Madombi (Botswanan Dumplings)

Steamed Madombi

Freda Muyambo

  • Total: 45 mins
  • Prep: 20 mins
  • Cook: 25 mins
  • Proving Dough: 45 mins
  • Yield: 8 to 10 Dumplings

Madombi, a national favorite from Botswana, is a type of steamed bread that is cooked and usually eaten with a stew. Otherwise known as dumplings, these fluffy wheat buns are great for soaking up the juices of hearty soups and saucy chicken or beef preparations. Commonly seen in most Botswanan meals, these buns are easy to make, filling to eat, and will be a new favorite on your menu once you give them a try.

Since the buns are steamed in a stew, you need to prepare a good stew recipe ahead of time in which you can place your madombi dough.


  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 6 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 1/3 cups warm water (1 part boiling mixed with 2 parts cold)
  • Optional: 1 teaspoon oil

Steps to Make It

Make the Dough

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. Sift the flour into a bowl.

  3. Add the baking powder, salt, instant yeast, and sugar to the flour. Mix all the dry ingredients together.

  4. Gradually add the warm water to the dry ingredients.

  5. Give the madombi mixture a stir to initially incorporate the water to form a dough.

  6. Once the mixture has formed a sticky dough, use your hands to continue mixing the dough and initiate the kneading process.

  7. Place the dough on a floured surface. Begin to knead and stretch the dough for at least 10 minutes until smooth and elastic. The sticky bits on your hands will incorporate themselves into the dough as you knead and stretch.

  8. Once the dough is smooth and elastic, if using the optional teaspoon of oil, grease a bowl and place the dough in it. Cover the dish with a damp cloth and allow it to proof for 45 minutes in a warm area. After 45 minutes your dough should have doubled in size.

  9. Once the dough is pillowy to the touch, divide it into 6 to 8 portions, or more if you want to make smaller buns. Keep in mind the portions will more than double in size.

Steam the Dumplings

  1. At this point, your stew should be close to ready but have at least 30 minutes of cooking time left. Place the dough balls on top of the stew, and push the dumplings into the stew about halfway. Cover the pot and allow the dough to steam over medium heat for 25 minutes. 

  2. After 25 minutes you will have large cooked balls of ​madombi that are firm and shiny. The madombi are now ready.

  3. Depending on how large you made the madombi dough balls, you may choose to cut them in half or serve a whole one per person.

  4. Enjoy!

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