Uphuthu and leaves salad( imifino): jujing up the traditional

Uphuthu & leaves salad

I’m really not sure what’s going on recently, but my palate/ appetite/ cravings or whatever you may call it, is gravitating a lot towards traditional foods that I grew up with, food I associate with my family, tribe, and province.

Over the last few months I find myself wanting the basic foods I grew up eating. NOT BY CHOICE even, that’s why I don’t understand what’s going on. I even used to say to myself (after an Uphuthu meal for the 7th time in a week); when I’m older and I have a job and my own money: I will never ever cook or eat Uphuthu! Similar feelings with washing dishes and cooking.

I initially thought it’s possibly because of the holidays, I’m missing home. But it’s now beyond the holidays and I’m still feeling like my mother’s bests: Uphuthu nemifino (stywe pap/ mielie pap and a certain species of green leaves that grow wildly), Samp and beans, ujeqe (steamed bread- which turns out to be my son’s favourite as well), rice and beans, rice and canned pilchards (they have to come with that chili sauce in the can). A lot of these are not the standard healthy foods I go for, that’s why I don’t understand.

I can’t be pregnant either… Hope not yet anyway. Maybe I need to visit home more often ☺️. I’m just finding this phenomenon strange after all these years away from home and having established my palate.

Anyway, once again I feel like something closer to my upbringing: Uphuthu nemifino. Uphuthu is made from maize and you could make any consistency you like with this, from stiff pap to uhobe (much looser version, almost like couscous), which I’m making tonight. I even bought maas from my local supermarket the other day, I have not had maas (Amasi) in over 10 years.

Dinner tonight: jujing up the traditional  (at least trying to): Uphuthu salad with mixed leaves (spinach, kale and broccoli leaves). This should be fun.

What do you need?
Spinach leaves- 3 large leaves
Broccoli leaves- 6 leaves
Kale leaves- 6 leaves
Maize meal (not instant)- 2 cups
Veggies- whole white onion, half red onion, umbila (corn)
Herbs- fresh basil
Seasoning- salt & pepper,
Basil infused olive oil
Extra virgin olive oil
Stock cube- 1x

What to do?
Start with uphuthu, this takes the longest.
Add boiling water into a pot, add salt to water taste: you could always add more water but rather under salt. When it has come to a boil again in the pot, add 2/3 of maize meal to 1/3 of boiling water. Mix this. NB: handle side of the wooden spoon ideal for this. When thoroughly mixed and to a consistency you want, put back on the stove at low heat: 3rd dial on a standard electric stove.

The consistency is entirely up to you! If you want a much more full bodied or more coarse or more stiff, all up to you, the trick is in the proportions of water to maize meal.
Stiff pap- 2/3 water; 1/3 maize meal- best with a braai or a barberque.
Full bodied (between stiff and coarse)- 1/2 water and 1/2 maize meal- this is best with stews and everyday food.
Coarse (Uphuthu)- 1/3 water, 2/3 maize meal- best for Maas. And as I figured; good couscous look alike.

When all mixed and consistency decided (NB: it’s still going to get broken down more as it cooks), at low heat; keep mixing, stirring, crushing lumps every 5 minutes for 20 minutes.
How do you know it’s done? You can taste and if you’re still getting the granular after taste then it’s not done. OR you could use the traditional method: take a spoonful of the Uphuthu, mould it into a ball and throw it against the wall. If it breaks it’s not done, if it doesn’t it then we are ready.

imageWhile Uphuthu is cooking, let’s crack on with the other components. Roughly chop the 3 different leaves. Into a pot with basil infused olive oil, add half rings of white onion. Let this soften, then add the chopped leaves. Let this cook for 4 minutes, then add stock cube and close the pot for another 2 minutes. Then add 50 ml of apple juice and let this cook through. It cooks very quickly: 10-15 minutes.
NB: my secret with kale, because it’s  overwhelmingly bitter, I balance the bitterness with a little bit of dose sweet. After 10-15 minutes, this should be done.

imageWhile the leaves and Uphuthu are cooking. Prepare corn from the fresh Cob of corn, cut it out and steam in salted boiling water for 3-5 minutes.
In the mean time, sauté some brown mushrooms to go with our salad, as a meat substitute.

As finishing touches, slice red onion (add for texture and beautiful color), chop fresh basil for garnish at the end.

When all is done: mix in a large serving bowl: half of spinach, uphuthu, red onion and mix, then the other half spinach and mix again.
Dish onto the plates, top with brown mushrooms and a small drizzle of basil infused olive oil. Garnish with fresh chopped basil.

imageA piece of home with the traditional food components but a bit of grown up me with the composition and the combinations in the meal. Homely while at the same time it feels light, fluffy and very, very easy to do. And I don’t say this much, but this meal is completely VEGETARIAN! And my husband was sulking until he tasted it.
Full of yum…..👍🏽

My son even gets Maas for lunch tomorrow with leftover uphuthu( uphuthu with delicious and creamy curdled milk). 😊


Author: preciousgarnett

I'm a multi-faceted young woman. I'm a proud mom to a now 8 year old 😜. I'm a daughter, I'm a sister and a friend to an amazing circle of powerful people ❤️ I'm a medical doctor, public health specialist currently in marketing I live food, from cooking to finding the best spots in town and in my travels for a good meal. Health, Fitness and Nutrition fanatic. I live by a few beliefs...: 1. Before I do anything whether related to food or not, I ask myself ' Is it worth the calories?' Whether literally or figuratively( i.e. Is the decision worth the stress, effort, investment) 2. What you put in must come out! If you don't let it out, it settles on your tummy and hips. 3. 'Everything happens for a reason'. I try reflect on situations I find myself in, whether by choice or not. And look for Lessons I'm meant to learn from them, in order to grow.

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