How to Make Madombi (Dumplings)

Madombi (Dumplings)

The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

Prep: 20 mins
Cook: 30 mins
Rise Time: 45 mins
Total: 95 mins
Servings: 12 to 16 servings
Yield: 8 dumplings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
90 Calories
0g Fat
19g Carbs
3g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 12 to 16
Amount per serving
Calories 90
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 0g 0%
Saturated Fat 0g 0%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 383mg 17%
Total Carbohydrate 19g 7%
Dietary Fiber 1g 3%
Total Sugars 1g
Protein 3g
Vitamin C 0mg 0%
Calcium 106mg 8%
Iron 1mg 7%
Potassium 30mg 1%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Madombi, a national favorite from Botswana, is a type of steamed dumpling usually eaten with stew. A heartwarming stew is a comfort food staple, and makes a well-balanced meal with these easy, hearty dumplings. The dumplings are large, and can easily serve up to 16 when cut in half. If you have already prepared and cooked your stew, or you want the dumplings for leftovers, they may be cooked separately in boiling water or broth.

Madombi would go well with other African-style stews, such as Moroccan goat stew, Congolese spinach stew, or an Ethiopian doro wat chicken stew. Or enjoy them with a classic beef stew, coq au vin, or lamb stew.

"These big dumplings were easy to prepare and cooked perfectly atop a bubbling pot of beef stew. I had 2 extra dumplings that wouldn't fit in the pan so I brought a pan with about 1 cup of beef broth to a boil and cooked them in that." —Diana Rattray

Botswana madombi for stew
A Note From Our Recipe Tester


  • 3 cups (425 grams) all-purpose flour, plus more for kneading

  • 2 tablespoons baking powder

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt

  • 2 teaspoons instant dry yeast

  • 2 teaspoons sugar

  • 300 milliliters (10 ounces) warm water

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Madombi (Dumplings) ingredients

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  2. Sift flour into a large bowl.

    Sift flour into a large bowl

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  3. Add remaining dry ingredients, and whisk to combine.

    dry ingredients in a bowl

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  4. Slowly stream the warm water into the bowl with the dry ingredients, and stir with a fork to bring the dough together.

    dough in a bowl

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

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

    mix dough with hands

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  6. Lightly flour your worktop in order to prevent the dough from sticking to it. Remove the dough from the bowl and place onto the floured surface. Begin to knead the dough, stretching it as well in the process. Knead dough for a minimum of 10 minutes until smooth and elastic.

    knead dough on floured surface

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  7. Kneading is complete when dough is no longer sticky to the touch. Place the dough back into the bowl. You may oil the bowl prior to placing the dough into it if you prefer to prevent it sticking to the bowl. Cover the dish with a damp cloth and allow to rise for 45 minutes in a warm area.

    dough in a bowl, covered with a kitchen towel

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  8.  After 45 minutes your dough should have doubled in size.

    dough in a bowl

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  9. Divide the dough into 6 to 8 portions or more. Each portion will more than double in size as it cooks.

    dough balls on a floured surface

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  10. To cook, place the dough balls on top of a stew at least 30 minutes prior to the stew being ready. Push the dumplings into the stew till about halfway, cover and allow to steam over medium heat for 25 minutes. 

    place the dough balls on top of a stew in a pot

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  11. After 25 minutes you will have large cooked balls of ​madombi with a firm and shiny surface on top and stew soaked underneath. The madombi is now ready to serve and enjoy!

    Madombi (Dumplings) in a pot

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck


  • To avoid tough dumplings, add just enough flour to your hands and kneading board to keep them from sticking.
  • Prior to placing the kneaded dough back in the bowl to proof, you can oil the bowl with a bit of neutral cooking oil, to prevent it from sticking to the bowl.
  • Depending on how large you made the madombi dough balls, you may choose to serve them cut in half or as a whole.
  • The dumplings can be served with beef stew or chicken potpie, or any stew of your liking.
  • The recipe makes approximately 27 ounces of dough.

Recipe Variations

  • The dumplings may be cooked separately in water or broth. Add about 1 inch of water or broth and 2 teaspoons of vegetable oil to a pan and bring it to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low, add the uncooked dumplings, and cover the pan. Cook the dumplings for about 25 minutes. Check them every 5 minutes or so and add more water or broth if needed.
  • While not traditional, fresh herbs may be kneaded into the dough for extra flavor and color. Try adding fresh chopped parsley, chives, or thyme leaves to the dumplings.

How to Store Madombi

  • Refrigerate the madombi dumplings either separately or with the stew within 2 hours and eat within 3 to 4 days.
  • To freeze madombi, arrange them on a baking sheet and freeze until solid. Place the frozen madombi in a zip-close freezer bag or airtight container and freeze for up to 3 months. Cook them from frozen on stew, on a pot pie, or in water or broth.