Globalisation has affected the tastes of many people in the developing world. Anyone that talks about eating traditional food is seen as backward and in dire need for “re-orientation”.
However, lip-smacking fast foods and other top of the range types of food cooked in the best possible way using exotic spices, have become much sought after as citizens abandon traditional food stuffs.
International fast foods firms — particularly McDonalds and Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) and lately Chicken Inn and Steers — have become the signature for anyone claiming to be hungry.
This has brought about terms such as the “McDonaldisation” of the world, implying that the world has been taken over by fast foods. Nonetheless, according to scientists, the “new and tasty” foods have brought with them potential health hazards.
But Dzimbahwe Restaurant — which opened its doors in 2012 and based in Kensington, Harare — has defied the odds and remained stuck in preparing traditional food. It is one place where brown sadza (sadza rezviyo), bulrush millet and sorghum is still prepared.
And the relish does not pretend to be Western at all; mouthwatering dishes such as pumpkin leaves (muboora) with peanut butter, rape with peanut butter, mustard greens (tsunga) with peanut butter, oxtail, roadrunner, fish, maguru (tripe), matumbu, liver, gizzards and zvinyenze (tripe and intestines), are served.
Rice with peanut butter is also prepared, and is reportedly popular with the upper end of the restaurant’s clientele.
The dishes served at Dzimbahwe bring about the concept of the home, in general, and rural areas in particular, because the dishes are popular there. The environment is equally refreshing and spacious. There is an option of enjoying food from inside the restaurant or outside in the tent. But it is the service that is top notch.
Upon arrival, a welcome drink is served before your order is taken. As you enjoy the drink, your order is prepared and in less than three minutes, it would be ready. And the food doesn’t disappoint at all.
It is always well-cooked and you don’t need to be at your strongest to bite the meat, be it oxtail, maguru or zvinyenze. The nature of the restaurant’s clientele tells so much about the quality and taste of the food.
It is usually the mature customer, who want to have the original taste of food, who patronise the restaurant. Clients that want privacy, to discuss business issues, are allocated a private room on request.
“Coming here is like taking an off-day from the hustle and bustle of the city; sort of going back to the roots (rural areas). We are popular with patrons for our traditional food.
“All of December 2016, we were making muboora. Our main objective is to keep people healthy. We respect the name Zimbabwe and we give people an opportunity to reconnect with the food they ate when they were young.
“Unsurprisingly, we attract top Government and Harare City Council officials seeking traditional food. Our philosophy is to encourage healthy eating on the budget,” said an official. The pricing, which starts from $1, is designed in a manner that seeks to accommodate both the lower and upper end of the market.
The sadza is made from maize that is grown without the use of fertilisers. Essentially, Dzimbahwe Restaurant serves organic foods. To ensure food remains healthy, food is prepared for a given each day, and nothing is rolled over to the following day.
Critically, sadza from small grains is made while one waits. There is always boiling water on the stove to make brown sadza. It takes an average of 10 minutes to make the sadza so that there are no left overs, and that nothing is consumed cold.