Umqombothi
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The Lazy Makoti’s Guide to the Kitchen

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The Lazy Makoti’s Guide to the Kitchen

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Umqombothi

Recipe By Mogau Seshoene
Photographs By Craig Fraser

Ingredients

2 kg maize meal
2 kg sorghum + 1 kg extra – King Korn umthombo (green packet)
11 litres water
Brown sugar (optional: it helps beer ferment more quickly)

What’s a celebration without umqombothi? This has become one of my favourite recipes to share, especially since I went to a friend’s family event where there was no one to brew the beer ­– that’s because no one knew how, except an aunt who wasn’t there! Yet umqombothi is an important beverage that is essential in celebrations and communication with the ancestors. I found it sad that we’re losing so much of our heritage and culture because we’re not learning, and working to preserve it. So here goes: when the time comes, here’s the recipe.

Cooking Instructions

Day 1

In a plastic container or bucket, combine the maize meal, 2 kg sorghum and 6 litres boiling water to make a paste. Seal tightly. Put mixture in a dark, warm place to ferment over 2 – 3 days.

Day 2

By the second day, the mixture should have started fermenting and bubbles will appear on the surface. Set aside 2 cups of this fermented mixture (imithombo).

Boil 2 litres of water in a pot and add all the paste from the bucket slowly while stirring continuously. Reduce heat and allow to simmer for an hour to a porridge consistency. Allow to cool completely.

Pour back into bucket and add the 2 cups of fermented liquid you set aside.

Stir with a wooden spoon and add 3 litres of cold water and another 1 kg of dry sorghum to the mixture. Stir till well combined (drinking constistency).

Seal container, cover with a blanket to insulate and return to a dark, warm place to ferment.

Day 3

By the next day, the fermented mixture should smell a little pungent, and tiny bubbles will be popping on the surface. Strain the mixture through a kitchen sieve and serve.

Tip: The solid bits of sorghum left behind in the sieve are called izinsipho and may be frozen and used to make a new batch of umqombhothi. They help to ferment the beer more quickly.

About the Author

Mogau Seshoene founded The Lazy Makoti in 2014 after leaving the corporate world to focus on her love for food. What began as lessons for a friend, a bride-to-be who was afraid of being labelled “The Lazy Makoti” (the lazy daughter-in-law) because she couldn’t cook, evolved into a business, and inspired its name. Through The Lazy Makoti, Mogau offers a series of cooking classes targeted at young, modern Afropolitans who have a keen interest in learning to navigate the kitchen with ease and flair. In addition to being in demand for her real-live lessons, Mogau has become Instagram-famous, with thousands of foodie followers.

In line with her desire to promote the role of food in maintaining South African culture and heritage, she hosted a season of a TV show entitled Cooks For Life on which she demonstrated easier and healthier ways to prepare African and South African cuisine.

Mogau was on the M&G top 200 Young SA list in 2015, has taken part in the Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders at the University of Wisconsin, Stout, in the US and has made the Forbes Africa 30 under 30s list. She is a Brand SA Play your Part Ambassador, and in May 2018 received a USIBA Creative and Cultural Industries Award. Mogau has a diploma in Culinary Arts from the Chefs Training and Innovation Academy in Centurion and completed the industry training under Chef Werner at The Saxon Hotel in Johannesburg. She is a contributing food editor for the weekly newspaper, Sunday World.

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