Umga (sweet thorn bush-roasted potatoes)

Umga (sweet thorn bush-roasted potatoes)

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  • 6
  • Easy
  • Meat-free wheat and gluten free
  • 5 minutes
  • 25 minutes

“Umga, or the sweet thorn bush, is used for everything from fencing your garden to protect it from hungry goats and cows, to cooking. It makes lasting coals and gives a sweet, smoky flavour. The impepho butter is great on these potatoes but also good on steak or spread thickly on bread.” – Lipato Shogole


  • 1 kg potatoes, washed
  • salt, to taste
  • 1 T oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • impepho a few sprigs, finely ground
  • 200 g butter

Cooking Instructions

1. Bring a pot of water to the boil and add the salt. Boil the potatoes until cooked through, about 12–15 minutes.

2. Make a fire and allow the coals to redden and cool a bit. Add the umga branches and let them burn, then place the potatoes onto the umga and roast, turning often, until the skin is crispy and slightly blackened.

3. To make the impepho onion butter, heat the oil in a pan over a medium heat. Fry the onion with the impepho until the onions are soft and caramelised, about 5 minutes.

4. Remove from the heat and stir in the butter until melted. Add salt if you like. To serve, place the potatoes on a platter and pour over the impepho butter.

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Photographs: Jan Ras
Production: Khanya Mzongwana

Lipato Shogole Recipe by: Lipato Shogole
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Lipato Shogole is a food activist and the co-founder of Ukutya, a Gqebera-born Sunday lunch club that serves indigenous menus and innovative remixes using traditional dishes. Lipato's latest project Hae Mahaeng is based in the Eastern Cape and focuses on community and food.

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