The colonial influence of the Portuguese on Mozambique culture is reflected in, among other things, the country's cuisine. The Portuguese introduced crops such as cassava (a starchy root), cashew nuts and dishes like pãozinho (Portuguese-style bread rolls pronounced ‘pow-zing-yo') to Mozambique. At one point in time, Mozambique was the largest producer of cashew nuts. The Portuguese also introduced seasonings such as fresh coriander, bay leaves, onions, chilli peppers, garlic, paprika, red sweet peppers and wine to local cuisine. They were also responsible for initiating the use of millet, sugarcane, maize, sorghum (a type of grass), rice, and potatoes to Mozambicans. Portuguese dishes such as pudim (pudding), espetada (kebab), Prego (steak roll), rissois (battered shrimp) and the well-liked inteiro com piripiri (whole chicken in piri piri sauce) are a central part of Mozambique cuisine today.
Despite the heavy influence of Portuguese culture, however, Mozambique restaurants are flavoured with tastes from every part of the world!
Our Mozambique Restaurant Guide below provides useful information on where to find the best food in Mozambique, as well as general information on the local dishes and cuisine of Mozambique today. Many of the best restaurants and street food in Mozambique can be found in the souks and shopping streets, perfect for taking a break whilst shopping in Mozambique.
Mozambique Restaurant Guide
Eating Out in Mozambique
Mozambique is dotted with restaurants offering cuisines from every part of the world - African, Portuguese, Lebanese, Italian, Indian and Thai. The Baixa district and Avenida Julius Nyerere in Maputo have numerous restaurants and small cafés. While on the beach front, you can visit any of the seafood restaurants in Mozambique. All are sure to serve great dishes from fresh catches. Most towns in Mozambique have a café, pastelaria or salao de cha where you can pick up some coffee, pastries, reasonably priced snacks and light meals such as omelettes, pregos and burgers. The bigger towns have restaurants across the price spectrum with more options. Throughout rural Mozambique you will find barracas, small motels situated along the roads where you can stop by for a quick, easy-on-the-pocket meal of xima and sauce.
Having ruled Mozambique for over 500 years, the Portuguese left a deep mark on Mozambique cuisine. Some of the most commonly consumed dishes in Mozambique today such as prego, rissois, espetada, inteiro com piripiri and pudim carry a distinctive Portuguese influence. The main ingredients used in local Mozambique dishes include fresh seafood, rice, millet and cassava. The popular meat dishes are steak and chicken. They are often prepared along with beans, cassava chips, cashew nuts, coconut, potatoes, garlic and peppers.
Mozambicans begin their day with a light breakfast of egg or fish sandwiches, or bread cake with tea or coffee. Lunch, which is the main meal, consists of fresh seafood specialties such as prawns, squid, crab, lobster or crayfish, served with rice and fries. These meals are well appreciated as the ingredients, mainly the seafood, are fresh.
Other popular choices are toasted cheese sandwiches, maize porridge and rice topped with sauce and among sweet dishes. Pineapple sprinkled with sugar and cashew nuts is another perennial favourite of the locals.
When it comes to beverages, Portuguese wine is one of the few ‘foreign' beverages consumed by locals. Madeira is the most popular Portuguese wine in Mozambique though some Mozambicans prefer the locally brewed beer made from maize. This local liquor is passed around in a communal pot.
Dessert is an important part of the cuisine in Mozambique. Fresh fruits such as pineapple and papaya are quite popular, as are puddings and local favourites such as small fried pastries.
The Portuguese influence on food in Mozambique is best seen in the use of wine in local dishes. For example, matata is a dish of clams cooked in port wine with finely chopped peanuts and tender young greens or fruits. Inland, another popular dish, is made from chicken coated with piri piri pepper sauce and roasted over charcoal. Caril refers to curries that are accompanied by 'hot' Manga Achar, a special mango chutney. Little dishes that are served alongside caril include chopped peanuts, coconut, cucumber and bananas. These dishes are similar to the chutneys (relishes) of India. With a long coastline, Mozambique is famed for its seafood such as shellfish, lobster, shrimp and prawns - often stated to be the most delicious in the world.
For our top Mozambique restaurant recommendations, check out our Eating Locally section.