Isinkwa nemifino (steamed mielie bread with wild spinach)

Isinkwa nemifino (steamed mielie bread with wild spinach)

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  • Makes 1 loaf
  • Easy
  • Fat conscious Meat-free
  • 20 minutes
  • 1½ hours
  • Woolworths Spier Chardonnay

“Isinkwa sombila nemifino is a classic traditional dish. I love this recipe because it reminds me of home. My mom used to grind the mielies by hand, which made the texture heavenly. It’s a great all-rounder that goes well with spreads, soups and meaty gravies like tripe.” – Desiree Ngema


  • 2–3 whole mielies
  • 100 g flour
  • 1 t salt
  • 1 T baking powder
  • 2 free-range eggs
  • 50 g butter
  • 40 g sugar
  • 100 g imifino (spinach), washed and roughly chopped

Cooking Instructions

1. Wash the mielies, removing the husks and silk. Using a small knife, gently scrape the kernels from the cobs to make 250 g.

2. Reserve 50 g of the kernels to add to the batter, then blend the remaining kernels to make a chunky purée. Set both aside.

3. Sift the flour, salt and baking powder. Cream the eggs, butter and sugar in a mixer and add the mielie purée. Add the dry ingredients and reserved mielie kernels. Mix well to form a smooth batter.

4. Fold in the imifino, taking care not overwork the batter so it doesn’t stain the bread.

5. Pour into a greased or lined stainless-steel bowl, then cover with foil or clingwrap making sure it doesn’t touch the batter.

6. Place in a large saucepan half-filled with water – the bowl should not be submerged in the water. Cover, then steam for 1½ hours over a medium heat. Check the water level every 20 minutes and add more boiling water if necessary.

7. Use a toothpick or skewer to test whether the bread is ready; it should come out dry. If It’s still wet, steam it for a bit longer. Once ready, remove from the saucepan, allow to cool for 5 minutes, then flip the bowl upside down. Place the bread on a wire rack. Serve warm or cold.

Cook’s note: You can replace imifino with your favourite leafy vegetable but make sure you drain any excess water

Find more South African recipes here. 

Photographs: Jan Ras And Toby Murphy
Production: Bianca Strydom
Food assistant: Nadia Meyer

Desiree Ngema Recipe by: Desiree Ngema
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Desiree Ngema is the owner of Desbaked coffee shop and bakery. The bakery hosts monthly cake sales, one-on-one cake-decorating lessons and sell essential baked goods.

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