Botswana Cuisine

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Botswana Cuisine, while sharing plenty of culinary aspects found in other South African cuisines, is still quite unique. Botswana cuisine is often referred to as ‘Setswana food,’ named after the predominant language spoken in Botswana.


Seswaa (Photo Attributed to Author: Kalanga)

A heavily salted mashed-up meat dish, called Seswaa, is the national dish of Botswana, and is a perfect example of unique Botswana Cuisine.  Seswaa is a simple meat stew served over thick polenta or “pap”. The meat is boiled with onions and peppers, until falling-apart tender. That’s all there is to it. To add anything more is frowned upon as an invasive violation of customs and tradition.

In the Botswana open-air marketplaces you will find a large variety of foods. Some foods are imported from neighboring countries, but many are grown locally,  utilizing irrigation techniques. Botswanans raise their own livestock, including a great quantity of high-quality beef, as well as lamb, mutton, chicken and other meats in good supply. Beef is by far the most popular of meats, with goat meat being the closest second favorite. Also integral to Botswana cuisine are the abundant River Fish.

The main agricultural crops in Botswana are maize and sorghum. Quite a few different kinds of beans and legumes are grown, including ditloo, letlhodi, cow peas,  and “groundnuts” (what most Africans call Peanuts). Grains, such as wheat, rice, and other kinds of cereals, are not grown locally, but are imported.

Botswana farmers raise lots of vegetables, including: onions, potatoes, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, spinach, carrots, cabbage and lettuce. Adding to all those, are some wild vegetables that are gathered when in season, as well as dried fruit and vegetable leaves. Dried bean leaves, for instance, are a very popular ingredient in Setswana food.

Botswana Cuisine

Baobob Tree (Photo Attributed to Author: Quinn Norton)

A wide variety of fruits are available and plentiful (in season) locally, including watermelons, which many believe to have originally come from Botswana. Two other kinds of melons, one called lerotse or lekatane, the other called marula, are also grown. Some Botswana people live in the desert areas, where they rely on wild melons, which are an important food and water source for them.

One of the world’s greatest super-fruits is Baobab, which grows on the ancient, majestic Baobab trees indigenous to Botswana.

Since most of their fruits and vegetables are seasonal, they are often salted, or dried, for preservation. Hence, Botswana Cuisine often calls for using lots of different ways of cooking preserved foods.

So that’s just a little bit of cultural and agricultural background information. Want more? You can Google it. Let’s now get into the real reason you came to this page … the recipes!

For your convenience, the dishes listed below are hyperlinked to a print-friendly page with the recipe of your clicked-choice on it. Have lots of fun, as you go now into the delicious world of …

Botswana Cuisine!

Bogobe (also called “Slap-Pap” – stiff cornmeal porridge)

Chicken in a Hole

Marinated Grilled Beefsteak, Botswana Style

Seswaa (Stewed Meat, Botswana’s National Dish)

Vetkoek with Mince (2 recipes in 1, vetkoek is a pastry, in this recipe it is filled with curried minced meat)

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