DestinationsFood & Drink

5 Amazing Things to Eat in eSwatini (Swaziland)

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MTN Bush Fire is coming up and we thought, while you’re shaking your tailfeather during one of Africa’ largest music festivals, why not indulge your taste buds with this quick list of food to try!

If you didn’t know already, eSwatini (formerly Swaziland) is a small nation found within South Africa and next door to Mozambique. Because of this, its cuisine is highly influenced by both nations – but don’t worry – this list is diving into the genuine traditional Swati meals.

Umncweba and umkhunsu

For those who know of South African biltong, umncweba will seem familiar. This is dried, uncooked meat (made with various types of meat) that’s often marinated in vinegar and spices and eaten as a snack. Umkhunsu is similar to umncweba, but the meat has been cooked before being dried.

Mealie on the Cob

No matter what you call it, be it mealie, corn or maize on the cob is another popular snack in eSwatini (and in Southern Africa), which you’ll find sold at markets and by street vendors. As well as roasted corn, you might see ‘tinkhobe’ which is boiled whole corn on the cob. Eat it before a main meal, or after – it’s a great treat roasted or boiled.

Tjwala (umqombotsi)

Traditional home-brewed beer made from maize meal (umqombotsi) is called ‘Tjwala’ in the siSwati language. It is usually easier to find in more rural areas (you won’t find it in bars), and it packs quite a punch – expect to feel tipsy after just one glass. If that’s too adventurous, try a bottle of the country’s local lager, Sibebe. Named after eSwatini’s famous mountain, ‘Execution Rock’ or ‘Sibebe Rock’, it is brewed in Matsapha.

Emahewu

Emahewu is a meal drink made from fermented thin, watery porridge. To make it, thoroughly mix one kilo of maize meal with five litres of water, cook until it turns into a thin porridge, cool to room temperature and then leave to ferment from two to six days. To speed up the process, you can add malt after the mixture has cooled.

Braai

While many traditional meals in eSwatini are based around porridge and vegetables, you’ll see a true favourite in Southern Africa influence is braais (barbecues). Slow cooked over hot coals, expect large, hearty portions and, if you can’t decide which type of meat you fancy eating, it’s often possible to order a mixed platter of steak, wors (sausages), chicken wings and pork chops!

Miriro Matema
the authorMiriro Matema
Born in Zimbabwe and living in South Africa, Miriro is a seasoned publishing editor and writer, having worked with leading brands in investment, business leadership and entrepreneurship. Passionate about Africa’s development, Miriro is also a dynamic marketing consultant with 10 years experience working with startups and large multinational corporations. With a heart for travel, Miriro spends her time discovering the nooks of crannies of Africa’s hidden gems, taking the roads less travelled, meeting the beautiful people that call Africa home while exploring their food and culture. Miriro is currently a writer with Byolife Travel and Gallivant Africa