Uphuthu nemfino (Phuthu & Spinach)


Uphuthu is a maize-meal porridge stirred into a crumb like texture. It’s best enjoyable with meat and amasi (sour cream). This is a South African cuisine and it is one of the very common main dishes in the rural South African kitchen.

I learnt to cook uphuthu properly when I was 20 years old and I only cook it when I’m with my family…well…it’s not my favourite dish to cook because then I will have to keep checking on it and stirring blah blah, this is because it’s cooked on low heat…(and I’m lazy like that 😉 )

So…at home we have a special phuthu pot with a thick base. The reason for this is that when cooking uphuthu, there’s a thick layer that sticks to the bottom of the pot caused by the slow cooking process and vigorous mixing in order to create fluffy, soft crumbs. But this can be removed by adding water and leaving the pot to soak.

The correct way/ratio of cooking phuthu is maize meal 1:1. for example, 1 cup maize meal, 1 cup water. 2 cups maize meal, 2 cups water etc…it depends on how much phuthu you’re cooking. And if you add more water, you end up with pap like texture and more maize meal results in very dry uncooked phuthu.

This is what you will need when cooking uphuthu:

  • 2 cups maize meal
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/4 tsp salt


Pour boiling water and salt into a pot. Bring to boil, add the maize meal  and close the lid without stirring. Reduce heat and simmer gently for 5 minutes. Remove lid and stir well with a wooden spoon. Replace lid but placing it across the pot, leaving a small gap, reduce heat and steam for about 30-40mins (depending on the type of maize meal you use and the amount of your phuthu), keep checking on it every 8-10mins to stir/fluff and be careful not to burn it.

Serve as desired.



  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 tbsp curry powder
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 1 package (500g) chopped spinach
  • 1/2 tsp chicken spice (you can use salt)
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 chopped red pepper


In a pan, cook the onion, garlic and curry powder in oil for 3-4 minutes or until onion is tender. Stir in spinach and red pepper. Stir. Season with chicken spice and black pepper. Cook and stir until the mixture is heated through. Serve as desired.


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