Cubes of chikanda served as snack with chilli

Traditional Zambian Chikanda recipe (African polony)

Harriet Comley

Contributing writer

The first time I saw Zambian chikanda, my sweet-toothed mind thought it was chocolate cake! How wrong I was — chikanda is vegetarian polony or sausage. Chikanda is a beloved Zambian dish and if there is a special occasion then you better believe there will be some chikanda. The same way the British will have a Sunday roast, in Zambia there will be some chikanda.

This polony is made from chikanda orchids or tubers. These tubers are traditionally found in the grasslands of the Northern Province. The orchids are grounded and then mixed with pounded groundnuts (peanuts) and water to form a sort of cake mixture. Buy ready-pounded chikanda and groundnuts if you can. It makes the recipe much quicker and easier!

Traditionally a dish served by the Bemba people from Zambia’s Northern Province, chikanda is now enjoyed throughout the country. Chikanda can be eaten as a snack or as a relish with nshima (Zambia’s food staple). Cut up a slice and eat fresh or fry it and serve with tomatoes and onions.

Learn how to make Zambian chikanda below. If you're struggling to find pounded chikanda, MamasOwn Market delivers internationally.


  • 250g chikanda tubers, pounded
  • 500g groundnuts (peanuts), pounded or ground
  • 1 tsp chilli (preferably fresh)
  • 2 tbsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 litre water
  • Salt to taste


  1. 1
    Boil the water in a saucepan. Add the groundnuts until it forms a paste.
  2. 2
    Add salt to taste, diced onion, and bicarbonate of soda, and stir for around 15 minutes, until it starts to boil.
  3. 3
    When boiling, sprinkle small amounts of pounded chikanda into the groundnut paste mixture until it has a thick consistency. Patience is key with chikanda, adding little by little is the best way to make it.
  4. 4
    Keep stirring constantly (Zambian cooking always gives you a good arm workout). When the mixture becomes thick enough that it’s no longer sticking to the spoon or cooking stick. your chikanda is ready
  5. 5
    Reduce the heat and smooth the top of the chikanda with the back of the spoon or cooking stick. Then put the lid on the saucepan and cook on a low heat for 30 minutes.
  6. 6
    When it’s done, leave it to cool and then comes the scary bit . . . Turn your pot completely upside down over a plate. The chikanda should fall perfectly onto the plate in a cake-like shape!
  7. 7
    Cut into slices and serve with fresh chilli.

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Harriet Comley

Author - Harriet Comley

Born and raised in the U.K., Harriet is a travel enthusiast and freelance writer. She has lived in Canada, Vietnam and China, and is currently based in Zambia. Harriet has travelled extensively around the world, including many trips to Paris, and frequently returns home to London.

Last Updated 8 June 2022

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