The story goes that our Chef, Sungani Phiri, was putting together a new tasting menu for Royal Chundu’s guests. Naturally he wanted to show off his culinary prowess and go with something that would meet international palates, something inspired by the mentors he’d worked with at The Westcliff and The Monarch hotels in Johannesburg. But his sister brought him down to earth. As only family can. She told him that people don’t want to travel across the world to a new and exciting country only to taste the same food they can find back home. They want something different. New flavours, new experiences. To taste the region. Sungani went back to his roots, the roots of Zambia, and found inspiration for a wholly unique Zambian tasting menu, featuring six dishes that echoed the land.

While creating the final course, the swan song, he quickly discovered that there was nothing to go on. Zambia, he realised, had no official dessert.

“I say ‘first official dessert’,” he continues, “because, well, there simply wasn’t one before now. Normally, Zambians will eat leftover nshima cold instead of hot with sugar and sour milk – as a form of a dessert if they want something sweet. Sometimes it actually substitutes as a main course. Nshima is a staple in most homes across the country. Made from maize meal, it’s used for breakfast, lunch or dinner.”

It was time for that to change. Sungani took to the kitchen at Royal Chundu and created what is now one of our guests’ favourite dishes – Zambia’s first official dessert, the Sour Milk Cheesecake with Musika (Tamarind) Jelly.

“I made a sour milk cheesecake using sour milk to replace the cheese. This makes the dessert much smoother. We use a tennis biscuit base to complement it. For the sour element I added tamarind jelly above the cake and a tamarind sorbet with cayenne pepper. Tamarind is rather dear to me… my mother used to drink tamarind with a dash of cayenne as a digestif when I was growing up. And considering that you’ve gone through the tasting menu’s six courses, it’s a nice way to speed up your metabolism after eating so much – despite the fact that it’s a dessert.”

“The tasting menu is a true representation of Zambian culture,” Sungani says. We thought we’d share a bit of this culture with you, and reveal the secret ingredients that go into making our landmark dish. Try your hand at it (Warning: it’s not easy) and let us know how it turns out by posting a photo to Twitter or Instagram with the hashtag #theroyalchunduexperience.

The Secret Ingredients

Sour milk mixture

  • 400ml sour milk
  • 3 tbsp icing sugar
  • 200ml plain cream cheese, or fresh cream, or sour cream
  • 100ml plain yoghurt
  • Lemon zest
  • Juice of ½ a lemon
  • 4- 6 leaves of sliced mint
  • 15g gelatine dissolved in ¼ – ½ 50ml – 100ml hot water cup
  • 100ml of sweet wine

Musika (Tamarind) pulp

  • 2lt fresh orange juice
  • 2 tbsp cayenne pepper
  • 500g Musika (Tamarind) peeled
  • 250g of sweet wine
  • 150g of castor sugar
  • I whole orange of zest

Musika Ice Cream

  • Homemade ice-cream (or a good cream or ice-cream from your local producer)

Biscuit base

  • 200g of tennis biscuits
  • 60g butter unsalted melted
  • Musika (Tamarind) jelly
  • 125g Musika (Tamarind) pulp
  • 8g gelatine dissolved in hot water


  • 100ml fresh cream
  • 2 tbsp cream cheese
  • 10g icing sugar
  • Nasturtium flowers
  • Seasonal fresh fruit: apple julienne, red and yellow plums, orange segments, nectarine
  • Mint
  • Passion fruit pulp


  1. Musika (Tamarind) pulp: Combine all ingredient together then allow in a pot the bring to a boil
  2. Reduce it by ½ half then remove the seeds from the mixture & pass through a fine sieve.
  3. Then allow it to cool & place in fridge for later.
  4. Musika Ice Cream: Combine ¾ of to ¼ of Musika (Tamarind) pulp then blend together in a food processor then place in the freezer, for about 24hrs, for a perfect texture. If you have an ice cream machine it’s even easier, to combine the mixture.
  5. Biscuit base: Crush the tennis biscuits, till its fine then add the melted butter mix together. Lay in the biscuit mixture in a cake tin with a removable base allow it to set in the fridge for 10 – 15mins.
  6. Sour Milk Mixture: Combine all the sour milk mixture together, icing sugar, cream cheese, yoghurt, lemon zest, & lemon juice, beat together then add the dissolved gelatine & place to the side. Then Pour in the sour milk mixture into the cake tin & place back in the fridge for it to set.
  7. Musika (Tamarind) Jelly: combine all ingredients & slightly cool the recipe & allow it to cool down. Then pour a line layer of the mixture over the cake & place back in the fridge.
  8. To serve: mix the fresh cream, cream cheese & icing sugar from the garnish requirements for the base. Then arrange the fruit in stylish fashion & finsh off with flowers & mint leave topped with the sugar tuile.

Above: The tamarind plant, known as “musika” in Zambia. Look out for our next blog, featuring the top five uses of this fascinating plant.