If you are a regular reader of this blog, you will know that all recipes featured here have endearing childhood memories associated with them. None however to the same extent as samp! Amma‘s samp was braised in butter, with decadent amounts of thinly sliced onions, dried chillies and jeera. It was one of our favourite lunch meals, best enjoyed with tomato chutney or herbs curry. This post features two recipes, jump to the recipe or scroll to continue reading.
Amma’s Homemade Samp
Image Source: @mpetrick
I mentioned Amma‘s samp project in the mealie bread recipe. Growing up, we often experienced food from seed to table and participated in the planting and harvesting processes because Amma‘s garden contained nearly every vegetable imaginable. We even grew mealies in two separate ‘gardens‘ away from home! Going there was like an excursion. One year we had such an excess that even after selling some, there was still surplus left over. Amma‘s samp project was to make homemade samp, by shelling dried mealies, boiling then peeling off the skin of the maize kernels by hand. My two sisters and I spent the better part of one school holiday making homemade samp! It was definitely worth the effort because it was the best.
What is Samp
Samp (Umngqusho), also known as Hominy, is essentially shelled maize kernels. Unlike Amma‘s homemade samp, commercially produced samp is made through a process of Nixtamalization, where maize kernels are soaked in an alkaline solution. This helps remove the skin of the kernel, dissolves otherwise non-digestible elements and prevents maize kernels from sprouting when stored. It is a popular ingredient in Mexican and Southern African cuisines.
Where to Buy Samp
I haven’t had samp in years and had considered making my own before I came across it in an Indian food store that sells both Asian and African foods! Samp can be found in nearly every South African supermarket. If you are abroad, try Mexican or African food stores or in some cases Indian Shops which sell African food.
How to Cook Samp
Samp is best cooked like other legumes and beans, by soaking overnight then boiling until soft. After boiling it can be prepared by braising, added to a meat stew or made creamy like risotto. Samp can be served as a side dish or meal on its own.
Samp and Beans Recipe
Samp and Beans were a typical meatless Monday dish, featuring at least once a month. Amma often boiled the samp and beans together, I prefer the same as it enables a fusion of flavours. This also results in a brown appearance, if you prefer samp to remain white then boil the two separately before braising. Amma‘s term braising meant tempering onion, jeera, or mustard seeds and dried chillies in oil. This method is also used to make pumpkin curry, braised dhal and kadala. This braised samp recipe is both easy and delicious it requires no milk or cremora, yet has a creamy texture to it form the use of butter or ghee. It can be enjoyed on its own or as a side to vegetable curry or grilled meat.
Mutton and Samp
Mutton and Samp make for a hearty Autumn or Winter meal. It is samp and or beans simmered in a spicy mutton curry. I prefer a dry mutton curry base with no whole tomatoes, just tomato paste for a thick gravy. Boiled samp is added over the curry layer then allowed to boil through, just like in the process of making a Durban biryani. I prefer using the shoulder or neck lamb or mutton meat cuts with bone, to make a hearty stew-like dish, reminiscent of dhal ghost. For this recipe, I have used samp and beans. To make with samp only, simply boil samp on its own.