Mieliepap and sheba served with braaivleis are as South African as biltong, melktert and koeksisters. What better time to celebrate these South African mainstays than Heritage Month? Liezel Lüneburg tells us more.

September is the ideal time of year to try traditional South African dishes, of which pap and braaivleis are certainly not the least. Pap is enjoyed by all South Africans, irrespective of culture or race, and plays a part of our heritage as a nation. One of my most vivid childhood memories is of my father, Piet, stirring a black cast iron pot of krummelpap in a very precise manner, best described as “with cutting movements”. “You boil water, add salt and pour the maize meal into the pot so that one third is visible above the surface of the water,” he taught me and my two sisters.

No pap is really pap without a yummy sheba sauce to serve with it, and since I can remember, my mother, Retha, has cooked sheba to go with the pap.

Another favourite memory is of my beloved Gogo Liesbet, who worked for my parents for 36 years and played a huge role in my upbringing. When I was still a child, my mother took pottery classes every Wednesday morning and Gogo cooked traditional stywe pap and boerewors with sheba sauce for lunch.

My father, mother and Gogo share their recipes:

You will need
• 1½ cups water • 2 cups maize meal/braaipap (I could never quite master the “one third” rule and have figured out a workable pap/water ratio) • Salt to taste • 1 can of creamy-style sweetcorn.
Bring the water to a boil and add the salt.
Add the maize meal/braaipap to form a pyramid in the water. Do not stir at this point.
Put the lid on the pot and let the pap simmer for 10 to 12 minutes at a low heat.
Now it is time to mix the pap. Use a large braai or meat fork to stir the meal and water until it is loosely crumbly and fluffy.
Put the lid on and steam at low heat until the pap is cooked. Although it will be ready after half an hour, the pap will definitely be tastier if it is cooked for longer. Piet cooks his for up to 2 hours.
Mix in the sweetcorn and cook for another 15 minutes or so.
Enjoy with sheba sauce and, of course, braaivleis! Or with milk or butter and sugar. If you are brave, you could also eat it with custard.

Krummelpap should be stirred with ‘cutting-like’ movements

Gogo’s sadza/stywe pap
You will need
• 2 cups of water • 1½ cups of fine maize meal • Salt to taste.
The method for krummelpap and stywe pap is nearly the same, with only a few differences.
Bring the water to a boil and add the salt.
Add the maize meal to form a pyramid in the water. Resist the urge to stir.
Put the lid on the pot and let the pap simmer for 10 to 12 minutes at a low heat.
Use a wooden spoon to mix the meal and water until it is well mixed to form a firm pap without any lumps.
Put the lid on and steam at low heat for approximately 1 hour until the pap is cooked.
Enjoy with sheba sauce. You can roll the pap into small balls and dip it in the sheba.

Gogo Liesbet enjoys balls of stywe pap with sheba sauce

Sheba sauce
You will need
• Oil for sautéing the onions • 1 large onion or 2 medium ones, finely chopped • 1 tbs curry powder – use hot, medium or mild powder and add more or less, depending on taste • 1kg of tomatoes, chopped (any type will do fine – you could also use three cans of chopped or whole tomatoes, it is not necessary to peel them) • 2 tbs Worcester sauce • 3 tbs chopped fresh herbs – use a combination of basil, marjoram, oregano, parsley or rosemary • ½ a cup of chutney • Salt and pepper to taste.
Heat the oil and sauté the onions until translucent.
Add the curry powder and fry for a minute longer at low heat to enhance the flavour. Stir continuously to prevent the curry from sticking to the pot or burning. Add more oil if necessary.
Now add the rest of the ingredients and simmer for approximately 1 hour at a low temperature. Stir every now and again.
And voila! You have a pot of delicious sheba to enjoy with your pap.

Tasty sheba sauce


  • Uphuthu (isiZulu) or krummelpap roughly translates to “crumbly porridge” and sadza (Shona) or stywe pap to “stiff porridge”. Sheba sauce is a tomato relish and is also called tamatiesmoor in Afrikaans.
  • Braaipap meal is usually coarser than ordinary maize meal and makes a wonderful, crumbly krummelpap.
  • Yellow maize meal is made from yellow corn and slightly more nutritious than white maize meal, which is made from white corn.
  • A cast iron pot or a pot with a heavy bottom works best. When the bottom is too thin, the pap tends to burn.
  • Stirring the pap could be tricky, but do not lose all hope when you do not get it perfect the first time. Just keep on trying.
  • Don’t worry too much if the pap burns. The burnt taste gives a different flavour to the pap which is not unpalatable at all. And the pieces of burnt pap sticking to the bottom of the pot are delicious when eaten with butter!

Photographer: TANYA ERASMUS




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