Recipe for an African Dish: Putu Pap (Maize Porridge)

November 16, 2020  |  By Liz SanFilippo Hall
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A picture of Table Mountain in Cape Town at sunset during a South African tour with The International Kitchen.An African barbecue isn’t complete without putu pap, which is also known as Krummelpap or “crumbly porridge,” because it’s a staple dish of South Africa, particularly in Cape Town. This recipe comes from Chef Sidney, who for many years taught our clients at his cooking school.

Putu pap is made from maize and just a little bit of water, making it a dry, crumbly dish. But it’s also a delicious one that pairs perfectly with Chakalaka sauce and chicken galinha à Africana; all of these dishes come from Sidney’s childhood when he grew up on the plains of Zululand.


Putu Pap (African Maize Porridge)

Serves: 8A pot of African porridge, or putu pap, cooking over an open fire.
Prep time: 1 minute
Cook time: 35 minutes
Cook method: Simmer


  • 1 lt water
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 800 grams maize meal
  • 2 tbsp butter


1. In a pot with a heavy bottom, preferably cast iron, bring the water to a boil. Add salt.
2. Add the maize meal to the water by aiming for the center of the pot. This should create a tower of maize that comes out of the water. Do not touch the maize tower.
3. Place a lid over the pot, and keep the pot on low heat for around 18 minutes (or until the maize absorbs all the water).
4. Stir the porridge with a large fork until it becomes crumbly.
5. Add just one cup of water. The water should instantly be absorbed by the porridge, stir again.
6. Replace the lid and steam the mixture over low heat for about 15 minutes. Do not open lid too often, but only once or twice to stir and to make sure that it is not burning.
7. When the putu pap is ready to serve, stir in the butter.

When making this African speciality, Chef Sidney says it’s completely normal if a crust forms at the bottom of the pot. Additionally, you can make this dish in a very traditional way by cooking it over a fire (but only if you have a cast iron pot)! Last but not least, as a porridge, you can easily add other flavors to the putu pap. In particular, Chef Sidney likes sitting in a bit of drained sweet corn when it’s just about done cooking.

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By Liz Hall

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