Sukulwenkosi Dube-Matutu, columnist
It was nothing but tears of joy for Mrs Sibonokuhle Ncube, 32, after winning the Matabeleland South Provincial Traditional Cooking Competition from First Lady Amai Auxillia Mnangagwa yesterday.
Ms Ncube, who was the youngest of the 20 contestants, blew the judges away with her menu which she said targeted “ama 2000” (the younger generation).
Her experience as a mother has motivated her to come up with a menu that can appeal to the complex generation that is not so inclined to consume traditional foods.
To start, Mrs. Ncube served meatballs wrapped in ibhobola with red pepper on the side and meatballs with peeled sweet potato.
For her breakfast, she served porridge made from umkhomo and ntolwanetea made from umsuzwana.
She said the tea cleanses the system and has good medicinal benefits such as smoke healing.
His main course was isitshwala made from sorghum served with boiled fish and cucumber and red pepper.
She also prepared inkobe made from ground walnuts and round walnuts served with carrots.
For dessert, she served wild fruits which included umtshwankela, umnyi, umqokolo and umtshekisani.
For her efforts, Ms Ncube won a two-night voucher for two at Kuduland Camp in Nottingham Estate along with a food basket and 10kg of small cereal seeds.
During her two-night stay, she will enjoy a boat cruise, bush walk and flight camp visit.
The other competitors also received baskets of food and 10 kg of small grain seeds.
The Traditional Cook-Out competition program was launched by the First Lady in 2021.
The national competition will take place on May 25 in Victoria Falls.
The initiative was born out of the realization that the consumption of indigenous foods has declined in the country, as most people are opting for fast food, exposing citizens to the negative effects of some of the processed foods.
Ms Ncube, who is a housewife, said her cooking skills were self-taught.
She said she chose some of the recipes by interacting with other women.
“I am still young myself and I know how picky young people can be about eating traditional foods.
I have a 10 year old daughter at home and most of the time she refuses to eat traditional food.
I then decided to prepare a meal for ama 2,000.
In preparing my dishes, I mixed my traditional food with modern food so that when young people taste modern food, they also take a bite of traditional food,” she said.
Ms. Ncube expressed her gratitude to the First Lady for launching the program which enabled rural women to show off their cooking skills.
She said she also learned a lot from the Cook-Out contest by interacting with other women and seeing their dishes.
Representing the First Lady, the Deputy Minister for Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality, Barbara Rwodzi, congratulated the participants from the province of Matabeleland South for their well-prepared delicacies.
She urged the province to safeguard its revenue.
“The Cook-Out competition is focused on three goals which include our health care as a nation, our culture as a people, and the economic empowerment especially of women and the growth of our economy as a province.
Traditional foods are essential to our health as a country.
The Cook-Out is an important initiative for the nation as it helps unlock the high nutritional values of our traditional foods and helps promote a healthy nation,” she said.
Deputy Minister Rwodzi said the Cook-Out competition also aims to promote culinary tourism and national brand identity through unique traditional diets.
She said the First Lady was doing a great job of instilling the culture of ubuntu among people.
Deputy Minister Rwodzi said preparing traditional foods was a great way to remind young people of their origins and traditions.
She urged people to be proud of their tradition through their food, dress and conduct. She said traditional food could be used to promote decentralization.
“While browsing the food stalls, I noticed that there were popular dishes such as umxhanxa, umcaba and inopy.
I have tasted these dishes elsewhere but they taste different here.
This means that the way you prepare your meals here is different from anywhere in the country.
You can mark and package some of these products and put them on the shelves.
Even when these products are sold outside the country, the money that will be collected will come back to the province and can contribute to the growth of your economy.
This is decentralization,” 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 the Permanent Secretary for Provincial Affairs and Decentralization for Matabeleland South, Ms. Lathiso Dlamini-Maseko, Minister for Provincial Affairs and Decentralization for Matabeleland South, Cde Abedinico Ncube said that the Cook- Out plays a crucial role in preserving traditional foods and sustaining culture. .
He said the province of Matabeleland South is endowed with a number of traditional fruit trees and wild fruits.
Cde Ncube said the soils in the province are good for growing nutrient-rich small grains.
“We are renowned for having the best amacimbi which I am happy to say are being demanded by many across the country and across borders.
These are part of today’s cuisine. I want to thank the First Lady for initiating such a program of great nutritional value and great impact.
We are all aware that most of us have developed a taste for Western foods at the expense of our healthy, nutritious and organic foods with medicinal qualities,” he said. — @DubeMatutu