Sukulwenkosi Dube-Matutu, Chronicle Reporter
IT was all tears of joy for 32-year-old Ms Sibonokuhle Ncube after she came first in the First Lady Amai Auxillia Mnangagwa’s Matabeleland South Provincial Traditional Cook-Out competition yesterday.
Ms Ncube, who was the youngest of all 20 contestants, swept the judges off their feet with her menu which she said was targeting “ama 2000” (the young generation).
Her experience as a mother motivated her to come up with a menu that can appeal to the complex generation that is not so keen to consume traditional foods.
For starters, Ms Ncube served meat balls wrapped in ibhobola with red pepper on the side and meat balls with peeled sweet potatoes.
For her breakfast she served porridge made from umkhomo and ntolwane, tea made from umsuzwane.
She said tea cleanses the system and has good medicinal benefits such as curing flue.
Her main dish was isitshwala made from sorghum served with boiled fish and cucumber and red pepper.
She also prepared inkobe made from ground nuts and round nuts served with carrots.
For dessert she served wild fruits which comprised umtshwankela, umnyi, umqokolo and umtshekisani.
For her effort, Ms Ncube won a two nights voucher for two at Kuduland Camp at Nottingham Estate as well as a food hamper and 10kg small grain seed.
During her two nights stay she will enjoy a boat cruise, bush drive and fly camp visit.
The other competitors also received food hampers and 10kg small grain seed.
The Traditional Cook-Out competition programme was pioneered by the First Lady in 2021.
The national competition will be held on May 25 in Victoria Falls.
The initiative was birthed out of the realisation that the consumption of indigenous food has been on the decrease in the country as most people are opting for fast foods, exposing citizens to the negative effects of some of the processed foods.
Ms Ncube, who is a house wife, said her cooking skills were self-taught.
She said she picked some of the recipes from interacting with other ladies.
“I’m still young myself and I know just how fussy youngsters can be about eating traditional foods.
I have a 10-year-old at home and most of the time, she refuses to eat traditional food.
I then decided to prepare a meal that caters for ama 2 000.
In preparing my dishes, I mixed my traditional food with modern food so that when the youngsters taste the modern food, they will also take a bite of the traditional food,” she said.
Ms Ncube expressed her gratitude to the First Lady for launching the programme which has allowed rural women to showcase their cooking talents.
She said she has also learnt a lot from the Cook-Out competition through interaction with other women and seeing their dishes.
Representing the First Lady, Environment Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry Deputy Minister Barbara Rwodzi commended the participants from Matabeleland South Province for their well-prepared delicacies.
She urged the province to safeguard their recipes.
“The Cook-Out competition is focused on three objectives which include our health care as a nation, our culture as a people and economic empowerment in particular the women and the growth of our economy as a province.
Traditional foods are key to our health as a country.
The Cook-Out is an important initiative to the nation as it helps to unlock high nutritional values of our traditional foods and helps promote a healthy nation,” she said.
Deputy Minister Rwodzi said the Cook-Out competition also seeks to promote culinary tourism and national brand identity through unique traditional diets.
She said the First Lady was doing great work in instilling the culture of ubuntu among people.
Deputy Minister Rwodzi said preparing traditional foods was a great way to remind the youths about their origins and traditions.
She urged people to take pride in their tradition through their food, dressing and manner of conduct. She said traditional food could be used to promote devolution.
“As I was touring food stands, I noted that there were popular dishes such as umxhanxa, umcaba and inopi.
I have tasted these dishes elsewhere but they taste differently here.
This means the way you prepare your meals here is different from across the country.
You can brand and package some of these products and put them on the shelves.
Even when these products are sold out of the country the money that will be raised will come back to the province and can help grow your economy.
That is devolution,” Deputy Minister Rwodzi said.
She urged the province to take advantage of tourists and market their products.
In a speech read on his behalf by Matabeleland South Provincial Affairs and Devolution Permanent Secretary Mrs Lathiso Dlamini-Maseko, Matabeleland South Provincial Affairs and Devolution Minister, Cde Abedinico Ncube said the Cook-Out competition plays a crucial role in preserving traditional food and upholding culture.
He said Matabeleland South Province is endowed with a number of traditional fruit trees and wild fruits.
Cde Ncube said the soils in the province were good for growing small grains which are rich in nutrients.
“We are renowned for having the best amacimbi which I’m pleased to say are demanded by many people throughout the country and beyond the borders.
These are part of today’s cuisine. I would like to thank the First Lady for initiating such as programme of great nutritional value and impact.
We are all aware that most of us have developed a taste for western foods at the expense of our healthy, nutritional and organic foods with medicinal qualities,” he said. — @DubeMatutu