RECIPE: Umphokoqo – A Dish Fit For A President


In this case, umphokoqo (crumbled maize meal) 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 every day 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 every day 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 African Salad
Umphokoqo onamasi eselwa (with sour milk from a calabash)

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

About Author


Thuli Gogela is a Food Technologist with 8 years of experience developing products in food manufacturing. She is dedicated to discovering wholesome traditional dishes and recipes with a distinctive taste from different parts of the African continent. Thuli is well known for her food blog, Mzansi Style Cuisine which was established in 2010. She saw a gap in the traditional food market that people were hungry for. From there, it didn’t take long to build her brand. In 2013, she started writing a recipe column for the Cape Times for and has collaborated with some of the biggest brands in South Africa namely, Knorr, Nedeburg Wines, First Choice and Spekko rice. Not only does Thuli feature traditional African dishes, she’s also open to developing recipes, food consultations and brand collaborations.

Comments ( 25 )

  • I love this – we know it as putu pap. 🙂 My mom often makes this for us as a weekend breakfast treat – served with milk and salt (yes salt – so good!).

    • admin

      Your mom sounds like a real South African woman, I like her already! I would love to see the recipe on your blog…please share 🙂

  • Amos

    Mmmmh! Umphokoqo namasi… That was my favourite dish when I was growing up, and still is. There were four of us and a big bowl of it. We did “racing” in spoons, our young brother would pick up the dish and run away with it, saying the little left is for the young one.

  • Amos

    Umphokoqo namasi, mmmmh! That was my favorite as I grew up, and still is. When I want it, you can have your well prepared dishes and give me that. When I grew up, my mom would give it to us(four brothers) a big bowl. And when there is little left our young brother would take the bowl and ran away with it saying, “the little left is for the young one”

  • Xoli

    still one of my favourite dishes – especially in summer. I can have it twice in one week. i remember growing up when we didnt have sour milk – we used irhewu for uvuba, so its name would be called umcuku not umvubo – love both but i now prefer umvubo lol.

    • I’ve never tasted Umcuku I’ll give it a try one of these days. Thanks for your comment!

  • Vuyokazi

    I love this dish it’s easy and quick to prepare. I normally enjoy it in summer when it’s too hot to stand long in front of a stove.

  • I loved reading your memories, thanks for sharing! I love the intshela cold, spread with butter….so good! 🙂

    • Its a pleasure Linda! I never thought of having intshela with butter…I’ll give it a try…thanks for your comments!:-)

  • nazz

    Mieliepap… thats what it is. I love it except with the sour milk, sometimes mix in a bit of strawberry jam. The African names for the dishes makes it a bit daunting to try but once you go through the recipe and make it yourself it is absolutely delicious. I’ll be coming back to your blog to check for more interesting recipes. Keep it up.

    • Hi Nazz, thank you for visiting and commenting! Mielie pap – I thought about using the term however I felt it might be confusing. For instance some grew up exposed to three types of mielie pap namely the soft porridge (Isidudu) the soft one with a consistency of a custard. Its eaten for breakfast and we usually have it with milk, sugar and vinegar, peanut butter etc. Then there’s the stiff pap (Umqa), which is usually eaten with your chakalakas, meat etc. Last but not least we have the course pap (umphokoqo /phutu). I understand the african names may be daunting but I also think its important that we use them for clarity and to avoid confusion because they are specific. It is very interesting to hear how different cultures consume and prepare the different kinds of pap.

  • babs

    Wow, Thuli I am truly enjoying your website!!! All these dellicious dishes and all the memories that come with them remind me of home, family and being xhosa! I’m now married to a venda man and introducing these traditional xhosa dishes to my kids and in laws are always filled with shock, confusion and ultimately delight at these meals.

    Loving your blog so much, keep it up!

    • Hey Babs! I’m glad you are enjoying the site 🙂 We’ll be showcasing the Venda dishes as well…I’m sure your family will love them!

  • sue

    My mum also loves having this dish with Maas…she also sprinkles a bit of sugar and extra butter when eating……………..I’m Indian and the Indians of my parents generation were too poor to afford wheat or rice, so they lived on maize flour, samp, mealie rice…..and i love these mealie based foods too.

    We also love that dish of pumpkin leaves prepared with ground nuts and ground mealies. Yum.

  • Nefertiti

    Hi Thuli. What a great site you have!!! I can’t wait trying out the vetkoek and lamb and dumpling stew recipes. I also grew up with mielie pap – all three versions of it! I especially remember eating phutu pap (krummel pap) with my grandma. We used to add loads of butter and sugar – no milk. Thanks for bringing back some fond memories.

  • Sonnia

    My grandparents fed it to us with grated tomatoes and soft boiled eggs all mixed together with salt and white pepper……have made it for my husband and he is hooked.

  • Anel

    hi, we know it as “krummelpap” and had it a lot with friends on their Karoo farm. The Xhosa Mama’s in the kitchen cooked this on the coal stove and also added whole corn to it. Then we would add (!!): milk, sugar, cheese and butter. I couldn’t stop before the 3rd helping. THOSE WERE THE BEST DAYS!!

    • Hi Anel, thanks for visiting, It looks like they were the best days indeed lol! I should give that combination a try:-)

  • Maxine


    Phuthu pap and fresh milk (straight from the cow, an hour ago) takes me back to weekends spent at my cousin’s farm in KZN.

    When I really want to impress my husband, I make phutu pap with ‘Braai Pap Mielie Meal’ on the weekend, braai pap adds another dimension to the phutu pap. It’s coarser than super and special maize meal. The rough texture is what makes it so special. The left overs are warmed up the next day in the microwave.

    • Hi Maxine,

      Thanks for your comment. I’ve never tried the braai pap mielie meal, infact I’ve never even seen it at retail stores. I’ll be on the look out for it. Thanks for the suggestion!

  • June

    I was brought up on Xhosa dishes I was born and lived in Lusikisiki till I was 20. My mother was also born there . We always had maas but with ground mabela corn. It was delicious. I also loved mealie bread that was steamed with the mealie leaves. I love hearing about all the dishes but having lived many years on a farm in KZN and today have a birthday and I am 79 so some of the names have become just a memory.

    • Hi June,

      Thank you for stopping by. You may have forgotten the names of the dishes but your descriptions are perfect. As someone who also grew up on a farm, I would say you had a culturally rich upbringing and memories to cherish forever. I hope you had a fabulous birthday! To get to 79 is such a blessing. Give me a shout if there’s a specific recipe you are looking for.

      Thuli XX

  • I was brought up on a dairy farm in PE & we also ate pap every day with sour milk from a calabash. I had a calabash that went with me everywhere, even to Mozambique on holiday! I cannot imagine a day in my life without having sour milk. I just wish I could find another calabash, as mine was dropped & broke. Sour milk is just different from a calabash, so divine! My kids also love it. They are 37yrs old.

    • Hi Margie,

      Thank you for your comment. <3 Thank you for sharing. I love how different we think we are yet our stories are so similar. 🙂 When I find someone who sells them I will make sure to drop you an email. Btw: your kids are my peers 🙂

      Thuli Xx

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