* It’s a healthy dish of just plantains and beef
* Others prefer chicken to beef but the name remains mbalagha
* This dish is also a household name in East and Western Africa
By Duncan Mlanjira
Most middle income earning people nowadays prefer healthy traditional food dishes and their huge appetite for it has inspired many caterers to opt providing for such clientele in the cities of Malawi.
One popular place that offer such appetizing dishes are the open eatery stalls at Pa Zodetsa, behind Kamba Market in Blantyre, where people patronise for their lunch — and also for dinner when they opt not to reach home early.
Meal options are aplenty — boiled local chicken; high breed fried chicken; beef stew; roasted beef; fried beef; boiled goat meat; goat meat stew; offals (nthumbwana); mang’ina, you name it — served with any preference of nsima; rice or chips.
One caterer, Nancy Luhanga Choka, has come up with something unique — a sumptuous traditional Ngonde (Nkhonde) dish named Mbalagha & Soup, whose dress appearance does tickle the taste buds.
Nancy says Mbalagha is a Ngonde name, whose soup is a mixture of plantains with beef, saying “this dish is also a household name in East and Western Africa”.
“But it is also a traditional dish which the Ngondes [of Karonga] are proud of and I thought of bringing this closer to Ngondes here as well as for others in the South to sample and appreciate this delicacy.
“It’s a healthy dish of just plantains and beef — that’s all but others prefer chicken to beef but the name remains mbalagha.
“The plantains give a rich source of fiber, Vitamin A and C and also a low fat source of starchy. It’s nutritious and for those that observe their healthy diets.”
Nancy said for starters, they are catering on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays — “however, we plan to add one more day during the week depending on demand”.
She operates in partnership with business associate Tumpale Mwenitete operating at Pa Zodetsa behind Kamba Market, branching off at the famous Stereo entertainment joint going east.
The stall at Pa Zodetsa is opposite Pombe Bar located in the famous Zodetsa Building. “However, for those in Lilongwe, they can find us at Ufulu Total filling station behind Area 30 Petroda filling station every Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays.”
Why do a lot of people flock to Pa Zodetsa for their food? “In my opinion, I think lot of people flock to Pa Zodetsa because of its rich history of various business services available around the premises.
“Having finished what they have come for and spot that food is also available, they partake to sample what’s on offer.
“For those coming for the first time, once they discover the different varieties of good local food in town at very competitive prices, they continue to patronise because in addition, the place is conveniently located.”
Indeed, Pa Zodetsa — coupled with Kamba Market and a business building that houses pubs adjacent to the market — is an almost a one-stop entertainment hub of Soche Township also catering for various services such as barbershops, tailoring shops, grocery and liquor stores and many others.
Then there is the entertainment line of buildings along the Kenyatta Road, soon after branching off Kapeni Road, which houses famous drinking joints such as Stereo, Pa Squecy and Abbie’s — which is a beehive of activities on every single night till dawn.
At all these locations, food is served but the best place is Pa Zodetsa and coupled with the introduction of Mbalagha & Soup, it remains a must-visit joint where people tend to meet their friends they haven’t seen each other for some time while others gain more.