The tale of a nation and their culture would be incomplete without their food. Food is the purest expression of the people, their story and the land that they call home. Steeped in traditions and stories, food is how a culture translates their homeland’s expression of natural abundance into an expression of their own values, beliefs and preferences.
Catering to an international clientele, safari camps have long touted their ‘bush gourmet’ food, which promised European style fine dining dishes expertly executed in a remote setting. At Time + Tide we are redefining what it means to create a bush gourmet experience. We’ve kept the expert culinary skills, impeccable service and artful plating, but now we’re putting Zambia’s extraordinary flavours, produce and culture on the forefront of our menus. Blending the best of Zambia with inspiration from around the world, we are pushing boundaries and creating a fresh and enticing culinary experiences. The wild fruits, seeds, roots, mushrooms, nuts and vegetables of Zambia will now be just as important to the nature of every meal as our delicious sauces, perfectly roasted meats and handmade baked goods.
To create a menu that showcases the diverse and delicious wild ingredients of Zambia in innovative ways, Time + Tide worked with chef Annabel Hughes, who spent time in our camps working directly with our culinary teams. When designing the new dishes, Hughes sought inspiration from the world around her – the wild setting, the local cultures and Time + Tide’s values of authenticity and staying close to the earth. There is a story behind every meal, which comes to life on the plate and palette of each guest.
Using ingredients such as masau (fruit from the buffalo thorn bush), munkoyo root, bondwe greens and uchebele (a green sorghum similar to quinoa), the dishes let the flavours of Zambia shine to an international audience. (For a complete list of ingredients, see at the bottom of the page.)
Sourcing such ingredients can be challenging given the remote locations of the camp. We grow what we can in our Kapani Garden, and the rest is purchased from local farmers or sourced from the open-air markets that are the heart and soul of Zambian communities. As the seasons change, different fruits, vegetables, seeds and nuts become available, allowing our chefs to have an ever-changing, but always delicious rotation of dishes.
A climate favourable to year-round growth makes for a productive and abundant garden – the real problem is keeping the wildlife out! Many antelope species can easily leap over a fence, baboons climb over without a second thought and you can practically hear elephants laughing as they push right through even the strongest fences in pursuit of the tender lettuces and succulent tomatoes. The local farmers and the Kapani gardeners rely on knowledge passed down through generations of bush farmers to brilliantly manage such challenges and keep our camps flush with fresh produce.
Thanks to their efforts and the inspired guidance of Hughes, guests can now expect dishes such as Luangwa tabbouleh (using the 3 local sorghums, Kapani herbs and community-grown tomatoes), munkoyo panna cotta with masau syrup and fresh fruit, and roasted pork fillet with homemade wembe syrup and ginger from our Kapani garden. Our Luangwa energy bars are made using Luangwa honey, uchebele, mabele and mauyu powder. These delicious and highly nutritious treats will be sent out with the morning game drive to enjoy during the coffee break.
When serving, each meal will be accompanied by the stories and inspiration behind the dishes. If guests are interested, they will also have the chance to see the raw ingredients for themselves. It’s fascinating to see that something like a munkoyo root can be transformed into a silky, elegant panna cotta. This is the ultimate foodie experience – with a Zambian twist!
Masau: fruit from the buffalo thorn bush, very small and similar to an apple in taste and texture
Munyanya: a wild root that is very similar to potatoes
Munkoyo: a wild tree root - the roots are stripped and soaked, then used to produce delicious drinks, as well as our panna cotta
Mabele: red sorghum, grown by local farmer Moses Sakala - mostly used like quinoa, but if they are soaked and roasted they are also very like poppy seeds.
Uchebele: green sorghum, grown by Moses Sakala, used like quinoa
Mapila: white sorghum, grown by Moses Sakala, similar to barley
Mongongo nut: a soft oily nut with many uses spanning sweet and savoury foods - procured from a local harvester named Graeme, they are unbelievably tricky to get into, but so worth it.
Mauyu: baobab fruit, which is cracked open to access the powdery fruit covering the seeds - with its tart flavour and high vitamin C content, it is excellent for flavouring dishes
Bondwe: a dark leafy green, used in place of spinach
Njama beans: a bean similar in appearance to black eyed peas - used to make a hummus that is better than chickpeas!
Kalahari truffles: a rare and delicious mushroom found in the arid regions of southern Africa
Wembe: fruit from the tamarind tree, grown in the surrounding areas - the paste is extracted from the seeds and turned into coulis, jellies and sauces, for sweet or savoury dishes
Kafue freshwater crayfish: a delicious invasive species in the Kafue and Zambezi Rivers, a farmer in Kafue has started trapping them in order to reduce their numbers, as they feed on fish eggs - a great way to support local conservation efforts.