Makes about ¾ cup
Nsima has become the “staple” food of Malawi, much like bread, rice, pasta, or potatoes are in other cultures. Nsima is thick, starchy porridge made from corn, cassava, or other starch flour. (For example, the corn flours in Malawi are ufa woyera and ufa ngaiwa. Ufa woyera is maize flour, which has had the outer kernel shell and seed germ pounded off, leaving just the starchy part of the seed. Ufa ngaiwa is the whole corn kernel.) The nsima porridge is formed into hamburger-size patties by scooping the porridge with a wet wooden spoon and flipping it onto a plate. The patty congeals in contact with the cool wet spoon and plate. Marble size pieces are broken off and rolled into a ball in the palm of the hand with the fingers. A final dimple is pressed into one side of it. It is then dipped in ndiwo (the sauce of vegetables or meat).
4 to 6 cups cornmeal, corn flour, or ground maize (1 cup per serving is sufficient)
1. Pour cold water (two and 1/2 cups for each cup of cornmeal) into a large pot. Over high heat, begin to bring to a boil.
2. After a few minutes, when the water is warm but not yet boiling, slowly add about half the cornmeal to the water, one spoonful at a time, stirring continuously with a sturdy wooden spoon. Continue cooking (and stirring) until the mixture begins to boil and bubble. Reduce heat to medium and cook for a few minutes.
3. Cooking the mixture over medium heat, add the remaining cornmeal, as before, sprinkling it spoonful by spoonful as you continue to stir. It is essential to keep stirring; if making a large quantity, it may take one person to hold the pot and another to use two hands to stir the thick mixture. The nshima should be very thick (no liquid remaining) and smooth (no lumps). It may reach this point before all of the remaining cornmeal is added to the pot. Or it may be necessary to add even more cornmeal than this recipe indicates. Once the desired consistency is reached, turn off heat, cover the pot, and allow the nshima to stand for a few minutes before serving. Then serve nshima immediately, hot, with the ndiwo of your choice. With clean hands, tear bits of nshima off and use them to scoop up the ndiwo.