RECIPE: Masonja (Mopane Worm) Salad – Take Your Tastebuds On An Adventure!


Back in the day when I was a student, a Shangaan classmate brought a packet of dried mopane worms from home after the school holidays.  She sent it to the class for everyone to have a look and taste….

If my memory serves me well, about one or two of my classmates had the courage to taste the dry worms.  A few years later I visited the same classmate in Joburg, she and her friend prepared pap and a mopane worm relish for me.  I was freaked out throughout the entire cooking process.  Come on now, I’m Xhosa and in my culture, we don’t eat mopane worms.  Anyways, they finished cooking and dished up.  I was running late for a flight to Cape Town but what they did, they packed the food in a container for me.

When I got to Cape Town I showed my sisters and a friend the padkos.  Haha! You should have seen their faces.  The friend tasted and she actually enjoyed the meal, that’s only when I developed the courage to try the dish.

You find them available from the street vendors on the side of the road and from some shops in Joburg and Mpumalanga.  I decided to buy a few packets.  After buying the stuff I didn’t know how to cook it.  However, I followed instructions from a few friends to make up my own version of a mopane worm dish.

Some people get excited when you show them a packet of Mopane Worms.  For an example, I showed them to my neighbours, a couple from DRC and they were thrilled they ended up asking for at least one packet.  Apparently, the mopane worms are a delicacy in their country, I listened to their stories as they eagerly illustrated how they would pick them from a tree, dunk them into boiling hot water then eat them.  They prepared the “sheni” as they call the mopane worms with some dried fish and peanut butter.

The explorer in me needed to come up with a way to prepare them so that I can enjoy them and then decided on a salad dish.  The mopane worms are different to what I’m used to but you get used to them.  Besides they are one of our indigenous ingredients, not only that they are also good for you. They are nutritious, high in protein, also contain iron, calcium and phosphorus.  Ok, that’s my way of preparing mopane worms, how do you prepare them?


Masonja (Mopane Worm) Salad
Masonja (Mopane Worm) Salad


Mopane Worm Salad Recipe



15ml (1tbsp) olive oil

onion, chopped

tomato paste



coarse black pepper

1 serano chilli, chopped

1 garlic clove, chopped

For the Salad

1 baby cos lettuce

cocktail tomatoes halved

feta cheese, crumbled

cucumber, sliced

onion rings, optional

watercress leaves


  1. Soak the Mopane Worms in water until they are soft ~ I soaked them in boiling water to speed up the process.
  2. After soaking, cook them in boiling water.
  3. In a saucepan, heat the oil and sauté the onion, garlic.
  4. Add the cooked mopane worms and the rest of the ingredients.
  5. Salad:  mix the mopane worms with the salad ingredients.
  6. Serve with a dressing.

Thuli’s Tips:

Add a bit of bicarbonate of soda while cooking the worms, it yields to softer results.






About Author


Thuli Gogela is a Food Technologist with 8 years of experience developing products in food manufacturing. She is dedicated to discovering wholesome traditional dishes and recipes with a distinctive taste from different parts of the African continent. Thuli is well known for her food blog, Mzansi Style Cuisine which was established in 2010. She saw a gap in the traditional food market that people were hungry for. From there, it didn’t take long to build her brand. In 2013, she started writing a recipe column for the Cape Times for and has collaborated with some of the biggest brands in South Africa namely, Knorr, Nedeburg Wines, First Choice and Spekko rice. Not only does Thuli feature traditional African dishes, she’s also open to developing recipes, food consultations and brand collaborations.

Comments ( 8 )

  • chefnoks

    this is too cool. i have never tried them yet – the chef in me cant wait to, but the zulu in me is kinda grossed out by just the thought lol.
    very lovely blog girl


    • Thanks for your comment Chef Noks and welcome!! Trust me it took a while to get used to them but once you get used to eating them they are really not bad.

  • Sandra

    Where can I buy dried mopane works here in Durban? Does anyone know of a contact or store?

    • Hi Sandra,

      I posted your question on my facebook page and twitter, however, no one has responded yet. Personally, I have no idea. Hopefully, someone will see your comment and respond!


    • Anonymous

      Look at the taxi ranks

  • Jacobina

    I’m so curious to try the salad out

    • Go ahead and satisfy your curiosity Jacobina. Let me know how it turns out 🙂

Post a Comment