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South African Staple dish: Umngqusho (Samp and Beans)

South African Staple dish: Umngqusho (Samp and Beans)

Umngqusho is one dish that beautifully illustrates how lifestyle and culinary tradition are often intertwined. Umngqusho, popularly known as "samp and beans," is a dish from diverse South African cuisine that represents history, culture, and a way of life. By linking people to their roots and the sustaining flavours that have nourished generations, this well-loved dish encourages social interaction around the table.

A rich history that spans several centuries and incorporates the various cultural influences that have influenced South Africa can be found in Umngqusho. When food was scarce, this dish was initially created out of necessity using basic, nearby materials. A nutritious and well-balanced meal made of beans, a source of protein, and corn, a staple crop, was used to help families weather hardships.

The history of Umngqusho goes back to the revolution against apartheid and the former president of South Africa, Nelson Mandela. Mandela frequently praised Umngqusho and emphasized its importance during his youth in the Eastern Cape. This meal became a symbol of unification thanks to his love for it, serving as a reminder to the country of its common challenges and the value of cooperating despite cultural differences.

Preparation Time

2 hours and 30 minutes


Dried samp (dried corn kernels)

Vegetables (onions, carrots, tomatoes)

Spices and herbs (bay leaves, thyme, curry powder)

Cooking oil

Dried beans 




  • Rinse the dried samp and beans under cold water to remove any dirt or debris.
  • Place the samp and beans in separate bowls and cover them with water. Leave them to soak overnight.
  • Drain and rinse the soaked samp and beans.
  • Combine the soaked samp and beans. Add enough water to cover.
  • Cook the samp and beans for about 2 hours until they are tender.
  • Heat a bit of cooking oil or butter over medium heat in a separate pan.
  • Add chopped onions and sauté until they are translucent and soft.
  • Once the samp and beans are cooked to your desired tenderness, add the sautéed vegetables to the pot.
  • Stir gently and salt.
  • Serve as the main dish.