Istambu namathambo (samp and beans with beef bones)

Istambu namathambo (samp and beans with beef bones)

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  • 5
  • Medium
  • 30 minutes, plus 2–3 hours’ soaking time
  • 3 hours

Istambu is a dish that my mum, Sindi Molefe, cooks when she’s in a good mood. For me this recipe represents that. It’s a labour of love.


  • For the istambu: 
  • 200 g samp 
  • 200 g dried sugar beans 
  • 2 litres water 
  • 1 t salt  
  • 1/2 beef stock pot 
  • For the curry wamathambo: 
  • 1 onion, finely chopped 
  • 2 T oil 
  • 2 t curry powder 
  • 1 t garam masala 
  • 1/2 green pepper, finely chopped 
  • 1 kg beef bones 
  • 2 medium tomatoes, finely chopped 
  • 1 beef stock cube 
  • 4 cups water 

Cooking Instructions

1. To make the istambu, soak the samp and butter beans in 2 cups water for 2–3 hours or overnight.
2. Once the samp is hydrated, place in a saucepan add the beans, salt and remaining water and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook until soft but not mushy.
3. To make the curry wamathambo, pour 2 T oil in large pot and sauté the onion  until soft and slightly browned. Add the curry powder and garam masala cook for 1 minute.
4. Add the green pepper and cook until soft. Add the beef bones and coat evenly with the onion and green pepper. Cook for 5 minutes.
5. Add the tomatoes and stock pot and cook until tomatoes are soft. Add the water and cook for 1 hour, or until the liquid is reduced by a third. Once the samp and beans are cooked, add to the curry and simmer for 10 minutes.

Find more South African recipes here.

Photograph: Toby Murphy 
Styling: Khanya Mzongwana

Mmabatho Molefe Recipe by: Mmabatho Molefe
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Mmabatho is the head chef and owner of Emazulwini restaurant in Cape Town. She is the winner of the 2022 Eat Out Naked Malt Rising Star Award.

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