Umngqusho recipe

I don’t usually write recipes for traditional food for various reasons. One reason being that soul food and home cooking sometimes really just needs practice and some TLC, recipes tend to be very clinical and precise. The other reason I shy away from them is that, honestly, my family never wrote any of them down! I host cookery classes whenever I have the time and one of the most popular requests is from young people asking me to teach them traditional cooking, which hurts coz it basically means my French cuisine diploma is basically a piece of expensive cardboard! Hehe. Jokes aside though, I feel it is important to document and share our traditional foods and recipes. We need something to pass on to the kids and the rest of the world (P.S. African cuisine is the next big thing in the world of food, watch this space.)

This recipe is for umngqusho, the isiXhosa term for samp and beans. In America samp is referred to as “hominy”. Basically course crushed white corn. As I’ve mentioned on this blog before, corn isn’t indigenous to Africa but we’ve adapted it and over the centuries it’s become a staple. Perfect with stews, meat and gravy it’s quite heavy on the stomach but if made right you’ll be going back to the pot over and over. As kids my brother and I used to eat it mixed with mayonnaise and nothing else. I sometimes put a twist on it when I plate it for fine dining events where I shape the cooked umngqusho into discs, crumb them and then bake them. 


  • 1 cup sugar beans
  • 1 cup kidney beans
  • 1 cup samp 
  • +/- 1,5 litres water
  • 3 medium sized onions, chopped rough
  • 3 spoons butter, for frying 
  • 1/2 cup of lard (animal fat or Holsum) 
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 2 teaspoons curry powder or masala
  • 2 teaspoons mixed dried herbs
  • Coarse black pepper
  • Sea salt


  1. Place the beans in a bowl of lukewarm water and leave them overnight. This removes impurities and also helps make the cooking process go faster. Strain and discard the water. 
  2. Place the beans and the samp in a relatively large pot (the samp and beans will triple in size on cooking) and place the pot on a medium heat with the water. Make sure the water is about 3 times the amount of the beans and samp. 
  3. Let the pot simmer for about 1,5hours
  4. Fry the onions in the butter until translucent and soft, add the spices and herbs (except the salt) and mix them into the onions. Pour the mixture into the samp pot and mix well. 
  5. Let the pot simmer for another hour whilst regularly stirring it to prevent it burning at the bottom. If the water complete evaporates add a bit more.   Stir in your lard/Holsum and the salt. Test if the samp is ready hy tasting it. Once you’re happy with the consistency, remove from the heat. 

Note: for a more savoury tasting umngqusho substitute the water with a beef or vegetable stock. 

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