Malawi has a vast of local Cuisine that are used in local setting and some in the few urban areas country wide, however they lack documentation whereby they can be known not only to the local people around nor only to the tourist that come and visit the country but to the whole world at large. One of the fish dish is the “Usipa wotendela” which does come with its companion the Nsima ya Mgaiwa a good combination for that one hungry person.
The Usipa Engraulicypris sardellais an exploited pelagic cyprinid, endemic to Lake Malawi, which reaches a maximum length of about 130mm. They are caught with a net in the Lake Malawi and then they are dried in the sun, the Usipa is quite seasonal (Edward H Allison1, 2002). The Yawo locally sit on the shore of the vast lake of Malawi and the fish Usipa and it is one of their staple fish along the lake shore.
From the dried Usipa a dish called “Usipa wotendela” arise. It is locally made and for some time it has been the favorite ndiwo (relish) among the local people. Usipa does contribute significantly to dietary protein. The main ingredient is the Usipa and the other ingredients include; salt, groundnut flour (nsinjiro), tomatoes, onions and cooking oil. The women wait for the fisher man to come to shore after a whole night out fishing in the lake, they prefer the fresh Usipa which they later put it in winnower or other use the iron racks to sundry the Usipa.
After buying the Usipa from the fisher men and putting it on the sun to dry the next job is to make the groundnut flour. The women with their kids usually sit down and select some of the groundnuts to make sure they utilize good quality groundnuts, then they pound the groundnuts to make the groundnut flour (nsinjiro) which they use. They make sure they have enough tomatoes, cooking oil and onions that they can use for preparing the dish. The dish does require the correct amount of ingredients if they use too much the dish becomes sour and in the end it loses is sentimental taste. Women spend a lot of time in the kitchen preparing the dish they always try to bring the best out of the Usipa. A properly made “Usipa wotendela” ndiwo has that elegance taste of the properly smashed groundnuts and the Tomato with the onions adding a natural aroma.
It is culture that a good wife should be able to prepare her family a good meal. Nsima ya Mgaiwa is usually preferred with the Usipa wotendela dish. The meal is served and the families usually sit together where by the dad sit on a wooden chair and the mother and kids they sit on the ground enjoying the meal with a plate of locally made pumpkin leaves (nkhwani).The recipe for the dish has been copied from the traditional areas to urban areas with time past and people living in different location in the urban areas and other local restaurants find pleasure in this local dish.
Nsima ya Mgaiwa and Usipa wotendela has been the meal wives would prepare for their husbands to console them on a long day at work and a well prepared dish would also win favor in the eyes of the husband. For a normal dish with Usipa people usually prepare Usipa stew whereby they use fresh Usipa instead of dried Usipa. “You have to taste the culture to understand it” Deborah Carter “, I personally prefer the Usipa wotendela in fact I would choose it over the stew Usipa.
Edward H Allison1, F. E. L. M., 2002. Fisheries Management Science Programme Department for International Development, Norwich: University of East Anglia.