Recipe: Coated and Fried Matemba / Kapenta Fish (Dried White Bait)

I had a small bag of Kapenta fish aka Matemba (White Bait) collecting dust in my cupboard begging to be prepared.   The matembas in my cupboard reminded me of delicious coated and fried white bait I had at the launch of Mondiall Burger Bar late last year, see image below.

Slider with alias WhiteBait not found.


I also remembered a Zimbabwean friend (Rumbi) once mentioned that it is dipped into eggs and coated with seasoned flour then fried.  That is served as a snack and you usually find it at hotel receptions in Zimbabwe.   I thought, why not?  It sounds easy enough.   I prepared them and enjoyed the crunchiness, see featured image.  They make for a good snack I must say.  Though, it helped having a chilled watermelon to wash down the fishy taste.  Get to try them and let me know what you think!  Enjoy!


Coated and Fried Matemba / Kapenta Fish (Dried White Bait) 


35g dried matemba

Boiling water

2 eggs, beaten

200ml cake flour

5ml (1tsp) Cajun spice

5ml (1tsp) Portuguese chicken spice

2.5ml (½tsp) dried organum

2ml turmeric

Black pepper, to taste

Oil, for frying

Lemon juice, for drizzling




  1. Soak the matemba in boiling water for about 10 minutes.
  2. While waiting for that, transfer the egg into a wide bottomed dish. Set aside.
  3. Mix flour with spices, origanum, turmeric and black pepper.   Transfer this mixture onto a plate.
  4. Remove from the water and dunk in the eggs. Coat the egg-dunked matembas.
  5. In a saucepan, heat oil and fry the coated matembas. Keep turning them to ensure all sides have been cooked.
  6. Transfer the cooked matembas on a kitchen towel to drain the oil.
  7. Drizzle with lemon juice and serve as a snack.


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 ( 2 )

  • Sonia Cabano

    Looks great, Thuli! I love crispy, deep-fried whitebait, but know what you mean with that ‘fishy’ taste. It’s quite strong! Where do you get dried matemba from in Cape Town? You must take me to the African food shops!

    • Hi Somia,

      I kept some for my friends and they really enjoyed them! I think I got mine from a Zimbabwean friend about two years ago. I’ll find out where we can get them around CT. Let me know when you would like a tour. I’ll also get you to try out a Nigerian soup, Egusi 🙂


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