has lovely cuisine, the most intriguing being Mmopane worms which ashamedly so I haven’t got the guts to try.


However, though it is really simple, my favorite food here is dumplings or madombi. I can’t get enough of them!!! It’s basically a bread that you eat with a stew and vegetables of your choice. In my 4 years of University, my favorite meal at the cafeteria consisted of 2 giant madombi, chicken stew, squash and cabbage. I made sure I never missed that meal!

Over the Christmas holidays my mother taught me how to make them and they are super easy! Total time spent making them including preparation time is just under an hour. 30 minutes of that is spent waiting for the dough to rise, 20 minutes of cooking time and the remaining 5-10 minutes is where you actually need to do something.

There are of course many different variations in terms of ingredients and cooking methods however this simple recipe is the one that was passed on to my mother.

Ingredients (Makes 4 big dumplings)

  • 500g flour (I used cake flour however I’m sure bread flour is fine too)
  • Half a packet of yeast
  • About a cup or so of lukewarm water
  • Extra flour for kneeding


  1. Sift  the flour and yeast into a bowl. ???????????????????????????????
  2. Gradually add water and combine with your hands to form a dough. Only add enough water to form the dough.???????????????????????????????
  3. Kneed the dough for about 5 minutes till it’s soft and pliable.
  4. Put aside in a bowl covered with a damp cloth and leave to rise for 30 minutes.
  5. Separate dough into 4 equal size pieces and kneed into balls.???????????????????????????????
  6. In a large pot (ideally a non stick one), put a little oil and one cup of water and bring to boil.
  7. Add the dumplings making sure they don’t touch each other. ???????????????????????????????
  8. Cover the pot and let them cook on medium to low heat for 20 minutes. Check water level regularly, if the water evaporates before the 20 minutes elapses, add another half cup.???????????????????????????????
  9. Remove and serve warm with a stew and veggies.
My first batch of dumplings made with mum's help
My first batch of dumplings made with mum’s help

???????????????????????????????We had ours with chicken liver stew and spinach, to die for! Beware, this meal is VERY filling, eat when extremely hungry! If you’d like a more challenging recipe, try this dumplings/madombi recipe by Idah on Cooking.com.


23 Comments Add yours

  1. I’m gonna make this for the sigoth who’s hardly had any African food.

    1. Ms Z. says:

      Great one to start with cz it’s easy! lol. I’m tryna learn how to make chicken seswaa, had it the other day and I loved it! It’s sweeter than the beef one.

  2. Thato says:

    will try and cook madombi like this.. using the cake flour. Im sure its more fluffier..

    1. Ms Z. says:

      Much more fluffier. I tried them with bread flour and it just wasn’t the same 😦

  3. Nkamo says:

    I tried these dumplings, they are simple and delicious

    1. Brandy says:

      Glad you liked them!! I think I will make some for myself soon.

  4. Theo says:

    Wow, thank you so much for the recipe, I’m from Botswana and my mum used to make these every Sunday when I was a kid, been living in England for two years and today I was feeling a little homesick and made dumplings for the first time. Heavenly

  5. Allyssa says:

    I’ve periodically tried to find this recipe since I visited Gaborone in 2007. Madombi is addictive! I’m so glad I finally came across a recipe – it’s been so hard to find; I can’t believe I missed this post. Thank you so much!

    1. Brandy says:

      You’re welcome!!! And yes madonbi is soooo addictive!!! I love them!

  6. nkamo says:

    i goin to try how to cook madombi

    1. Brandy says:

      I hope it turns out well!

  7. Carringtonm says:

    Thanks now I know how to make this, all the way from Canada

    1. Brandy says:

      You’re welcome! 🙂

  8. Should I put them in the pot when the water is boiling or warm

    1. Brandy says:

      You put them in when the water is warm.

  9. Keitumetse says:

    is it okay to mix butter with water to make madombi

    1. Brandy says:

      I am not sure, I’ve never tried it or seen a recipe with butter in it. I guess you can give a try and see how it turns out.

  10. Mogau says:

    Hun! I’m trying this right now, preparing a meal for my family as I’ve been away from home, I’m trying it with chicken livers,spinach and butternut with cinnamon.
    You’ve also inspired me to start my own blog;-) . thanks a ton

    1. Brandy says:

      That’s wonderful! I’d love to follow your blog, please send the link 🙂

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