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Umngqusho
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from: Southern Africa | cooking method: boiling-simmering

Umngqusho

Umngqusho (Mngqusho) is a favorite traditional dish of the Xhosa people in South Africa made of samp and cowpeas. Samp (or stampmielies, stamp) is very similar to American hominy or posole: both are de-hulled dried corn (maize). In the case of samp, however, the corn kernels are crushed or broken into pieces which are easier to cook and eat. If you cannot find samp, buy dry hominy and use a rolling pin or a mortar and pestle to crush or break the kernels, being careful not to grind them into flour. Cowpeas are a variety of the American black-eyed pea (use whichever is obtainable). In South Africa, dried samp and beans are sold already mixed and ready to use. Samp is sometimes served with fried onions, or as a side dish with any main course that has its own gravy.

xhosa farm in south africa

What you need

What you do


Many websites report that umngqusho is said to be South African President Nelson Mandela's favorite dish. It is usually described as "stamp mealies (broken dried maize kernels), sugar beans, butter, onions, potatoes, chillis and lemons, . . . simmered a long time until all ingredients are tender". His autobiography, however, describes the more traditional umngqusho.


Nelson Mandela

samp, sometimes plain or mixed with beans

South African President Nelson Mandela describes the umngqusho of his youth in Long Walk to Freedom (Boston: Little, Brown and Company) :

Of my mother's three huts, one was used for cooking, one for sleeping, and one for storage. In the hut in which we slept, there was no furniture in the Western sense. We slept on mats and sat on the ground. I did not discover pillows until I went to Mqhekezweni. My mother cooked food in a three-legged iron pot over an open fire in the center of the hut or outside. Everything we ate we grew and made ourselves. My mother planted and harvested her own mealies. Mealies were harvested from the field when they were hard and dry. They were stored in sacks or pits dug in the ground. When preparing the mealies, the women used different methods. They could ground the kernels between two stones to make bread, or boil the mealies first, producing umphothulo (mealie flour eaten with sour milk) or umngqusho (samp, sometimes plain or mixed with beans). Unlike mealies, which were sometimes in short supply, milk from our cows and goats was always plentiful.


Other African gastronomical excerpts

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