Zimbabwe – Mopane Worms

by Bob Huyu

All around the world, eating of insects is the hobby to people, and includes ants, beetles, grasshoppers and so many to mention. Today we will focus on worms specifically Mopane worms from Zimbabwe. They are also called mashonja and macimbi in Shona and Ndebele respectively.

Mopane is the name of a tree that these type of worms likes to feed on and keep generations through all over the tree lifetime.

Mopane worms are the caterpillars of the emperor moth type (imbrasia belina) that feeds mainly of leaves and tree gut.

Like other insects, Mopane worms are highly in proteins for about two to three times of meat proteins.

Mopane worms are best taste with stiff porridge (Sadza) or as they are, though the taste of Mopane worms stays the same, there is a quite different taste when eaten with Sadza. Welcome as we prepare this cuisine from Zimbabwe.


Mopane worms are either fried or cooked with vegetables after primary steps, let us prepare both of the stages respectively.

  • 3 Cups of Mopane worms
  • 2 Tomatoes
  • 3 bulb onions
  • Peanut butter

Cooking steps

Let us go through the first steps, primary ones;

  • Collect Mopane worms as required, depending on the number of people to serve.
  • Using modern tools, remove the inward of the Mopane worms (mostly chewed leaves) by squeezing from mouth to tail.
  • Traditionally we use sticks, laying the worm on a flat stone and start squeezing the wastes from the worm by holding it’s head to the tail side.

For preparation of fried Mopane, the followings should be adhered;

  • After removing all wastes from the worm, dry them on direct sunlight for a couple of hours until well dried.
  • Take some water and mix it with salt.
  • Splash drops over the Mopane worms and add some flavors like pepper powder or garlic.
  • Fry them for 7 minutes less in a medium heat, keep moving them in the pan so that they won’t burn.
  • Ready for meal.

Some prefer it with vegetables, let us prepare it;

  • You may prepare this second meal direct from sunlight drying process ended, but for the perfect taste, I recommend to start with frying steps then mix with vegetables.
  • Take another pan, chop in onions and tomatoes, fry for 3 minutes then add in Mopane worms, check salt for taste.
  • Boil for 3 minutes don’t add water, just tomato soup will work the magic. One minute more for peanut butter, serve.

After the processes are done, enjoy this cuisine with family or friends.

Fried Mopane worms with pepper soup
Mopane worms with Sadza
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