Isinkwa Sombila

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Isinkwa Sombila is a traditional Zulu corn bread recipe, possibly a few hundred years old. It is not certain exactly how old this recipe is, as it has been handed down by word of mouth through many generations. Historically the maize used was a white kernel maize variety grown by subsistence farmers, before the introduction of hybridized and GMO maize produced by industrial farms.
This method of making bread is not being learned by younger generations because it is time consuming, and it is much easier these days to buy bread from a supermarket, or if the bread is homemade, the kernels are ground in a food processor, and baked in an electric oven. This recipe should not be allowed to disappear because it is part of the history and cultural cuisine of the Zulu people.

In order to make this bread, first the leaves are peeled off the cobs. The kernels are scraped from the cob, and the husks are set aside. The kernels are then pounded by hand, to a paste, on a heavy flat grinding stone. Some flour, salt and water, is mixed in with the paste to make a dough, which is then formed into a round shape. This loaf is then wrapped in the long green maize leaves, picked from the plant, that is tied into a knot at the top. The husks are placed at the bottom of a cast iron pot, to act as a trivet, and then the wrapped loaf is placed on top of the husks. About 2 cups of water are poured into the pot, which is then placed above a fire that has died down to hot glowing coals that need to be kept to a consistent temperature throughout the cooking time. The bread is ready when the water has cooked away. This takes about an hour. The bread is served with imfino, (wild cooked greens), beans, or meat stew, where it is very good for mopping up the juices of the stew.

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StateSouth Africa


Other info


Bread and baked goods

Indigenous community:Zulu
Nominated by:Melissa de Billot