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Burundi Goat Rehabilitation Project

Alliance Burundaise pour la Coopération et le Développement &
Austrian Help Program

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Pictures of how our staff made this dish are at the end of the recipe

In much of rural Africa, where there is no electricity or gas, breads, biscuits, and cakes are steamed over a wood or charcoal fire.  Recently, we were without gas and electricity for several weeks and so used charcoal.  Here is a cornbread that we made – the recipe comes from Swaziland, in southern Africa, and is typical of steamed breads.  A bit of a twist, though – the dough is placed in green corn husks and steamed over corn cobs, imparting a very unique and slightly piquant flavor.  A little difficult, but fun and unique – try it!

'Mealies' – or corn [maize] – is the staple crop in southern Africa

6 medium green mealies (fresh corn/maize)
approx. 3 cups shelled mealies
1 cup self-rising flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tablespoon butter
2 eggs, beaten
salt to taste
sugar – if a sweeter bread is preferred

Do not throw away the corn cobs and husks as they are used to steam the bread and help to impart a rich mealie flavour to the bread.

Shell the tender kernels, ensuring you capture their juices

  • Chop in a food processor – or pound in a mortar
  • Mix green mealie mixture with sugar, salt and flour
  • Rub in the butter
  • Add the baking powder & well-beaten eggs
  • Mix to a soft-dropping consistency
  • Add more flour or liquid as necessary


  • Place shelled cobs in the bottom of a very large casserole – if you don't have enough cobs, use a flat stone or brick and surround with cobs – see picture
  • Add boiling water until cobs are covered – water must be boiling to start the steaming process
  • Select inner, green husks to use for steaming the bread
  • Select a colander that will site nicely on top of the stone/brick & cobs
  • Line the  colander with the green husks
  • Spoon the mixture into these shaped, inner husks
  • Place on top of the cobs/stones in the large casserole
  • Cover large casserole
  • Place on charcoal cooker
  • Steam for approximately one hour, making sure the water does not boil away
  • -Source:  Dr NJ Shongwe, Commonwealth Veterinary Association Councillor, Swaziland


Omer, head cook and also a para-veterinarian on the project,  holds the large, external pot in which the flat stone surrounded by the corn cobs are placed.

All of the ingredients are shown here:  corn cobs tipped up on the flat stone that was placed in the casserole, colander lined with corn husks, flours, eggs, melted butter.  It was not possible to find ears of corn that were as green and fresh as we wanted

Pounding the corn in a mortar is a lot of work and so Omer  is helped by Enoch, a trainee, who is learning various cuisines with us.

Omer places the colander containing the batter  on top of the boiling water in which the large, flat stone and corncobs have been placed.  Ouch!  Pretty hot! A Pyrex pie plate has been put over the top of the colander.   Meanwhile, one of the pups snoozes in the background.

Hot water is kept next to the casserole, to add if water in which the mealie bread is cooking needs replenishing.

The batter has been mixed and placed in the colander, which is lined with the corn husks.  The husks are not green enough, and so were difficult to 'work'

A cover is placed on the casserole, which is cooking on an improved charcoal stove – a metal stove that has a clay liner, giving much more heat and using less charcoal.  The traditional style of charcoal stove commonly used is shown to the right, behind Omer.

Enoch happily shows the cooked mealie bread – having been cooked in steam, it does not turn brown.  But is very delicious, with a piquant taste brought about by the cobs and leaves.





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