RECIPE: Umxhaxha / Pumpkin And Mealie Dish – Simple Indulgence!

Believe it or not, Umxhaxha has never tasted this good!

When Pasella asked me to prepare an Easter dish I first thought of dishes such as pickled fish, hot cross buns etc. However, they mentioned it had to be a side dish because other bloggers were already preparing the starter, main and a dessert.  It occurred to me that in black African culture, we do have dishes that we consume at certain times of the year, but they are not categorised such as Easter, Christmas etc.  If it’s in season and if the weather agrees then we consume it. Oh boy! I went into a panic mode for a couple of minutes.

I started making phone calls frantically to my sources of indigenous food knowledge around the country.  My sources in Durban, Cape Town, Eastern Cape and Mpumalanga all told me one thing; Easter is a time of celebration therefore we feast. Pumpkin, mealies and wild leaves are in season during this time of the year.  Mam’uMbandezi from Queenstown saved the day and suggested I prepare umxhaxha, amaceba (also a pumpkin dish) or imifino.

Umxhaxha - Pumpkin and Maize


Pasella liked the idea of a pumpkin and corn side dish and so I went with Umxhaxha.  This is a pumpkin and mealies dish, it is usually prepared around Easter because pumpkin and mealies are in season.  It is prepared with mealies, mealie rice or dried samp.  The pumpkin used is not limited only to butternut, any form of pumpkin can be used to prepare the recipe.  It is served as a side dish and it is more popular in the Eastern Cape.


So far I’ve prepared this dish about six times and each and every time my guests won’t stop saying how good it is.  I guarantee your family and friends will ask you to prepare this dish again and again.

Before we get to the recipe I would like to thank Colleen for believing in me and making this possible.  I’d like to thank all my recipe sources for not getting tired of me and answering my questions whenever I call.  I thank Pasella for the opportunity.  Last but not least I thank my fellow bloggers MarisaAlida, Nina and the rest of the food blogging community for just being totally awesome!

PS: No worries if you missed the Pasella show,  you can view the insert here

Umxhaxha Recipe

Serves: 4

1 butternut, cut into 6 pieces (without removing the skin)

2-3 gem squashes, halved and cored

2 cobs (sweetcorn / mielies) / ±170 g

5ml margarine

7.5ml sugar

300ml water

1ml salt

15ml cream


  1. Cook butternut in 200ml water until it is soft.
  2. Remove the butternut from the saucepan and let it cool down before scooping out the inside.
  3. Repeat step 1 & 2 using gem squash.
  4. In a saucepan melt margarine and sugar, add the cooked butternut and gem squash.
  5. Add the sweetcorn and continue to stir, let cook long enough to caramelise the sugar, for ±2 minutes.
  6. Add cream and mix well.
  7. Spoon into the gem squash shells.
  8. Serve warm.

Thuli’s Tips:

  • You can leave the saucepan in step 4 and just mix everything into a bowl and mix it together. I just like the idea of caramelising the sugar first to contribute to the flavour.
  • If traditional pumpkin dishes are your thing, you will enjoy this Isijingi dish 👇

RECIPE: Setjetsa / IsiJingi (Pumpkin And Maize Meal Dish)

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 ( 9 )

  • Yum! I just love gem squash and yet hardly ever see recipes for it. I’m definitely going to give this a try. Congrats on your Pasella appearance: I’m looking foward to seeing it

    • Hi Jane-Anne, thanks for stepping by 🙂 Do try the recipe you’ll love it and your kids will too! I had fun during the Pasella shoot and I think you see that on the clip. Thanks

  • Anel

    Hi, Thuli. I watched this last night and enjoyed your snippet a lot. (I also left a comment on your umphokoqo?/krummelpap recipe). My tongue realy knots with the names, but it is wonderful that you name it like that, because that helps keep your culture alive. It is amazing how intertwined the cultures in SA actually are if you look below the surface just a huge pity that we still so much pull away from and hurt each other. I will keep on visiting your blog. I like your warmth and honesty. Thanks! Oh, and I will try this dish!!

    • I’m glad you enjoyed the snippet….I had tons of fun during the shoot! Since starting the blog I’ve noticed that all South Africans have sooo much in common, coloured, white, indian it doesn’t matter! Its really touching…Anyways, let me know how the recipe turns out! Feedback like yours keeps one going! Thank You!

  • Saw the clip of Pasella on YouTube and you ROCKED, lady!! 🙂 A natural on screen! Love this dish too – I have always had a soft spot for gem squash and mealies, even when I was a vegetable-hating toddler. It’s hard to find gem squash over here in the UK but next time I find some I am makng this, for sure 🙂

    • Thanks Jeanne!!! 🙂 You can also prepare the dish with butternut, I included gemsquash mainly so that I could use the shell for presentation purposes. Infact the dish is nicer with just the butternut!

  • Hi Thuli, I just saw your Pasella clip on YouTube and wanted to congratulate you for being a real pro on TV and your site is superb. Keep up the good work! 🙂

    Love the look of this recipe by the way!

    • Thank you Michelle! I appreciate the feedback and of course the visit! 🙂

  • Anonymous

    It is indeed a nice meal, can I serve it as a starter?

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