Hopping over to the Southern African country of Zimbabwe, cornmeal (known as upfu in the Shona language, pronounced "ufu"), alongside milled grains such as sorghum, millet, or rapoko (finger millet locally known in Shona as njera), is an essential ingredient which can be used to prepare porridge (bota) for breakfast or, as a thicker version, lunch and dinner often in the form of sadza. Having soft porridge makes for an extremely healthy and nutritious breakfast, especially from grains with a deeper color such as sorghum or millet. And if you have eaten or cooked Zimbabwean food, such as muriwo une dovi, you will find that the use of peanut butter is very prominent. The addition of a spoon or two (or a cheeky three) tablespoons of unsweetened peanut butter to a bowl of porridge adds protein to the dish, and what you will end up with is a nutty porridge known as bota une dovi (porridge with peanut butter). This is by far a much better alternative to sugar coated processed cereals, and nut-allergy-free children just love it!
Fun Fact: In other parts of Southern Africa such as Botswana and some parts of South Africa, cornmeal porridge is known as "motogo" pronounced "moo-taw-hor."
- 4 to 5 cups water (divided use)
- 1 cup white cornmeal
- 1 pinch salt
- Optional: peanut butter to serve
- Optional: sugar or sugar alternative to serve
1. Take 1 cup of cornmeal or upfu and add it to a pot. Add 1 cup of COLD water to wet this and create a paste as pictured here.
2. Add boiling water and put the pot on a stove on high heat. The amount of water required will really depend on the type and quality of cornmeal, however for brands such as Indian Head, adding 3 to 4 cups of boiling water will do.
3. Bring the mixture up to a boil and reduce to a low heat to simmer for 15 minutes.
You will notice it thickens rapidly, if not as soon as the boiling water is added. Care should be taken at this stage and I highly recommend covering the pot with a lid as the mixture tends to bubble and pop, which could easily cause burns if contact is made with your skin.
4. It is a good time at the beginning of simmering to gauge whether you are happy with the thickness of the porridge. If it is too thick for your liking, then add a little bit of boiling water. Simmering for longer than 15 minutes will normally do no harm to your porridge, however, this can be disastrous for other types of porridge. Njera will normally become too liquidy if covered and simmered for too long.
5. Dish out the cooked porridge into a bowl and mix in 1 to 2 tablespoons of peanut butter until well incorporated. Add sugar to taste and enjoy with or without milk, and other toppings. I love mine topped with fruit.