Malawian Sweet Potato and Sim-Sim Balls Recipe


Malawi is a geographically diverse landlocked African country with a massive glittering lake, the third largest in Africa. Lake fish are plentiful and form an important source of food as do a variety of vegetables, maize-based nsima, rice, cassava, and sweet potatoes. Sim-Sim (sesame) balls are finger food consisting mainly of sweet potato with cinnamon for spice. Sesame seeds provide the crispy coating on the outside. This recipe includes cheese for piquancy.


Recipe by: GOLD Restaurant
Makes: 40 Sim-Sim balls (ideal as a snack food)
Difficulty: Easy
Preparation: 30 minutes
Cooking: 30 minutes


T = tablespoon
t = teaspoon

  • 3 large sweet potatoes peeled
  • ½ cup water
  • 5 t sugar (white or brown)
  • 1 t salt 2 t cinnamon
  • 2 t mixed spice
  • 6 t corn flour
  • 200g grated cheese
  • ¾ cup white sesame seeds
  • Vegetable oil for frying


  1. Roughly cut the sweet potato into chunks.
  2. Simmer the sweet potato and water in a covered pot over a low heat.
  3. The sweet potato should be soft and dry when cooked.
  4. Remove from the heat, remove the lid, and leave to cool.
  5. Add the sugar, salt, cinnamon and mixed spice, and mash.
  6. Add the corn flour if the mixture is too soft – some sweet potato varieties retain more water than others.
  7. Lastly, add the grated cheese.

To shape the Sim-Sim balls:

  1. Scoop out the mixture into your palms and roll into walnut-sized balls.
  2. Coat each ball with sesame seeds – continue rolling the sesame seeds onto the outside of the ball.
  3. so that they stick and cover the surface area.
  4. Repeat the rolling until all the mixture has been used.

To cook the Sim-Sim balls:

  1. Heat the oil in a pot over a medium heat until hot but not smoking.
  2. Gently deep-fry the balls until golden brown.
  3. Drain on paper towel.

Tip: For a sweeter variation leave out the cheese and add more sugar.

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