Best season to travel to South Africa

Phutu (Umphokoqo)

Traditional South African crumbly pap dressed with sour milk is popular during the hot summer months

Best time: November–March

Phutu (Umphokoqo)

Phutu (Umphokoqo or Umvubo) is a traditional summer dish, especially common to the Xhosa people. It's a type of crumbly pap made of maize meal simmered in water. The cooked porridge is cooled and served with sour milk poured over it. This fermented milk is often referred to as amasi, and its taste resembles cottage cheese or plain yoghurt. It is eaten on hot days on purpose and has the ability to cool the body.

In fact, this grainy porridge is also known in other regions of South Africa as Phutu, which is eaten by most cultural groups of South Africa. However, instead of sour milk, many prefer to eat it with meat, beans, or gravy.

What remains the same among these differences is the preparation of the pap itself which is simple and complicated at the same time. At first sight, there appears to be nothing complicated with simmering the maize meal. Still, it requires much patience—the preparation takes nearly an hour, and the cook must constantly stir the pap to prevent lumps. In the era of fast food, such devotion to ancient cooking methods is particularly respected. Whenever you visit South Africa, make sure to try this traditional mieli pap, no matter if it is made with sour milk or without.

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Last updated: by Eleonora Provozin