Amankolobwe is the local name for small, round, spikey cucumbers (Cucumis spp.), both cultivated and wild. It is a typical food in the Bemba, Chewa, Nsenga, Tumbuka, and other communities in northern and eastern Zambia, as well as neighboring Malawi. It is usually harvested in April and May, just after the rainy season and following the maize harvest. The fruits are sun dried in order to preserve them, and then consumed over the following months. The seeds are not eaten. Dried amankolobwe is often prepared for special occasions, especially weddings, and otherwise can be used as a vegetable or as a substitute for meat in times of scarcity (its texture and flavor recall dried meat). It is usually cooked with groundnuts (an excellent source of protein) and served with nshima, the local staple, made from white cornmeal. Amankolobwe is rich in vitamins and minerals.
Amankolobwe used to be gathered from the wild but today it is also cultivated, as it has become more difficult to find growing wild: Though various wild cucumbers are common and often used throughout tropical Africa, they have declined in many agricultural areas because of intensive cultivation and the widespread use of herbicides. Amankolobwe is mostly harvested and prepared for household consumption, though it is sometimes available from local markets.