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The term mazondo is a Shona word which translates to cow heels or cow feet. Cow heels are often stewed to make a dish also known as neat’s foot. However, cow heels are a common delicacy in Zimbabwe and they are popular among men since they believe, cow’s feet are an aphrodisiac. Cow heels have a number of benefits to one’s body be it a male or female and they can be served with sadza or as a stew on its own.


Benefits of Mazondo

One of the ways of preparing mazondo is smoldering them. When smoldered, cow heels produce a jelly and in it is a substance which powers digestive juices against stomach bugs that will be attached to the walls of the intestines. Research shows that cow heel soup improves brain function and mental health also.

Cow heels also contain minerals which are important to the body. Theses minerals include calcium, which is useful in controlling pain, inflammation, irritability, muscle spasms, allergies, rickets and brittle nails. Cow heels are also beneficiary to the elderly as they have a high content of calcium which helps in any situation that creates bone loss; be it aging, post menopause or immobilization. Stewed cow heels are not only rich in calcium but in other minerals such as silicon, Vitamin A and K, iron, fatty acids, zinc, selenium, sulphur, magnesium and phosphorus which all dissolve into the mazondo stew. These minerals exist in a form that can easily be absorbed by the body, thus, when one consumes the cow heel soup, he or she attains those minerals.

When stewed, mazondo yield collagen, which is a solution to leaking gut lining. A leaking gut causes neurological disorders, allergies and autism. The collagen found in the cow heel broth, therefore acts as a balm that seals the gut lining.

Mazondo have been a part of the Zimbabwean diet for ages and the best cow heels have no spice or flavor added to it. They are simply boiled in salty water; their flavor comes from the marrow inside the bones. However, it has been proven that when a few spices are added to the broth, it opens up airways better than water does. This means that mazondo can act as a chief remedy for dire illnesses such as flu and cold.

They are also rich in proteins, hence they provide with fiber and elastin which are essential for proper joint formation and strengthening tendons. When they are properly boiled, cow heels produce gelatin which consists of amino acids as well as a connective tissue which contribute to stock’s healing properties; these properties make mazondo a good remedy for arthritis.

Another debatable benefit of eating mazondo is that they are an aphrodisiac, enhancing couples’ sexual performances. This has been a common belief in Zimbabwe since time immemorial. However, scientists are yet to prove this notion, though they have agreed to cow heels providing a placebo effect.

The broth made from cow heels has often been recommended for curing hangovers; which is why one will find men feasting on sadza with cow heel stew early in the morning. Research has also shown that cow heel stew provides a dense connective tissue which when taken a lot leads to a smooth and elastic skin. It also helps the body heal wounds faster.

How to Prepare Cow Heels (Mazondo)

Cow heels are prepared in many different ways. Here are other ways of preparing them.


  • Cow feet / Mazondo
  • Onions
  • Red bell pepper
  • Scallions
  • Habanero pepper
  • Bouillon powder
  • Smoked Paprika
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Thyme
  • Ground crayfish / coconut aminos
  • Salt
  • Olive oil
  • Arrowroot powder

Instant Pot Method

  • First turn your instant pot to saute mode.
  • Add your olive oil to the pot, then add chopped onions too.
  • Allow them to cook for five minutes then add half a cup of water.
  • Add your bouillon powder, ground crayfish, cayenne pepper, salt, smoked paprika and thyme

You can use coconut aminos in place of ground crayfish or you can just leave it out if you don’t have it.

  • Add the cow heels and stir until the cow heels are well coated.
  • Wait for three to four minutes before pouring in 4 more cups of water. This should be enough water to cover the cow heels.
  • Place the instant pot lid back on and switch to manual mode; setting to 30 minute on high pressure.
  • Chop the red bell peppers and scallions while you wait for the instant pot timer to go off.
  • Once it goes off, turn the instant pot to saute mode and add the chopped red bell peppers and a full habanero so as to add enough heat and flavor to the dish. Leave it to cook for 10 minutes.
  • To thicken mix two teaspoons of arrowroot powder and a tablespoon of water and make a slurry.
  • Pour this mixture into the cow feet soup and allow it to cook until it thickens.

If you like your cow heels tough, quick release the pressure immediately when done and if you like them soft, allow the instant pot to release the pressure all the way; this way your cow heels will become tender that they will be falling off the bone naturally.

  • Garnish with scallions and serve while hot and tasty.

An instant pot will cut your time to approximately 70 minutes.

Stovetop Method

When using a stovetop, you apply the same instructions used for the instant pot. However, since a stovetop requires the cow heels to be cooked for 3 to 4 hours, you will have to watch the pot closely, stirring from time to time so that it does not stick and burn at the bottom of the pot. You will also need to replenish the water as it dries out.

Slow Cooker/ Crockpot Method

For the slow cooker, you also follow the instructions given above but allow the cow heels to cook for 6 hours.

Are Cow Heels Gluten-free?

Cow heels have no carbohydrates at all, hence, they are gluten-free. Four ounces of cow heels contain 20g of protein and 25g of fat only. The high fats help one feel full for longer.