Mopane stew (Mashonzha)

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  • 1 cup dried mopane worms
  • 2 cups hot water
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 3 T oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1 T curry powder
  • 2 medium tomatoes, peeled and diced
  • 1 T brown onion soup powder
  • ½ cup water
  • salt to taste

1. Soak the dried mopane worms in hot water for about 2 hours. Remove from the water and place in a medium saucepan. Cover the mopane worms with the boiling water and cook gently for 20 minutes. Rinse and keep warm.

2. Heat the oil in a pan and fry the onion, garlic and curry powder until the onion is soft.

3. Add the tomatoes and cook for 5 minutes.

4. Mix the soup powder with the water and add to the stew.

5. Add the mopane worms and stir to mix. Simmer for about 10 minutes.

6. Serve over vhuswa or makaku (soft pap) and mukusule (dried morogo).

Variation: Replace the tomato and onion sauce with peanut sauce to make dofhi.

25 ml ground peanuts
250 ml water

In a small saucepan, simmer the ground peanuts in the water for 15 minutes, until creamy. Add the peanut sauce to the parboiled mopane worms, stir through and season with salt and cayenne pepper to taste. Heat through for about 10 minutes; add a bit of water if you desire a thinner sauce

Cook's note: Mopane worms are actually the caterpillar of a species of emperor moth. They are found in the warmer parts of Southern Africa, and they feed predominantly on mopane tree leaves. Succulent, with an earthy nutty taste, this delicacy can be enjoyed dry on its own as a snack or cooked in a stew. They pack a serious nutritional punch!

Find more South African recipes here.

This recipe is an extract from Dorah Sitole – 40 Years of Iconic Food, published by Human & Rousseau and retailing for R380 at all good book stores.

Read our conversation with Dorah Sitole here.

Dorah Sitole

Recipe by: Dorah Sitole

Dorah Sitole needs no introduction. With an immense career spanning 40 years in the food industry, she has paved the way for young food writers, specifically food writers of colour, to thrive in South Africa.

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