ZA Classic A Mieliebread Memoir
Woolworths TASTE|October 2020
ZA Classic A Mieliebread Memoir
Steamed inside a mielie husk in a village, or laced with chilli in a South African Indian kitchen, mieliebread has a special place in South African food history. We talked to three South Africans about their family recipes
Hannah Lewry

Bathandwa Nkambule, food blogger and pop-up restaurant host @theearthycook

When my mom married, she was very dedicated to being a housewife. She was always baking, and used to make mieliebread – or isonka esinombona as she calls it. Sometimes she would use sweetcorn, sometimes roasted corn, and sometimes she would steam it instead of baking it.

The recipe varies, even within cultures. My dad is Swati and my mom is Xhosa, and within each tribe everyone has their own way of preparing it. Where my mom grew up, they used to wrap the dough in mielie leaves to rise, and then boil it in the leaves.

Recipes change, thank goodness! My mom gave me her recipe for a recent African-themed pop-up restaurant I did. I served it with spicy braaied chicken feet and butter for a starter. The diners absolutely loved the twist because they were expecting a hard-core traditional meal and my rendition caught them by surprise.

You can also enjoy mieliebread with butter and jam for breakfast. And at our big family gathering in December, we made four big loaves to eat with oxtail potjie. I’m vegan, so I had it with chickpea curry.

I sometimes think we take the things we grew up with for granted. Which other dish is so versatile, that you could eat it for breakfast, lunch, or supper?


Serves 8


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October 2020