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Mopani worm pancakes anyone? Whip up your fave meal using this delicacy

Local entrepreneur inspired by her Tsonga roots is using mopani worms to create a range of food products

03 March 2022 - 08:37
Mopani worm pancakes.
Mopani worm pancakes.
Image: Supplied

The first day of March may have come and gone but who can forget it was international pancake day with the plethora of different versions of pancake recipes bouncing about on the net.

The most innovative and incredulous is the one made from mopani worm flour. They are produced by local entrepreneur Wendy Vesela-Ntimbani who is the founder of Matomani, a company whose speciality is a range of handpicked mopani worms, stone-ground mopani flour and mopani biscuits. Who would have thought that a worm could be turned into such creative products?

Vesela-Ntimbani, who was raised in Limpopo, says mopani worms have been an integral part of her childhood and she recalls learning the art of harvesting them together with her parents when they’d go deep into the mopani forests and collect the worms — and the traditional mopani-based meals they enjoyed.

Highly nutritious, mopani worms contain about 60% protein and are rich in iron, calcium and phosphorus, but for many the thought of eating worms just doesn’t cut the mustard. But Vesela-Ntimbani had the creative idea of turning the worm into more than the dried version and developed a range of products, a stone-ground flour and even biscuits — all out of the worms.

Wendy Vesela-Ntimbani, the founder of Matomani,
Wendy Vesela-Ntimbani, the founder of Matomani,
Image: Supplied

Says Vesela-Ntimbani: “Entomophagy, the practice of eating insects, is becoming more relevant than ever as we face food insecurity and the rising cost of animal protein.”

It is her belief that with the highly sustainable food source she can establish a strong relationship between the mopani worm and the cultivating communities as we become more environmentally conscious and look for meat alternatives.

And how to do that? Vesela-Ntimbani is making her products more accessible by selling them through her website which carries a selection of recipes — and I share the pancake one below for you to try out. 


Start your day with these delicious and healthy protein-rich pancakes.


50g mopani worm flour

75g cake flour

15ml (1 tbsp) olive oil

30ml (2 tbsp) melted butter

1 egg

150 — 200ml milk

5ml (1 tsp) vanilla extract

Vegetable oil for frying


Seasonal berries, syrup or honey


  1. Sift the two flours into a bowl.
  2. Combine the olive oil, melted butter, egg, milk and vanilla extract together then slowly add to the flour mixture and mix until smooth.
  3. Heat a non-stick pan and add a little splash of oil, pouring off the excess. Spoon mixture into pan and cook for a few minutes until set. Loosen the edges with a spatula and flip over and cook for further 30 seconds.
  4. Serve warm garnished with berries, syrup or honey and your choice of toppings.

• See: Matomani.com


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