Fried Kapenta

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Howdy Folks! 🙂

Today we tackle another Zambian delicacy called Kapenta! Also known as the ‘Tanganyika Sardine’ these small fish are native to Lake Tanganyika, but are also present in other lakes in Southern Africa like Lake Malawi, Lake Kariba and Cahora Bassa.

Once caught in huge, wide nets, Kapenta is usually preserved by sun drying and sold in many formal and informal markets in the region. Though Fresh Kapenta is also popular, it is mainly sold in Supermarkets and such – along the line of rail, as it requires refrigeration.

Not only is Kapenta a very economical source of protein, it is also a tasty and much-loved delicacy in these parts. Below is my recipe for fried, dried Kapenta that I hope you will try and enjoy.

Here goes! 😉

Fried Kapenta

Recipe by LubayaCourse: Fish and Seafood, Recipes and Food things…, Traditional Zambian Dishes


Prep time


Cooking time




  • 300g Dried Kapenta

  • 1 Large Tomato

  • 1 large purple Onion

  • 1 Medium Green Pepper

  • 1/4 Teaspoon Chili Powder (Optional)

  • 1/4 Teaspoon Salt

  • 1/4 Teaspoon Smoked Paprika or Curry Powder

  • 2 1/2 Tablespoons of Vegetable oil


  • The first step is to sort through the Kapenta for any solid dirt – sticks, grass…anything like that. These must be removed.
  • Then, heat up a pan and gently dry roast your Kapenta for about 5-10 minutes, turning frequently. This isn’t to cook the Kapenta, per se but to remove the small sharp bits including the silver stripe that can make Kapenta hard to eat.
  • After this step, proceed to wash the Kapenta in cold water, twice through.
  • The Kapenta is now ready to be fried. Make sure to drain away any excess water.
  • Rinse and dry the pan, and then heat up the oil. Once hot, add your Kapenta to the pan, and sprinkle with salt.
  • Turning frequently, fry on Med- High heat until they are crisp and Golden brown.
  • Next, chop up your onions and the green pepper.
  • Move your Kapenta to one side of the pan and begin to fry these simultaneously.
  • After about 3 minutes, combine everything together.
  • Next up is seasonings 🙂 Usually this is where most folks would add curry powder. But having grown up on that, I decided to venture off into a different direction in my adult years lol, and typically use other spices. E.g Chili powder and smoked paprika. Ya’ll don’t know the fire in this! 😉
  • Season as desired, but 1/4 Teaspoon of each would do 😉
  • Add your tomatoes, chopped or grated. I prefer to grate, as they cook quicker and the juice means I won’t have to add any water at a later stage to make gravy.
  • Combine well and allow to cook for 2-3 minutes. This is just to cook the tomato and coat the Kapenta well. Overcooking will make the Kapenta soggy. We don’t want that.
  • After this, your dish is ready to eat! 🙂
  • Had mine with Nshima and Rape. Yummy 🙂

After reading to the end...what do you think? :-)