The Foods eaten by people of Botswana

The culinary traditions of Botswana have been shaped by its geography, available resources, and cultural influences from both indigenous communities and outside settlers. The diet has been predominantly plant-based, augmented by meats when available. Over the last 500 years, the food landscape has seen both continuity and changes. Here is an overview:


  • Sorghum and Millet: Traditionally, these grains have been important and are used to make a soft porridge known as "bogobe" or "sadza."
  • Maize: Introduced later, perhaps with European contact, maize has become an important staple used for porridge and other dishes.
  • Beans and Lentils: Consumed as a source of protein and often cooked in stews.


  • Beef: Cattle farming is an integral part of Botswana's culture, and beef is consumed in various forms, from stews to grilled meats ("braai").
  • Chicken: Usually boiled or grilled and often served with porridge or rice.
  • Fish: Consumed less frequently, generally in regions close to rivers.
  • Goat and Lamb: These meats are also part of the diet but are less common than beef.


  • Melons, Oranges, and Lemons: Commonly grown and consumed.
  • Wild Fruits: Such as "morula," often used to make traditional beer or consumed as is.


  • Leafy Greens: Such as "morogo" or wild spinach, often cooked into a stew.
  • Root Vegetables: Such as sweet potatoes and regular potatoes.
  • Tomatoes and Onions: Commonly used in stews and other dishes.


  • Groundnuts (Peanuts): Often used to make a sauce or included in stews.

Herbs and Spices:

  • Coriander, Garlic, and Ginger: Used in various dishes to add flavor.

Sweets and Desserts:

  • Vetkoek (Fat Cake): A fried dough bread.
  • Bread and Jam: Likely influenced by British colonial presence.


  • Traditional Beers: Made from sorghum or maize.
  • Tea and Coffee: Influenced by British colonial rule, but tea with milk and sugar is common.

Historical Influences:

  • Indigenous Practices: The use of wild fruits, grains like sorghum and millet, and traditional cooking methods like pit roasting have been part of Botswana's culinary history for centuries.
  • British Influence: The British colonial period brought new ingredients like potatoes, and culinary practices like tea-drinking.
  • Neighbor Influences: Countries like South Africa and Zimbabwe have similar food staples like maize porridge, and this shared food culture is evident.

While the core components—such as grains, meats, and vegetables—have remained largely consistent over the last 500 years, there have been introductions and adaptations due to colonial influence, trade, and modernization. Overall, the diet in Botswana is a mix of traditional foods and newer introductions, making for a diverse culinary landscape.

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