These are the traditional recipes of southern africa - contemporary recipes are on the product pages.

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In her book "The African Kitchen", Josie Stow writes: "In Africa, food is precious. Nothing edible is ever wasted..."

Travelling in Africa one meets every kind of food - every kind of cook - from molecular gastronomy and restaurants worthy of a Michellin star (and there are many of those!), to the humble 'shebeens', the 'buy and braai', the street-food vendors and everything in between.

Ukuva iAfrica Mealies

It is the food of the ordinary people - the street-food, the shebeen food and the food at the 'buy and braai' that intrigues and fascinates - it is simple, but invariably delicious.

Recipes flex and adapt - changing to accomodate what's available, the taste of the cook and most often, what people can afford.

Sometimes it also depends on who, and how many people will be eating. Choice ingredients are unashamadly reserved for 'important' people.

The one ingredient - the secret 'sauce' - in every dish, is the respect - the reverence - with which the cook handles the ingredients. Here food really is precious - it is never taken for granted.

Ukuva iAfrica Guinea Fowl Feather


It would seem fitting to start the traveller's food story in Southern Africa - and to start with the simple things - the every day food of the ordinary people.

A meal in southern Africa is seldom complete without 'pap' (maize porridge - not unlike Polenta).

Whether it is Putu (krummelpap - literally translated as 'crumbly porridge) - as people in the central and Eastern parts of the country prefer it, or 'Boland pap' - which is the recipe of the people of the southern regions, or 'Stywe pap' (stiff porridge), as the people of the northern regions (Gauteng, the Goldreef and Soweto) prefer it, it is a porridge made of ground maize and water.

In some rural areas the maize is still ground by hand - often between two stones - and this pap, cooked over an open fire in a tree legged pot - has a taste and flavour that cannot be re-created in a city kitchen.

Commercially, pap is usually available as a finely ground meal or a more coarsely ground 'braai-pap'. The latter is better for Putu (Krummelpap).


Ukuva iAfrica various kinds of mealiepap



500ml finely ground, white maize meal
5ml salt
1,5 liters water
30ml butter/ rendered fat / margarine / cooking oil

Set 1 liter of water to boil in a heavy-based saucepan with a tight fitting lid.

Mix the meal and the salt into 500ml cold water.

Add the mixture to the boiling water little by little - stirring it through well - no lumps!

Put the lid on, reduce the heat as low as it can go and simmer gently for 30 minutes.

Here opinions divide: some say leave it alone - resist the temptation to stir - it will burn/singe at the bottom but that adds to the flavour... others say to stir occasionally to prevent it catching.

At the end of the cooking time, stir in the butter/fat and serve.

Note: To the extreme annoyance of the purists in the North, the Capetonians will sometimes use yellow maize, add whole, fresh corn kernels and a whole lot more butter, so that the 'pap' looks golden yellow and glossy.

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Ukuva iAfrica Porcupine quills

STYWE PAP (Stiff porridge)

500g Maize meal - can be either fine or slightly coarser - made with either white or yellow maize.
1 liter of water
5ml salt
30ml butter/fat/oil/margarine

Bring the water and salt to a rolling boil in a large, heavybased saucepan with a tightfitting lid.

Pour the maize meal into the boiling water all in one go and stir vigorously - take care to avoid splashing the hot porridge - its BURNS!

Put on the lid, turn the heat down really low and leave to cook undisturbed for 30 minutes (it will catch on the bottom!).

Stir in the butter and serve hot.

Ukuva iAfrica Stywepap

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750g Maize meal - coarser meal works better.
1 liter of water
5ml salt
30ml butter

Bring the water and salt to a rolling boil in a large, heavybased saucepan with a tightfitting lid.

Pour the maize meal into the boiling water all in one go and stir gently but firmly. The idea is to get small 'lumps' to start forming.

Put on the lid, turn the heat down really low and leave to cook undisturbed for 15 minutes (it will catch on the bottom!). From there, cook for another 20 - 25 minutes but stir it through every 5 minutes or so. The idea is to get a loose, crumbly textured mix.

Stir in the butter and serve hot.

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Which 'pap' when and with what?

Boland Pap - without the extra corn kernels - is most often eaten at breakfast with milk, sugar, honey or cream.

With the corn kernels, it is left to cool and get solid. It is then fried in slices and served with meat or vegetables with a sauce at lunch or dinner.

Stywe Pap - is eaten at breakfast (with extra butter and sugar), lunch and dinner - often with meat and a Chakalaka sauce.

Putu Pap - is eaten at breakfast with 'amazi' (curdled milk) and as a main meal, squeezed into a ball and dipped into a meaty vegetable stew.

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There are many variations - almost as many as there are cooks - and each region has its specialities.

The story goes that Chakalaka developed in the 1950's on the gold mines when the men, living in the hostels, would pool their ingredients to cook up a vegetable stew to eat with maize 'pap'.

There is considerable lack of consensus about the origin of the name... some say its a phonetic 'fast and tasty' - others claim it has roots in Fanigalo (the miners' patois).

The basics of a cooked Chakalaka: Onions, carrots, potatoes, green pepper, cabbage, garlic, chillies and curry powder.

But - put a few guys together around a pot of food and a few beers and the stories (and the recipes), eventually grow horns... and tails... and follow strange meandering paths... and before long, a legend has been hatched.

Ukuva iAfrica Telling stories in a Soweto Shebeen over a few beers

They say - and here we have to emphasise it is hearsay - that a well made Chakalaka has almost magical restorative powers.

A generous helping eaten before a night out, followed by another generous helping after the party, instantly erases the effects too much alcohol has on a man...


Ukuva iAfrica Chakalaka Stew from "Life, Soweto Style"


A Chakalaka recipe from Soweto:

2 Tbsp Sunflower oil (not olive oil!)
1 Tbsp curry powder (medium)
1 large white onion finely chopped
3 cloves of garlic - crushed
1 large green pepper - chopped
half a large white cabbage - shredded
half a cauliflower - broken into florets
3 carrots grated
2-3 chillies with seeds - chopped
(adjust to taste - seeds add heat!)
2 large tomatoes - finely chopped
410g can of baked beans in tomato sauce or white beans (optional)
Splash of vinegar or Worchestershire sauce
Salt and pepper to taste

Fry the onion and pepper until soft. Lower the heat and add the garlic and curry powder. As soon as the curry powder smells as if its cooking, add a little water, a dash of vinegar and the rest of the ingredients. Simmer 10-15 minutes.

Replace the chillies and curry powder with 1 Tsb (or to taste) Malawi Gold, Swazi Mama Mamba or Zulu Fire Sauce - each gives a different variation - all sublimely delicious!

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At many of the 'buy and braai' establishments - like Mzoli's in Gugulethu near Cape Town - they make a different Chakalaka... its almost like a cold salsa or relish.

Ukuva iAfrica Girls lunching at Mzoli's

Ukuva iAfrica Thulisa and the crowd from Dining In at Mzoli's


Ukuva iAfrica Cold Chakalaka

Ukuva iAfrica Remco lunching at Mzoli's

This 'recipe' comes from a 'buy and braai' roadside stall near Port St Johns on the Wild Coast:

(Port St Johns)

45 ml Spicy Fruit Chutney
15 ml Vinegar (brown)
15 ml sunflower oil
2 large carrots grated
1 medium onion chopped
3 large, ripe tomatoes chopped
4 red or green chillies finely chopped with the seeds.
Salt to taste
A large handfull of fresh coriander leaves (or a mixture of coriander and flat leaf parsley or carrot tops, parsley and coriander, or young veld-spinach).

The ingredients are chopped surprisingly finely (2mm) - even the coarsely grated carrot is given a few chops to make sure it is fine enough.

This Chakalaka is best made the night before. Store in the refrigerator until required.

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This relish is delicious with Umsimvubu chilli, ginger and black pepper grinder.


In the southern parts of Zimbabwe - the region that spills into Mozambique and Limpopo - they make a cooked Chakalaka that is a cross between a pickle and a relish. Fruity, vinegary curry flavour - HOT and intensely spicy. Here they use it as a 'dipping' sauce or a drizzle.

The Ukuva Cha-ka-la-ka follows a slightly milder path - most people would not be partial to the extreme heat of the Zimbabwean version.

Ukuva iAfrica Chakalaka Sauce

Ukuva's Baobab Cha-ka-la-ka is a great table sauce for flame grilled lamb, goat, pork, chicken, corn or vegetable skewers.
Fabulous mixed into yoghurt to slow-cook chicken or goat - add a little extra chilli if needed!

Ukuva iAfrica Chillies drying on a rack at the Fynbos Chilli farm

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Ukuva iAfrica Samp & Beans


(Samp & Beans & Onions)

Credit for this recipe and pictures to
"Life - Soweto Style".
Cook's Note: This recipe takes a long time to cook - between 90 minutes and 2 hours - for the samp and beans to get soft. It is fine to make the dish a few hours ahead of time - it improves with standing.

1kg Samp & Bean Mix, rinsed and soaked overnight.

Pour off the soaking water (do not cook the samp & beans in the soaking water, the elements in the skins of the beans that may cause indigestion would have leached out into the water). Place the samp and beans in a large saucepan and cover with cold water. It is important to slowly bring the water up to the boil from cold - don't add boiling water. Simmer slowly until the samp and beans are nearly soft and most of the water has evaporated. If needed, add more water (can be boiling water) while its cooking. Season well with salt.

While the samp and beans are cooking, make the onion mixture:

2 Large white onions - sliced
2 Cloves of garlic - crushed
2 Green chillies - chopped
Sunflower oil
1/2 tsp whole cloves
1 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp grated nutmeg
freshly ground black pepper
100g butter

Sauté the onions, garlic and chillies in a little sunflower oil until soft. Add the cloves and allspice. Add the onion mixture to the samp and conitue to simmer until the samp mixture is completely soft. Season with nutmeg and black pepper - add extra salt if needed. Stir in the butter and serve with meat and gravy.

Note: 1/4 cup of crushed, toasted peanuts may be used as a garnish.

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Ukuva iAfrica Beans


Umngqusho is delicious with lamb and green-bean stew that was made with a dash of Swazi Mama Mamba - or Chermoula chichen...


Ukuva iAfrica Bread



(Maize bread)

500 ml cake flour
10 ml baking powder
5 ml salt
125 ml fine maize meal
340 g can of whole kernel corn (drained)
3 eggs
175ml double cream yoghurt

Pre-heat oven to 200°C. Generously butter a small loaf tin - the inside of the tin must look properly smeared with butter - not just slightly shiny. (This ensures a crust of incomparable deliciousness!)

Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl. Mix in the maize meal and corn kernels. Beat the eggs and yoghurt together, stir into the flour mixture and pour into the tin.

Bake for 75 minutes until a skewer comes out clean and the loaf sounds hollow when tapped.

Turn out onto a wire rack to cool.

Serve with real butter.

Hot Mielie Brood is delicious served with flame grilled Malawi Gold Chicken, Beef steak with Zulu Fire Sauce or Lamb Sosaties with Safari BBQ sauce.

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1 cup cake flour
1 cup bread flour
3 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
200ml milk
1 egg
Sunflower oil to deep-fry.

Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl. Lightly beat the egg into the milk and mix into the flour to get a smooth, well blended dough.

Break off apricot sized chunks and deep-fry in hot oil until golden brown.

Makes about 12.

Ukuva iAfrica Vetkoek


Vetkoek was traditionally made on 'baking day' to feed the family while everyone waited for the yeast bread to rise.

Vetkoek is versatile. In the Freestate and Northern parts of the country they make a sloppy Vetkoek dough with yeast. These Vetkoek are often much larger - about the size of a side-plate. These are cut open, filled with curried mince and served hot.

Ukuva Cha-ka-la-ka is delicious with mince-filled Vetkoek.

The smaller, egg-sized vetkoek are most often eaten warm, sprinkled with cinnamon sugar or drizzled with honey, syrup or jam.

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Traditional Gingerbeer is a great favourite with young and old - it is often served at dances and weddings - in theory it is non-alcoholic - but youngsters (often the ones charged with making the gingerbeer), quickly discovered that by adding more than a few raisins and 'pushing' the fermentation with a little warmth, they could create a batch that tasted like cooldrink, but carried quite a punch.

4,5 liters water
30g fresh ginger - crushed
2 cups sugar
1 tsp dry yeast
a small handful of raisins

Boil water, add ginger and sugar and allow to cool. Pour into a clean plastic bucket or jug. Add yeast, cover the bucket with a cloth or a partially closed lid - do not seal tightly - it will explode!

Leave for 1-2 days in a place that is not too cold. Strain and pour into bottles.
Serve well chilled.

Ukuva IAfrica - Root Ginger

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