We didn't eat much maize growing up but I remember my neighbours making umfino and this is my ode to them. This is a common staple dish in the Eastern Cape, often eaten on its own as a hearty, complete meal on cold nights but also delicious with grilled meat.
- salt, to taste
- 360 g maize meal
- 4 T vegetable oil
- 1 cup cabbage, thinly sliced
- 1 onion, halved and sliced
- a handful celery leaves
- 1 large potato, peeled, cooked and cubed
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 cup spinach, thinly sliced
- 2 T vegetable seasoning
1. Bring 6 cups water to the boil in a large saucepan. Season with salt. While whisking, pour the maize meal into the water and stir until the pap is smooth and thick. Add a little extra water if necessary. Allow the pap to reach a stiff consistency and stir once more before reducing the heat. Cook the pap for 25 minutes, covered. Set aside and keep warm until ready to serve.
2. Heat a pan and add the vegetable oil. Sauté the cabbage, onion, celery leaves, potato, garlic and spinach over a medium-high heat, adding the seasoning. Allow the vegetables to soften and caramelise a bit. Check the seasoning.
3. Combine the maize meal with the sautéed vegetables and serve immediately.
Photograph: Toby Murphy