The staple food in Zambia is a thick cornmeal mash called "nshima". Some Zambians feel that a meal is not complete without it. Other basics such as rice, potatoes or pasta are merely substitutes for this popular dish. To prepare "nshima", women in rural areas pound dried white maize kernels into a fine meal using a large mortar and pestle. In the city, people buy ground cornmeal in stores. For breakfast, Zambians may serve "nshima" thinned with water or milk and sweetened slightly with sugar. For lunch or supper, people usually eat "nshima" with fish, meat, peanuts or beans. "Nshima na nkuku" is a popular chicken dish.
Other common foods are sorghum and millet (cereal grains), cassava (a starchy rootstock), sweet potatoes and groundnuts (peanuts). Zambians use onions and tomatoes in soups and relishes, and the leaves of beans, okra, cow peas, pumpkins and cassava for greens. Bananas and mangoes grow well in many parts of the country.