U is for Umngqusho
Umngqusho, or Samp and Beans in English, is a popular South African dish. “Samp” is made from dried corn kernels pounded to loosen the husk, and stamped or chopped into smaller pieces until it’s like a “groat”(dehulled). It’s then boiled and often served with beans. Samp is the same thing they have in the southern part of the United States, usually called hominy or cornmeal mush, in the New England states since colonial days. The beans come from lima (or sugar) beans. Butter, onions, potatoes, chilies and lemons are added and it simmers until it’s soft – 3 to 4 hours. It is a staple food and often served in winter as a hearty dish to warm someone up. In the Xhosa tribe, it is served with butter or fat and often accompanied by pork, chicken, sheep or goat tripe. It is also said that this was Mandela’s favorite traditional dish.
Another popular dish is Umfino. Unfino is a generic term meaning “wild leaves.” Leaves from the bean plants , beef root leaves or sweet potato leaves can be used. This sounds a lot like turnip greens in the United States. In fact, it is served with corn maize, spinach, potatoes, and cabbage – all cooked in one pot. It can be served as a midday or evening meal.
This is a recipe for umfino HERE. Take a look!
Lulama, my Xhosa friend, said that umfino may also be served with “walkies and talkies,” (chicken head and feet). Every culture seems to have their own specialties. When I was walking in Johannesburg, I noticed there were tons of people cooking in the streets over large fires. I think they were cooking goat or sheep. I have photos – somewhere! It seemed like it was a kind of holiday.
I was fortunate to be able to sample these dishes and others when I visited my friend in South Africa. They all tasted great! I love trying new foods and learning about the cultural aspects behind them.
What is your favorite corn dish? What do you think of hominy or cornmeal mush? How appetizing do these dishes sound to you?
You have just read, “U is for Umngqusho,” by Amy L. Bovaird. Copyright April 30, 2015. You can see who else is participating in the A to Z Blogging Challenge HERE