In this case umphokoqo is a dish fit for the former president- uTata Nelson Mandela.  Well, according to Anna Trapido, the author of Hunger for Freedom, this is TaTa’s favourite dish and he likes it served with sour milk from iselwa (calabash).

It’s true when they say you can leave the rural life and go to the city but your roots will never leave you.  That’s the case with Umphokoqo, better known as African salad.  It is a dish best served in the Summer and does not require much preparation. This dish is versatile in that Xhosas serve it with sour milk whereas Zulus and Sothos serve it with stew.

Now let me take you through my experience with this dish……

Growing up on a farm cows were milked everyday and that meant we ate Umphokoqo on a daily basis. We had it for breakfast, lunch and supper.  It was dished up in a big bowl and four children had to share two spoons i.e. two boys and two girls.  There was a big competition you had to eat pretty fast and pass the spoon, the boys used to beat us.  As you can imagine boys eat faster than girls.  Because I had it everyday I just hated it as a teenager and as a young adult.  However, I have recently made a conscious decision to start eating umphokoqo again……….whenever I think of this dish I just remember the good times on the farm.


Umphokoqo Recipe

Serves: 3

700ml mealie meal

575ml water, boiling

7.5 ml salt

5 ml butter / margarine (optional)



1. Boil the water with a kettle and add to a medium saucepan.

2. Continue boiling the water in the pan and add mealie meal.  Stir with a fork until mixed and cover with a lid.

3. Let simmer and continue stirring at 5 minute intervals.  Cook for 30 minutes at stove setting 2.

4. Transfer to a big bowl and shake the umphokoqo up and down to cool it down.  Serve with milk or sour milk.  For extra flavour   and richness, add 2 tablespoons of cream.

 Thuli’s Tip: A lot of people who love umphokoqo also love intshela (foundation), so when cooking this lovely dish try not to scorch the foundation otherwise your family will be very upset with you!  It’s very nice with milk especially when it’s still warm mmmmmm!J

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