Mozambique: Menus & Recipes from Africa




The islands of Sao Tome and Principe, Cape Verde, and the territories of Portuguese Guinea on the northwest coast of Africa, Angola on the south- west coast, and Mozambique on the southeast are provinces of Portugal. There is great similarity in their foods. Cornmeal, millet, rice, and hot stews, so common in the African diet, are mainstays in all these regions. Our book would be incomplete without some of the outstanding and unusual dishes of Portuguese Africa.

The Portuguese influence is much in evidence, particularly in the use of wine. One such dish is Matata: clams cooked in port wine with finely chopped peanuts and tender young greens or fruits. A favorite dish of the interior is Frango a Calrial which means "Chicken, the African way." Chickens heavily rubbed down with Piri-piri are roasted over charcoals. They are so peppery that it would be impossible for us to eat them. We have included a modified version of this most interesting dish on page 74. There is also "Chicken, the Portuguese way," made with tomatoes and wine, and we have included this recipe as well.

Caril is the name for curries, also served very "hot" with Manga Achar, a special mango chutney that is one of the little dishes accompanying it. The other little dishes contain chopped peanuts, coconut, cucumber, bananas, etc. They are similar to the Sambals (relishes) of India. Fishing is a major industry in both Angola and Portuguese Guinea. The fish of Mozambique and especially the shellfish-lobster tails, shrimp, and prawns-are considered by many to be the most delicious in the world (see page 75 on "How to cook shrimp in the Mozambique manner"). Coffees from Angola, Cape Verde, and Sao Tome are among the finest grown anywhere, and tea from the Zambezia region is of outstanding quality. Portuguese wines are an important adjunct to the menu.

How a Dinner is Served in Mozambique

Mozambique was colonized by Portugal in the fifteenth century, and the Portuguese influence is still very much in evidence. The beautiful seacoast city of Lourenco Marques, the capital of Mozambique, is a miniature Lisbon with its pastel buildings, sidewalk cafes, and tile floors. If you were a house guest in Lourenco Marques, your host would probably invite you to the bullfights on the outskirts of the city-one of the few places in Africa where one can still see this spectacle. On your return, your hostess would spread her dining-room table with an exquisite lace cloth and matching napkins from Madeira or Cape Verde. There would be two wine glasses at each place and flowers in a silver bowl flanked by imposing candelabra would form the centerpiece.

You would then be offered (Scotch) whiskey with soda or water. You may choose (Portuguese) port if you prefer. The dinner then begins with a well-chilled aperitif, either white port or dry Madeira. Red table wine is served with the entree and with the dessert.

Dinner begins with soup in attractive soup plates. The entree is then brought to the table in handsome bowls and served by the hostess, accompanied by the wine. Piri-piri, the hot pepper relish is passed in a small bowl. Bread is not generally a part of the meal unless it is requested. The salad accompanies the entree. Lastly fruit macerated in port vinho is the piece de resistance, and wine glasses are replenished. The guests then move to the living room where the hostess pours an excellent robust coffee from Angola in demitasse cups or Zambezian tea in larger tea cups. The meal is rounded off with a pony of Agua Ardente, a superb Portuguese liqueur.

How You Can Present a Mozambican Dinner

The presentation of this dinner is unique because the menu and food are from Mozambique but the service and the wines are strictly Portuguese.

If you happen to have a lace tablecloth and napkins, this is an opportunity to put them to use. Decorate the table with attractive candelabra, using white or beige candles, and a low floral centerpiece. Bring out your best china, silverware, and wine glasses.

Although the table is formally set, the dinner itself is quite informal. Set up a cocktail bar in another room with Scotch, soda, water, and ice and a bottle of port wine. Serve black olives and Portuguese cheeses as hors d'oeuvres.

At the dining-room table, dinner is approached in a leisurely fashion. Pour a well chilled white port wine (or any white wine) as an aperitif. The soup may be ladled into large soup plates from a tureen at the table or served from the kitchen. Matata, the unusual clam-peanut entree, and white rice in two attractive bowls are served by the hostess or passed. A small bowl of Piri-piri is placed on the table. Individual salads are set down at the left of each plate.

Provide knives and forks for the dessert. A glass bowl containing the fruit in wine is set before the hostess, who turns the fruit over in the bowl before arranging it on the dessert dishes. A red port wine may be poured with the dessert.

Coffee in demitasse cups or tea are taken in the living room after dinner with an after-dinner cordial or liqueur (if you cannot get Agua Ardente).

After your Mozambique dinner, play recordings of the Fado singers, an important part of Portuguese night life. Dressed in black shawls, they moan the sad songs of mournful women, singing of love and its disappointments.

Menu from Mozambique










    Shopping List for Eight


    dry Madeira
    Agua Ardente or any after-dinner liqueur
    red port wine
    Portuguese table wine

    Fruits and Vegetables

    1 head lettuce
    2 Ibs. tomatoes
    2 avocados
    1 Ib. potatoes
    2 Ibs. onions
    1 Ib. string beans
    1/2 Ibs. fresh young spinach
    1 fresh pineapple


    4 8-oz. cans chopped clams
    1 pint bottle lemon juice
    1 16-oz. can peach slices
    1 Ib. peanuts (shelled)
    1 Ib. white rice
    1 Ib. cashew nuts
    1/4 Ib. tea and/or
    1 Ib. coffee



    In a 3-quart saucepan:

    Bring to a boil 1 1/2 quarts WATER.

    Add: 2 tsp. SALT

    1/2 tsp. PEPPER
    3 large POTATOES, cut in chunks
    2 medium TOMATOES, cut in chunks
    2 large ONIONS, cut in chunks.

    Simmer for 30 minutes or until vegetables are tender.

    Puree through a sieve or food mill. (It should be a thin puree.)

    Add 1 Ib. FRESH STRING BEANS, cut across in thin slices.

    Simmer for about 10 minutes until beans are tender.

    Correct the Seasoning

    Serve in bowls.

    It will take a little time to slice the fresh string beans in very thin (straight-across) slices. As an adaptation and for the sake of speed, here's the fast modern version of this lovely soup:

    Combine: 1 cup INSTANT POTATOES

    1 1/2 quarts BOILING WATER
    1 6-oz. can TOMATO SAUCE

    No pureeing is necessary.

    Cut 1 package FROZEN ITALIAN BEANS (thawed) in thin slices.

    Add to the mixture above.

    Simmer until beans are done.

    Serve in bowls or large soup plates.


    Matata is a typical Mozambique entree made with pumpkin leaves. We have used spinach as a substitute. This is one dish that wasn't influenced by the cooking of Portugal. Imagine a combination like clams and peanuts and tender young greens! You may want to hold out the crushed red pepper. Start without it and add it gradually, with discretion.

    In a 4-quart saucepan

    Saute: 1 cup ONIONS chopped finely in

    2 oz. OLIVE OIL until soft but not brown.


    1 cup PEANUTS, chopped finely
    2 TOMATOES cut in small pieces
    1 Tbs. SALT
    1/2 tsp. BLACK PEPPER

    Simmer gently for 30 minutes.

    Add 1 1/2 Ibs. FRESH SPINACH (young leaves) chopped finely.

    Cover tightly and, as soon as leaves have wilted, Matata is ready to serve.

    Correct the Seasoning


    2 cups WHITE RICE in
    5 cups BOILING SALTED WATER until tender.

    Serve over rice.


    Combine: 4 Tbs. LEMON JUICE

    4 Tbs. OLIVE OIL
    1 Tbs. SALT
    1 tsp. GARLIC POWDER.

    Place in a small bowl.

    Serve with a tiny spoon. Use sparingly.


    Canned peach slices may be added to the Avocado Salad-in which case use one slice of tomato and two to three peach slices. This Lemon Dressing is excellent on a tossed green salad or hearts of lettuce. It is light and easy to make.

    Cut 1 head ICEBERG LETTUCE down in 3/4-inch round uniform slices.

    Arrange one slice on each salad plate.

    Alternate: 2 TOMATOES cut in 8-inch uniform slices overlapping with

    2 AVOCADOS cut in thick uniform slices across the lettuce in a straight line.

    Spoon 2 Tbs. of the following Lemon Dressing over the avocado salad:

    Lemon Dressing

    Combine: 1 cup LEMON JUICE (bottled)

    1 cup OLIVE OIL

    Shake: 1 cup PEACH SYRUP (from a can or use any fruit syrup)

    1 tsp. SALT
    1 tsp. SALAD HERBS
    1/4 tsp. PEPPER.

    Serve as a side salad.



    Cut in 1/2 inch slices and remove the core.

    Sugar each slice lightly on both sides.

    Place in a 2-quart glass or china bowl.

    Cover with 1/2 cup RED PORT WINE.

    Allow to stand for several hours.

    Turn the pineapple in the wine from time to time.

    Turn again just before serving on dessert dishes.

    Serve with spoons and forks.

    Cashew nuts are one of the major crops of Mozambique. It would be quite appropriate to sprinkle cashew nuts on the pineapple or to pass a bowl of cashew nuts with the dessert or as a snack later in the evening.


    Tea plantations are situated in the Zambezia region of Mozambique. That is why your menu reads Zambezian tea and Angolan coffee. If you can purchase this tea or coffee in a gourmet or specialty shop, it would add greatly to your dinner.

    If you prefer you could serve either of the following entrees in place of the Matata.


    In Mozambique about 4 Tbs. of hot red pepper are used in the Cafrial. In this recipe, crushed red peppers may be substituted. 1 tsp. cayenne pepper will give quite a "bite," so if you prefer to hold the seasoning and add it after the chickens are cooked, cut down on the amount given.

    Combine: 1 tsp. CAYENNE PEPPER

    1 Tbs. SALT
    1 tsp. GARLIC POWDER
    1/2 tsp. GROUND GINGER
    1 tsp. PAPRIKA and
    1/2 cup SALAD OIL, and blend thoroughly.

    Rub 4 2 1/2-Ib. WHOLE CHICKENS with the seasoned oil on all sides thoroughly.

    Roast, Broil, or Barbecue the chickens in your favorite manner, basting them from time to time with the seasoned oil until chickens are done. Cut chickens in half.

    Serve with plenty of white rice (allow 1 cup cooked rice per person).


    In a 2-quart saucepan:

    Place: 1 Ib. RAW SHRIMP (with or without shells)

    3 cups WATER warm from the tap
    1 tsp. SALT
    1 tsp. CRUSHED RED PEPPER, or use a few drops Tabasco.

    Squeeze 3 LEMON WEDGES into the pot and toss the lemon in it.

    Bring the shrimp up to the boiling point and turn off the flame. Cover.

    Allow to stand for 30 minutes. Shrimp will be thoroughly cooked.

    Devein, wash in clear water and chill.

    Serve with Piri-piri (see page 72).

    Note: how tender the shrimp become, cooked this way. And don't waste that water. Plan to use it in a chowder or in a sauce. Taste it. It's great! Other seafood may be prepared in this manner.

    Extracts from: Bea Sandler. The African Cookbook. Diane & Leo Dillon (Illust.). New York: Carol Publishing Group, 1993.

    To order a copy of The African Cookbook, please contact:

    The Carol Publishing Group
    600 Madison Avenue
    New York, NY 10022

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