Zambian Insect Recipe with Mealie Meal, Mustard, and Beer

An Insect

Zambian Insect Recipe with Mealie Meal, Mustard, and Beer
Region / culture: Zambia | Preparation time: 10 minutes | Cooking time: 10 minutes | Servings: 4


An Insect
An Insect

This unique and intriguing recipe brings to the table an unconventional ingredient: flying moths. While the idea of eating insects might be novel or even off-putting to some, various cultures around the globe have been incorporating insects into their diets for centuries due to their nutritional benefits and sustainability as a food source. This recipe, which pairs baked moths with mealie meal and fresh greens, offers a crunchy, nutritious meal that is both sustainable and flavorful. Accompanied by a bottle of Zambian beer, this dish promises an adventurous culinary experience.


The practice of eating insects, known as entomophagy, has a long history in many parts of the world, including Africa, Asia, and Latin America. This particular recipe is inspired by traditional African cuisine, where insects like moths, caterpillars, and locusts are often harvested and cooked in various ways. In Zambia, for example, caterpillars and moths are considered delicacies and are known for their protein content. This recipe has evolved from traditional methods of preparation to suit modern cooking standards while maintaining its cultural roots.


How to prepare

  1. Collect moths in a bag, taking into consideration that their lifespan after being captured is approximately 1 – 2 hours.
  2. Remove the wings from the deceased moths and bake them in a moderate oven for 10 minutes.
  3. Serve the baked moths with mealie meal and greens.
  4. This dish pairs excellently with Gold Medal beer!


  • For those looking to experiment, this recipe can be varied by adding different spices or herbs to the moths before baking, such as chili powder, garlic, or rosemary. Additionally, the mealie meal can be substituted with other grains like rice or quinoa for a different texture and flavor profile.

Cooking Tips & Tricks

To ensure the best flavor and texture, it's crucial to bake the moths shortly after they've ceased moving to preserve their freshness. Removing the wings before baking helps in achieving a more palatable texture. For those new to cooking insects, it's important to start with a clean, humane method of collection and to ensure the moths are thoroughly cleaned before cooking.

Serving Suggestions

This dish is best served hot, accompanied by fresh romaine or other greens and a side of mealie meal. The baked moths provide a crunchy texture that contrasts nicely with the softness of the mealie meal and the freshness of the greens. Pairing the dish with a cold bottle of "Gold Medal" Zambian beer enhances the flavors and offers a complete dining experience.

Cooking Techniques

Baking is the preferred method for cooking the moths, as it preserves their nutritional content and ensures a crispy texture. However, they can also be fried or sautéed for a richer flavor. The key is to cook them quickly to prevent them from becoming tough.

Ingredient Substitutions

If mealie meal is not available, other fine grains or flours can be used as a substitute. Similarly, if romaine is not to your liking, any fresh, leafy green can be used in its place. For a non-alcoholic pairing, a ginger beer or sparkling water with lemon can provide a refreshing complement to the dish.

Make Ahead Tips

The moths can be prepared and baked ahead of time and then reheated just before serving. However, for the best texture and flavor, it's recommended to bake them fresh. The mealie meal and greens can also be prepared in advance to save time.

Presentation Ideas

Serve the baked moths atop a bed of mealie meal, surrounded by fresh greens, for a visually appealing dish. Garnish with a slice of lemon or a sprig of fresh herbs to add color and enhance the flavor.

Pairing Recommendations

In addition to the recommended "Gold Medal" Zambian beer, this dish pairs well with white wines that have a crisp, acidic profile, such as Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio. These beverages complement the dish's flavors without overpowering them.

Storage and Reheating Instructions

Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to two days. To reheat, simply place the moths on a baking sheet in a preheated oven at a moderate temperature until warmed through. Avoid microwaving, as this can make the moths soggy.

Nutrition Information

Calories per serving

The calorie content of this dish is relatively low, making it an excellent option for those looking to maintain or reduce their calorie intake. The exact number of calories will depend on the serving size and the proportions of the ingredients used.


This dish is relatively low in carbohydrates, with the primary source being the mealie meal, a type of maize flour that is a staple in many African diets. The exact carbohydrate content will vary depending on the serving size but expect a moderate amount primarily from the mealie meal component.


Moths, like many insects, contain a higher percentage of protein than fat. However, they do provide a good source of healthy fats, including omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. The overall fat content of this dish is low to moderate, making it a healthy option for those monitoring their fat intake.


Insects are an excellent source of high-quality protein, and moths are no exception. This dish is rich in proteins, providing all the essential amino acids necessary for human health. The protein content is significantly higher than that of many meat-based dishes, making it an excellent option for those looking to increase their protein intake.

Vitamins and minerals

Moths are also a good source of various vitamins and minerals, including iron, zinc, potassium, and B vitamins. These nutrients contribute to the overall nutritional value of the dish, supporting health and well-being.


It's important to note that some individuals may be allergic to insects. As with any new food, it's advisable to consume a small amount initially to ensure there is no adverse reaction.


Overall, this moth-based dish is a nutritious, protein-rich meal that is low in carbohydrates and fats but high in essential vitamins and minerals. It offers a sustainable and environmentally friendly alternative to traditional meat dishes, with the added benefit of introducing new flavors and textures to the palate.


This moth-based dish offers a unique and sustainable dining experience that is rich in protein and nutrients. With its simple preparation and versatile serving options, it's a great way to introduce insect-based cuisine into your diet. Whether you're an adventurous eater or looking to reduce your environmental footprint, this recipe provides a delicious and nutritious alternative to traditional meat dishes.

How did I get this recipe?

The moment I found this recipe is etched in my memory forever. It was a warm summer day, and I was strolling through the bustling market in my hometown. The air was filled with the fragrant scents of spices and fresh produce, and I couldn't help but feel a sense of nostalgia as I perused the various stalls.

As I wandered through the market, my eyes were drawn to a small, unassuming booth tucked away in a corner. Curious, I made my way over and was greeted by an elderly woman with a warm smile.

"Hello, dear," she said, her voice soft and gentle. "Would you like to try something different today?"

Intrigued, I nodded, and the woman reached under the counter and pulled out a small, intricately decorated recipe book. Flipping through the pages, she paused on a recipe titled "An Insect."

"An insect?" I asked, puzzled. "What kind of dish is that?"

The woman chuckled softly. "Oh, it's not what you think, dear. An Insect is actually a traditional delicacy in some cultures. It's a sweet and savory dish that is sure to delight your taste buds."

Intrigued, I asked the woman to teach me how to make the dish. She smiled and agreed, leading me to her modest kitchen at the back of the booth. As we gathered the ingredients and prepared the dish, she shared with me the story behind the recipe.

"An Insect is a dish that has been passed down through generations in my family," she explained. "It was first created by my great-grandmother, who was known for her culinary skills. She was inspired by the vibrant colors and flavors of the market and wanted to create a dish that captured the essence of summer."

As we cooked together, the woman shared with me her tips and tricks for creating the perfect An Insect. She explained how to balance the sweetness of the honey with the tanginess of the vinegar, and how to infuse the dish with the aromatic spices that would elevate the flavors.

As we sat down to enjoy our creation, I marveled at the complexity of the dish. The flavors danced on my tongue, each bite a symphony of sweet and savory notes. I couldn't believe that something so simple could be so delicious.

After bidding the woman farewell and thanking her for sharing her recipe with me, I returned home with a newfound sense of inspiration. I couldn't wait to recreate the dish for my family and friends, to share with them the magic of An Insect.

Over the years, I have continued to perfect the recipe, adding my own twist here and there to make it truly my own. Each time I make An Insect, I am transported back to that warm summer day in the market, to the smell of spices and the laughter of the woman who first introduced me to the dish.

Now, whenever I cook An Insect, I am reminded of the power of food to bring people together, to create memories that last a lifetime. And as I sit down to enjoy the dish with my loved ones, I am grateful for the chance encounter that led me to discover this hidden gem of a recipe.


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