Our Xhosa table: 10 dishes for the perfect celebration menu

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Our Xhosa table: 10 dishes for the perfect celebration menu

TASTE’s Khanya Mzongwana and chef Ayanda Matomela both grew up in Port Elizabeth, with the same dreams of a career in food. They got together to create a very special menu, one that brings the dishes of their shared Xhosa heritage to a new present.


Split pea soup

“This bowl of comfort is my dad’s handiwork. He was a huge Ina Paarman fan. When things were good, we would pick a recipe from one of her cookbooks. When things were rough, we would make this. It became one of the recipes I requested most.” – Khanya

Split pea soup

Find the recipe for split pea soup here. 

Wreath bread

“Xhosa people are full of pride, so we struggle to admit when we are battling to put food on the table. When we couldn’t afford a loaf of bread, we would bake it. This recipe is the one that most young girls in the township had to learn to make, and the bread I bake today is based on the one I learned from my mom when I was 11.” – Khanya


Find the recipe for wreath bread here. 


uLoyiso’s pickled fish

This one is an Easter favourite, but we see no reason why it shouldn’t be eaten at other celebrations. “Pickled fish is a major marker of the Easter period in most black households and each family holds its recipe in high regard. I’ve been raised to believe that my mom’s is the one to beat. Here it is: the best pickled fish in the country. Maybe the world.” – Khanya


Find the recipe for uLoyiso’s pickled fish here.

Stovetop leg of lamb

“An important thing I learned from my gran was to always have a plan B. On big cooking days, her small oven would be overrun with roasting the chicken, keeping the fish warm, baking scones and bread, broiling potatoes… so this scrumptious recipe utilises the stovetop beyond its wildest potential.”  – Khanya


Find the recipe for stovetop leg of lamb here. 

White-wine-roast umleqwa

“A Sunday chicken roast is undoubtedly one of the most anticipated meals of the week. Growing up, we had to run to catch the bird. Basically an adult chicken, umleqwa is tougher than a normal chicken so you should treat it like duck or any wild game poultry to maximise its flavour.” – Ayanda


Find the recipe for white-wine-roast umleqwa here. 

Chicken livers with ibhisto

“This is my take on the delicious fried beef livers with onions sold on most street corners in my ’hood. Every township has its well-known aunty who makes the best livers and if they’re really good, it’s worth walking to the next township for lunch!”- Ayanda


Find the recipe for chicken livers with ibhisto here.

uNcinci’s frikkadels

“This recipe was passed down by word of mouth and I hope that if uNcinci sees this, she will be proud of how well I remembered it. My aunts coat the frikkadels in a bit of flour to prevent sticking but it’s not essential. It makes tremendously good burger patties.” – Ayanda

uNcinci’s-frikkadels with umfino

Find the recipe for uNcinci’s frikkadels here. 


Mushroom Bovril umngqusho

“I was doing my daily scroll on Instagram when I spotted Zola Nene’s mushroom samp. It was a eureka moment! There’s usually a bit of a fight to get samp onto the table because many people don’t deem it celebrationworthy. My version is tasty with an umami-ish dimension. Thanks for the inspo, sis!” – Khanya

Mushroom Bovril umngqusho

Find more mushroom Bovril umngqusho here. 

uPamela’s remixed potato salad

“There’s something special about everyone’s mom’s or gran’s potato salad, and who’s responsible for making it will always be asked when there’s a special ceremony or gathering. I like to elevate it with crème fraîche, garlic, aïoli and fresh chives.” – Ayanda


Find the recipe for uPamela’s remixed potato salad here. 


“At home, we didn’t really eat umfino and I would only get to taste it when I played with the neighbours’ children after school. They ate it every day so I thought they loved it as much as I did, but it was really because this was the most affordable way to keep the family nourished. Today, I enjoy umfino with my gran’s frikkadels.” – Ayanda

Find the recipe for umfino here. 


White chocolate and tonka bean pap

“There aren’t enough words to explain what pap is to South Africans. Different cultures eat it differently but we all respect its place in our culinary story. Before school every morning I would eat the same breakfast: pap and tea will hold you up! This is my fresh take on it, because who says you can’t eat breakfast as dessert?” – Ayanda


Find the recipe for white chocolate and tonka bean pap here.

Khanya Mzongwana and chef Ayanda Matomela

Khanya Mzongwana Article by: Khanya Mzongwana

If you're anything like our deputy food editor Khanya Mzongwana, you're obsessed with uniqueness and food with feeling. Cook her family-tested favourites, midweek winners and her mouth-wateringly fresh takes on plant-based eating.

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