Nsima (corn meal) with Chicken Curry

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By Our Food Correspondent

One of the favourite dishes in southern Africa particularly countries like Zambia and Malawi is Chicken Curry with Nsima. Nsima is made from maize flour as a carbohydrate that is served with any relish whether it be meat and or vegetables. Recommendation is to serve with both for a balanced dietary requirement. How do you cook such a combined dish?

Ingredients to be sought

For Chicken Curry

  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
  • medium white onions, sliced into 1/4-inch half-moons
  • celery stalks, sliced 1/4-inch thick
  • garlic cloves, minced
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • large carrots, sliced in 1/4-inch rounds
  • (12-ounce) can tomato paste
  • (28-ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup white distilled vinegar
  • lemon, juiced
  • 1/4 cup yellow curry powder
  • 5 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken pieces
  • 1 pinch granulated sugar (optional)

Ingredients for Nsima

  • 2 cups ufa (fine-ground white cornmeal)
  • 1/2 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter or margarine (optional)
Directions for Cooking the Chicken Curry
  1. In a very large soup pot or Dutch oven, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil over medium heat. Add onions, celery, and garlic and season with a pinch each of salt and pepper. Cook for 4 minutes, or until vegetables are translucent, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon.
  2. Add the 1 remaining tablespoon of oil and the carrots and tomato paste. Fry about 1 to 2 minutes, then add the whole peeled tomatoes, using a wooden spoon to break them up in the pot to 1/2-inch pieces. Add vinegar, lemon juice, and curry powder and mix together.
  3. Add the chicken pieces and season generously with salt and pepper; stir together with the tomatoey vegetables. Pour enough water in the pot to cover the chicken (you may need to add more as the stew reduces). Bring to a simmer, reduce heat to a low, and cover. It takes at least 1 to 1 1/2 hours for the chicken to become fully tender, but it can also stay on the stove all day. The longer it simmers, the stronger the flavors and the more tender the chicken will be.
  4. Taste and season with more salt and pepper as needed, and a pinch of sugar. Serve over nsima or cooked rice.

How to Cook the Nsima?

  1. In a saucepan, heat the water until lukewarm. Slowly mix in the cornmeal while stirring, avoiding lumps. Bring to a boil while stirring continuously. Lower heat and let the porridge gently ripple for 2 minutes; the mixture should look like thin transparent porridge. Continue stirring until the mixture is smooth and cooked through.
  2. If desired, the butter or margarine can be added at this point. Nsima can be served in a dish or scooped onto a plate as patties. Accompany with meat, fish, or vegetables.

Source for recipe: Food52