Mozambique is Southern Africa’s answer to tropical paradise: with gorgeous beaches, turquoise sea, beautiful islands and a palm-fringed coastline, it’s the stuff travel brochures are made of.
Many African countries are not known for their gourmet offerings, but Mozambique is one of the exceptions. Five hundred years of Portuguese influence, tropical fruit and plentiful fish and seafood mean that Mozambique is a foodie’s heaven.
Here are some dishes (and drinks) you should try on your next trip:
All the seafood you’ll eat in Mozambique is delicious, but prawns are definitely the highlight: juicy and flavourful, they’re served grilled or fried, with French fries or rice. Prawns in Mozambique are juicy and delicious. They’re served grilled on the barbecue or fried and are slathered in either fiery peri peri sauce or lashings of garlic.
This tasty traditional dish is not something you’ll always find on the menu at tourist restaurants – you’re more likely to get it if you end up staying with locals. It’s made from stewed cassava leaves (similar to spinach), ground peanuts, garlic and coconut milk. It’s either eaten on its own or with rice and prawns.
Found in any Mozambican market, paõ (pronounced pow) are Portuguese white bread rolls baked in wood-fired ovens in villages.
4. Peri peri chicken
You’ll find peri peri chicken all over Mozambique, as well as further north in Tanzania and west in Angola (another southern African country colonised by the Portuguese). The dish consists of chicken marinated in lemon juice, garlic and a healthy douse of peri peri sauce, usually eaten with French fries.
5. Prego roll
There’s nothing better for a roadside snack in Mozambique than a lip-smacking prego roll: a steak covered in peri peri sauce (a fiery red sauce made with chillies, garlic and vinegar) in paõ. Simple and delicious!
Mozambique was once the world’s largest producer of cashews, and even though they’re not being farmed on such a wide scale anymore, there are nuts trees growing all over the place. You’ll see people selling bags of cashews on the side of the road for peanuts (excuse the pun) and on the beach. While plain cashews are great, the roasted peri peri ones are even more tasty.
Buy fresh fish right off the boats on the beach all along the coast in Mozambique. It’s best to grill fish on a barbecue and eat it on the beach if possible – the ultimate seaside meal!
8. Tropical fruit
With Mozambique’s warm, humid climate, delicious tropical fruit grows everywhere. There are papayas, coconuts, avocados and my favourite – small, sweet mangoes. Buy fruit at village markets or on the side of the road – a big bucket of about forty mangoes goes for around 5MTs (15 US cents).
Laurentina is a great Mozambican beer, by my favourite is 2M (pronounced doish-em). There’s nothing like a few of these drunk at sunset after a perfect day on the beach.
10. Tipo Tinto
If you’re backpacking in Mozambique, you’re likely to suffer more than a few headaches from Tipo Tinto, the national rum. Don’t try and drink this neat! It’s best with a mixer – the local favourite is a berry-flavoured soda called Sparberry.