Umphokoqo: Crumbly maize meal porridge. Image: Adobe.

Umphokoqo – Nelson Mandela’s favourite crumbly maize meal porridge

Since we are still celebrating Mandela month, let’s explore more of Madiba’s favourite dishes.


Umphokoqo: Crumbly maize meal porridge. Image: Adobe.

Umphokoqo, also known as crumbly maize meal porridge, is a firm South African favourite. Traditionally enjoyed with amasi or sour milk, this much-loved dish is indigenous to South Africa.

Nelson Mandela was very fond of umphokoqo. I used to prepare it for him on a weekly basis. He would not take any excuse from me if I did not ensure that I cooked it for him at least once a week.

Mr Mandela loved this traditional favourite with amasi (ingqaka). When preparing his amasi, I had to ensure that it was really sour, thick and chunky like cottage cheese. I served his amasi on the side so that he could choose how much he wanted to stir into his umphokoqo or crumbly maize meal porridge. That is how he liked this dish.

To prepare amasi, unpasteurised milk is traditionally kept in a calabash and sealed with a stopper that is not too tight. The fermentation process can take two to three weeks (or even more) for people who like it very sour like Madiba. 

Here is the recipe that I used to prepare for Mr Mandela.

Umphokoqo recipe

5 from 2 votes
Recipe by Xoliswa Ndoyiya Course: MainCuisine: South AfricanDifficulty: Easy


Prep time


Cooking time


Total time




  • 500 ml water

  • 5 ml salt

  • 3 cups maize meal


  • Bring the water and salt to boil in a pot.
  • Add the maize meal, and cover with a lid and let it boil.
  • Once it is boiling, stir with a fork until the water is absorbed. This will create a nice rough texture.
  • Cover the pot again and reduce the heat and cook until it is fluffy and cooked. Stir again and cover.
  • Cook for another 20 minutes and serve with Amasi (sour milk) on the side so that each person can stir in their own amount.


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Looking for more tasty recipes Xoliswa used to prepare for Nelson Mandela? Just have a look at our recipe page for more of her recipes and much more. We have excellent suggestions for you to try.

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