20 Popular Traditional Lesotho Foods That’s Worth Trying Out

Deborah Olayiwola
Deborah Olayiwola
Deborah is a content marketing specialist, with a passion for the food niche, she writes engaging content that celebrates the joy of food and its power to bring people together. Having worked on different projects. Her curiosity and creativity shines through in her writing.
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Lesotho, a small country nestled in Southern Africa and entirely surrounded by South Africa, is a land of stunning landscapes and rich cultural heritage. Known as “The Kingdom in The Sky” due to its towering altitudes, with the lowest point at 1,301 meters above sea level and about 80% of the country sitting above 1,800 meters, Lesotho offers not only breathtaking views but also a unique culinary experience.

The Basotho people, renowned for their peaceful and simple lives, have a food culture that reflects this simplicity—using few ingredients, straightforward cooking methods, and minimal spices. Let’s see 20 traditional Lesotho foods, categorized into appetizers, main dishes, desserts, and street foods.

20 Delectable Lesotho Foods


Roasted Maize

Roasted maize is a beloved snack among the Basotho. In the highlands, green maize cobs are roasted over hot ashes or open flames, giving them a delicious smoky flavor. In the lowlands, you can find roasted maize sold by street vendors. This snack is so popular that sharing is common, even with strangers.

Grilled Corn on the Cob

Likhobe (Boiled Maize Kernels)

If you’re in the mood for something a little more indulgent, try the roasted maize. Likhobe is a simple yet satisfying dish made by boiling dry maize kernels until they are soft and seasoned with salt. It’s a versatile snack or side dish enjoyed by many.

Main Dishes

Papa (Stiff Porridge)

Papa, a staple in almost every household, is made by boiling water and gradually adding maize meal while stirring until it reaches a thick, solid consistency. This dish is typically enjoyed with Moroho (leafy greens), but it can also be paired with meat, tinned fish, eggs, or any protein of your choice. No Basotho meal is complete without papa. Prepare to get your hands a little messy as you scoop up the thick, comforting porridge.

Moroho (Leafy Greens)

Moroho is made from various leafy greens such as spinach, cabbage, or wild herbs like stinging nettles. One popular version, Lepu, uses summer squash leaves and small squash, seasoned with salt and cooked until soft. Moroho is a must-have accompaniment to Papa.


Samp consists of dried maize kernels that have been pounded and chopped. It’s usually boiled until soft and sometimes mixed with beans. In the lowlands, people add different seasonings like Aromat or cream of mushroom soup, making it a delicious dish when served with stew, meat, or vegetables.


Nyekoe is made by cooking sorghum with beans and sometimes pumpkin or wheat. It’s a wholesome and nutritious dish that can be seasoned with just salt or more elaborate spices and vegetables for added flavor. Pair it with some freshly baked bread for a satisfying and wholesome meal.


In Lesotho, nothing goes to waste, and likahare is a prime example of this philosophy. Likahare is a hearty dish made from carefully cleaned and stewed tripe and intestines of cattle, sheep, goats, or pigs. The offal is thoroughly cleaned, boiled until soft, cut into smaller pieces, and then cooked again in its broth until it forms a thick gravy. This dish is typically enjoyed with Papa, Samp, or bread. While it might not sound appetizing to some, the Basotho have mastered the art of transforming these ingredients into a flavorful and comforting stew.

Braai (Barbecue)

No Lesotho foods experience would be complete without a good old-fashioned braai (barbeque). Influenced by neighboring South Africa, Braai involves grilling various meats over hot coals. It’s a popular choice for gatherings and is often served with Papa and Chakalaka, a spicy vegetable relish. Gather around the fire with friends and family, and enjoy the smoky flavors of grilled deliciousness.

Lekakarane (Spent Layer Chickens)

If you’re a meat lover, you’ll definitely want to try lekakarane, a dish made from spent layer chickens. Lekakarane refers to chickens that have stopped laying eggs and are best cooked with water and seasoned simply with salt. They are also sold cooked by street vendors, usually served with Papa.

Wors (South African Sausage)

Whether you enjoy them grilled or stewed, wors (South African sausages) are a must-try in Lesotho. Wors comes in two types: one for stovetop cooking and the other for grilling. It can be cooked as is or with tomato relish and other ingredients, making it a versatile dish enjoyed with Papa, rice, samp, pasta, or bread.


Although fish is considered a luxury in Lesotho, trout is one of the best fish dishes you can have. It’s often marinated with spices or stuffed with vegetables and baked, served hot with vegetables and rice.

Desserts and Beverages

Motoho (Fermented Sorghum Porridge)

Motoho is a traditional porridge made from sorghum meal and fermented with a starter culture called Tomoso. A breakfast staple in Lesotho. It’s boiled and stirred until thick, often served cold with sugar for a refreshing dessert or snack. You’ll find yourself craving it morning after morning.

Khemere (Homemade Ginger Drink)

While not technically a dessert, khemere is a refreshing ginger-based beverage that’s perfect for quenching your thirst after a hearty meal. Khemere is a homemade ginger drink made by boiling water with brown sugar, ginger powder, tartaric acid, and cream of tartar. It’s diluted with cold water and left overnight, served chilled. Some variations include adding pineapple pieces or fruit concentrates.

Joala ba Sesotho (Traditional Sesotho Beer)

No culinary journey through Lesotho would be complete without sampling the traditional Sesotho beer, joala ba Sesotho.This traditional beer is made by mixing maize meal, malt, and wheat flour, then fermenting it with a starter called Tomoso. It undergoes several stages of fermentation and boiling, resulting in a unique and refreshing beverage.

Street Foods

Liphaphatha (Pot-Roasted Bread)

Liphaphatha is another popular street food that’s sure to satisfy your carb cravings. They are small, round pieces of dough that are pot-roasted on a floured surface until golden brown. Grab a few from a vendor and enjoy them hot and crispy, perhaps with a side of slap chips (fries) and a refreshing drink.

Makoenya (Fat Cakes)

Makoenya are dough balls deep-fried until golden brown. They are enjoyed with slap chips, Atchar (spicy pickled vegetables), sausages, polony, or simply with tea and coffee. They are a popular breakfast choice sold by both fast-food restaurants and street vendors.

Chicken Feet and Heads

Chicken feet and heads are typically boiled with water and salt, but modern variations include making curries or sticky chicken feet. They are enjoyed by students and workers with Makoenya or bread.

Roasted Chicken Feet and Gizzards Kebabs

The Basotho’s nose-to-tail cooking philosophy with these unique kebabs made from roasted chicken feet and gizzards.This recent street food involves spiced and roasted chicken feet and gizzards, served on skewers. They are a popular snack among both young and old.

Lithlakoana Le Lihloho/Skopo (Sheep Feet and Heads)

A dish that celebrates the use of every part of the animal.This dish involves cooking sheep feet and heads with water and salt, often sold as cold meat by street vendors. It’s enjoyed with Papa or on its own as a snack.

Bohobe (Bread)

There are two main types of bread in Lesotho: Leqebekaone (steamed bread) and baked bread. Steamed bread is shaped into balls and steamed, while baked bread is cooked in a pot over coals or on a stove. Both types are enjoyed as a staple food.

A Culinary Journey Through Lesotho

Lesotho’s foods are reflection of its people’s simplicity and resourcefulness, using available ingredients to create nourishing and flavorful dishes. Like the comforting Papa and Moroho and the delightful street foods like Makoenya and roasted chicken feet, the flavors of Lesotho foods offer a unique and authentic taste of African culinary traditions.

If you are exploring the highlands or the lowlands, the food of Lesotho is sure to leave a lasting impression. So next time you’re in the mood for something new, why not try a traditional Basotho dish and experience the heart and soul of Lesotho’s foods culture?

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Deborah Olayiwola
Deborah Olayiwola
Deborah is a content marketing specialist, with a passion for the food niche, she writes engaging content that celebrates the joy of food and its power to bring people together. Having worked on different projects. Her curiosity and creativity shines through in her writing.

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