Matemba Recipe - Exploring the Flavors of Malawian Fish Delicacy

Dish recipes: Matemba

Matemba is a traditional dish from Malawi that celebrates the abundant freshwater fish found in the country's lakes and rivers. This flavorful and aromatic dish showcases the vibrant culinary heritage of Malawian cuisine. Matemba, also known as dried fish, is a staple food and a favorite snack among locals. In this article, we will share an authentic Matemba recipe, taking you on a culinary journey to savor the unique flavors of Malawi.


500 grams dried fish (such as tilapia or bream)

2 large onions, thinly sliced

2 tomatoes, diced

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1 teaspoon ground paprika

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon ground coriander

Salt (to taste)

Freshly ground black pepper (to taste)

Freshly squeezed lemon juice (optional, for serving)

Step 1: Rehydrate the dried fish

Place the dried fish in a large bowl and cover it with cold water. Allow the fish to soak for at least 1 hour or until it softens. Change the water a few times during the soaking process to remove excess saltiness.

Step 2: Prepare the fish

Drain the soaked fish and pat it dry with paper towels. Remove any bones, if desired, and break the fish into smaller pieces.

Step 3: Sauté the onions and garlic

Heat the vegetable oil in a large pan or skillet over medium heat. Add the thinly sliced onions and minced garlic, and sauté until they become soft and translucent.

Step 4: Add the tomatoes and spices

Add the diced tomatoes to the pan and stir them into the onions and garlic. Sprinkle in the ground paprika, ground cumin, and ground coriander. Stir well to combine the flavors.

Step 5: Cook the fish

Carefully place the dried fish pieces into the pan with the onion and tomato mixture. Gently stir to coat the fish with the spices. Cover the pan and let the fish cook over low heat for about 15-20 minutes, allowing the flavors to meld together. Stir occasionally to prevent sticking.

Step 6: Season and serve

Taste the Matemba and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper according to your preference. Stir well to incorporate the flavors. Optionally, squeeze fresh lemon juice over the dish just before serving for a tangy kick.

Step 7: Serve hot or cold

Matemba can be served hot or cold. It is often enjoyed as a main dish alongside nsima (a staple maize porridge) or rice. Alternatively, it can be served as a snack or appetizer. The choice is yours!

Optional: Variations and Serving Suggestions

For added heat, you can include chopped chili peppers or a sprinkle of cayenne pepper. Matemba pairs well with a side of vegetables or a fresh salad for a balanced meal. Garnish the dish with chopped fresh cilantro or parsley for a pop of color and freshness.

With this authentic Matemba recipe, you can experience the distinctive flavors of Malawian cuisine and indulge in the delights of dried fish. This simple yet flavorful dish celebrates the abundance of freshwater fish in Malawi, providing a taste of the country's rich culinary heritage. Whether you're seeking an authentic Malawian experience or simply intrigued by new flavors, Matemba is a dish that will transport you to the shores of Lake Malawi. Enjoy the unique taste and savor the cultural essence of Malawi through this beloved fish delicacy!