Culture and Traditions of Botswana | Local Cuisine

Botswana food.A tapestry of aromas and colors to assail the senses
Learn about the culture of Botswana and try their national dish Seswaa, a tasty dish of meat and thick maize porridge.

By Michael English

One of the greatest experiences while on safari is learning about another culture. A good way to do this is through trying the traditional cuisine of a country. Many national dishes in Africa are based on meat and maize and Botswana's national dish is no different. Of course there are a wide variety of cuisines available in Botswana from Italian to Chinese and many local people eat these dishes, but most of them will admit to cooking traditional dishes the most.The main meal is generally eaten at lunchtime traditionally, and leftovers or bread and tea are eaten at dinner. Many tourists only eat relatively upmarket cuisine at lodges or else self cater if they are doing a self drive safari.The national dish of Botswana is called Seswaa. This consists of a meat stew served over thick polenta or pap. The stew is made by boiling meat with onion and pepper. Adding anything else is considered an infringement.Once the meat has cooked for two hours it is shredded and pounded with salt to add flavour. This is then served on top of the thick maize meal. It is often served with a leafy green which is called Morogo. This food comes from a country where many of the population were poor and meat was considered something of a luxury. The dish is quite bland and should suit unadventurous eaters.Goat meat which is often stewed is the second most popular meat after Beef. Chicken is also popular and many households will raise their own. For breakfast maize or sorghum porridge is popular. This is called Bogobe. It is made by pouring sorghum or millet flour into boiling water and cooking it till it becomes a soft paste. Sometimes this dish is eaten without milk and sugar with meat and vegetables for dinner.Barbecue. Ian MichlerBarbeques are also popular and people will often have one to mark a special occasion. The Afrikaans community introduced dishes such as Vetkoek, (left) a deep fried dough, that is a bit like an un-sweetened doughnut which is cut in half and filled with curried mince.
Pulse based dishes are also popular as many kinds of beans and peas are grown in the country such as cow peas and "ditloo", an African legume.

Offal dishes such as Oxtail are very popular in Botswana as well. It is often served during festive occasions, though as the population has become wealthier it has become a regular meal. Rice based dishes are also becoming popular, but these are more associated with the European cultures in Botswana.

Preparing mopani worms. Ian MichlerOf course there are also traditional foods that are a bit "out there", such as Mopane worms. These are beautiful multi coloured caterpillars that are a local delicacy.
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