Mozambique has a rich culinary landscape with an abundance of agricultural produce and fresh seafood. There are strong Portuguese and Arab influences at play in the cooking, and there’s so much good food on offer that a single list wouldn’t be able to cover it all. Discover some of the best dishes with Culture Trip’s round-up.
Whether you find yourself on the bustling streets of the capital Maputo or sunning yourself on a beach, you’ll need to keep an eye out for these dishes for a true flavour of Mozambique.
Xima (pronounced shima) is the backbone of Mozambican cooking. This staple, which is popular all over Africa, is a sort of porridge made with corn flour. White in colour and with a mild flavour, it’s an excellent accompaniment for vegetable stews or meaty dishes. Its stiff texture makes it easy to pick up with your hands and the perfect vessel for scooping up the sauce.
Piri-piri is a famously Mozambican chilli sauce and marinade used for cooking and as an everyday table condiment. As it’s also the name for the chilli itself, it’s no surprise that this sauce is packed with spicy Mozambican chillies and usually mixed with garlic, onions and oil. There are so many variations of piri-piri that you’re likely to find at least two kinds on most dining tables. As a marinade, it is commonly used for grilling chicken and prawns. Nando’s, the global chicken franchise, has built its entire brand based on this Mozambican sauce, so it’s worth trying it at the source.
Fresh Bread (Pão)
Another staple in Mozambican cuisine is bread, and most neighbourhoods will have a small local bakery where people can buy fresh bread daily. It’s still a more common choice than the mass-produced bread in supermarkets. The standard roll in Mozambique is fluffy on the inside and has a slight crisp on the outside – it’s typically eaten (still warm if you can) with butter.
Feijoada is a hearty bean stew, cooked with beef, pork or both. It has a base of tomato and onion and is simmered until it has a silky texture. Usually, it’s cooked with ham hock, chouriço sausage and sometimes trotters and feet, tripe (also known as dobrada) and other offal. These ingredients give it richness from the fat and gelatine, and a strong meaty flavour. There are seafood variations of it as well, which include clams, calamari and prawns. It can be eaten with rice or xima and is a favourite for Sunday lunch, permitting enough time to digest before sleeping.
Mucapata is a starchy side dish that is something between grits and xima. Comprising mung beans, coconut milk and rice, this smashed combination of ingredients makes a tasty accompaniment to a curry or stew. Mucapata originates from Quelimane, but it’s loved all over.
Galinha asada is flame-grilled chicken usually marinated in piri-piri. However, another very popular version is galinha à Zambeziana – prepared with coconut milk and from the Zambezia region in Northern Mozambique. The taste of coconut is subtle but delicious and is a great pairing with the charcoal flavour of the grilled chicken.
Matapa is made with cassava leaves, which are first pounded and then cooked with onion, garlic and coconut milk. Cassava leaves are eaten in other African countries, especially those neighbouring Mozambique. There are various recipes for matapa all over the country, which include cooking it with peanuts, beans and seafood, such as crab and prawns. It is usually eaten with rice or xima and is widely popular.
Green mango achar
This punchy pickle is made with unripe mangoes that are still green. The mangoes are cut and preserved in oil, piri-piri and spices, such as mustard and fennel seeds. The longer you leave it, the more pungent and spicier it becomes. Adding a little bit to your meal will elevate the flavour to a whole other level, and it can be eaten with all sorts of curries and stews. There are various kinds of achar, but the mango one is the most popular.
Mozambique has plentiful fresh seafood, from stonefish and clams to lobster and crabs. The most popular of all are prawns, which are available in all sizes and used in many dishes. Although a more expensive delicacy in other parts of the world, where they’re often found on menus, prawns in Mozambique are affordable and commonly eaten. A typical style of preparation is to grill them with piri-piri or make a prawn curry with coconut milk. Both are delicious and must-try dishes.
Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip
meet our Local Insider
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A GUIDE?
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR JOB?
It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.
WHAT DESTINATION IS ON YOUR TRAVEL BUCKET-LIST?
I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!
Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.
KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?
Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world
Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.