If I could time travel, I would want to live in pre-colonial Zimbabwe, particularly the Munhumutapa Kingdom. This is in the 16th century. This was a large kingdom that covered Zimbabwe, Zambia, Lesotho, Mozambique, Swaziland and South Africa.
I romanticise this period because of the books written on this period and I often imagine I would have been a brave warrior. Truth is as a woman I would not have had any rights I have now and the men would have decided what was right for me or sold me or settled a debt with me. A truth that I can ignore in my imagination. By all accounts, it looks like this was a well-organised kingdom with a stable economy. What really fascinates me is how they were able to build structures like Great Zimbabwe without any formal education. Or how they were able to trade and communicate with the Portuguese or find minerals like gold and iron without all the tools that you need today. Unfortunately, we do not have a lot that was written by the Shona people on what it was like, the norm was to rely on spirit mediums to relay oral history.
I am persuaded that through trade with the Portuguese is how we got things like maize and peanuts into our diets. I wonder how the maize would cascade from the king to the ordinary people and how much clout the person who designed tools like duri, mutswi and so on got. I am convinced it was women who designed the tools and the men would carve them out of stone or wood. Without books or the internet, I also wonder how new recipes were shared? I know there was a list of food you were not supposed to cook for your husband before going to war which I guess would come from the commanders.
Going into the Portuguese aisle I always look for food that is familiar. It is where I used to buy Cerelac for Leo when he was a baby as well as maize for mangai. Next to the maize are the corn nuts. I tried and it tasted so much like maputi but softer.
The Portuguese make their maputi or corn nuts by frying or roasting the maize kernels. The maize kernels are soaked overnight. Soaking the maize helps it puff up more resulting in soft maputi and the oil helps the seasoning stick better.Here is the full recipe:
- 1 lb dried maize kernels
- 4 cups water
- 2 cups peanut oil
- 3 tablespoons finely crushed salt
- Sort dried kernels and soak in water overnight.
- Drain, pat kernels dry, and let air dry about an hour.
- Heat oil to around 350 degrees.
- Add kernels, in small batches, and cook until golden brown- about 10 minutes.
- Remove and place in paper towel lined bowl and season while still warm.
- Serve warm or cold.