By Naomie Happi & Vimbai Ruvengo
The Ndeipi Team is always on the lookout for trending eat-out establishments in Harare and this traditional eatery is no exception. Although this visit was conducted before the introduction of the June 2021 lockdown restrictions, we hope that as you read through the article, you will find something to look forward to for when it will be safe to wine and dine again.
The National Handicraft Development and Marketing Centre
Ndyelo restaurant is a hidden treasure found within the heart of The National Handcraft Development and Marketing Centre, which showcases an exciting collection of Zimbabwean crafts handmade by local Artisans from around Zimbabwe. Turning into Grant street from Chinoyi street, a rich vibrancy of cultural life is pretty evident. Different artefacts such as Nsonsa bowl baskets – Handcrafted by Binga women, the Tonga Flat Wall Decorative Basket, Cisuwo (Large Tonga grain harvest basket), and a collection of various patterns of Nambiya baskets are displayed within the National Handcraft Development Centre. When touring the Centre, you will not miss the hand painted T-shirts and the beautiful fabrics printed with local monuments and symbolic crafts including the Zimbabwe bird. Tourists visiting the Handcraft Centre can purchase local artefacts and crafts as souvenirs or as gifts representing a piece of Zimbabwe.
The Centre’s building structures were constructed in 1989 and to this day are still standing. Recent renovations have, however, been ongoing to provide the building with a modern touch up. Along with this initiative came, Celia Rukato, who had a vision of celebrating the African culture through food as an extension of the Centre’s artistic scenery. Originally, the National Handcraft Centre brought people from different tribes together through its traditional carpentry and magnificent paintings, but now, with the establishment of the restaurant, the Centre has been able to join communities together through the restaurant’s Pan African cuisine.
Walking past the Centre, towards the restaurant, our eyes instantly took notice of the African wall paintings enclosing the lush and lovely garden scenery that features indigenous trees and plants, blending together to create an impressive outdoor set-up. Stepping into the restaurant we were welcomed by the charming Celia herself. The dining space is packed with handmade furniture including a beautiful Ethiopian dining table that was skillfully designed with the intention of encouraging people to musically entertain themselves as they wait for their food to be served; its dining chairs have drums attached in the middle and the table can be used as a musical stringed instrument. The walls are decorated with woven baskets and space is walled with glass windows to allow more light into the already lively area.
Ndyelo is well known for serving Nigerian and Zimbabwean dishes. The serving of these different dishes was not random, but a calculated move to create cross-cultural experiences that expose the restaurant’s guests to different African food.
“Our Authentic recipes are crafted from a deep understanding of the desires of our varied clients across Africa and the globe. Our meals are distinguished by the original African taste.”- Celia
Ndyelo makes it a statement to provide their clients with top-notch, quality food. Their kitchen experiences what one could call a touch of the selective-ingredient syndrome as they are both passionate and particular about where all of their ingredients and spices come from. The menu is unique, diverse and changes according to the day of the week. We were fortunate enough to taste a bit of everything that was on their menu for the day. As a starter, we had an appetizing goat pepper soup. Apart from it being a mouthwatering dish, the soup is made from a couple of healthy nutrients and is believed to be beneficial for treating flu and fever symptoms.
If you are feeling adventurous? Then give the Egusi Soup a Go! This tasty soup is a Nigerian classical dish that is enjoyed in various forms across West Africa. The soup is named after its star ingredient – Egusi, which is dried up protein seeds of either squash, pumpkin, melon or gourd. The soup is spicy, carries a striking nutty taste and is rich in flavour. The dish is also made with a variety of tasty meats, crayfish and green vegetables. After a few bites, it was a definite thumbs up from us. You can have this royal delicacy accompanied with Pounded Yam or Gari.
At Ndyelo you can seize the chance to eat a highly favoured and talked about dish; Jollof Rice. You will not regret trying it. Jollof Rice is an iconic dish, simmered in glossy red tomatoes, blended peppers and selective seasoning. Its exclusive sweet taste is what makes this dish a favourite. The kitchen however, prepares their version of Jollof Rice with a lot of spices so it is recommended to have a glass of milk nearby if you are not used to eating spicy food.
The dessert was a highlight, immaculate bites of the pumpkin cake left our taste buds wanting more. Make sure to order a glass of Ndyelo’s baobab smoothies to go with your food as they have many flavors in-store.
The intention of the Centre is to host a number of art exhibitions as soon as it is safe to do so, this will offer a fine-dining experience in a relaxed artistic environment. The space is industrially a la mode, chic, secure and an amazing space for kicking back in the presences of affordable, good food. The restaurant has a refreshing aura and as soon as lockdown restrictions have been lifted, it is sure to become a must visit place for lunch, exhibitions or a chill spot for wining and dining.
Images from Ndyelo Restaurant
Originally published in the 4th Ndeipi Newsletter