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Posted on 21 March 2020, by Makhosi Mahlangu

I have always been fascinated by my grandmother’s cooking. This captivation was a result of the countless visits we made as kids to her delightful home.

The new Qebelengwana

I have always been fascinated by my grandmother’s cooking. This captivation was a result of the countless visits we made as kids to her delightful home. A large part of that delight emanated from her kitchen. Her kitchen was a haven for all the sensory delights. From the scintillating aromas and the divine tastes to the irresistible aesthetical pleasures of her meals, it is safe to say, my granny’s kitchen was a food paradise that elicited all the lovable human emotions.

Food has been my passion since I was nine years old. Suffice to say, a consequent development of both my grandmother’s culinary impressiveness and my own natural affinity for all the delectables. From that tender age, I was particularly intrigued by how deft my grandmother was in her kitchen exercises. The focal point of her modus operandi was and still is precision and perfection, even in the preparation of the simplest of meals. One such meal was from a recipe that combined flour and mealie meal to make a unique bun, which in the Ndebele language is known as Iqebelengwana/ Amaqebelengwane (plural).

This combination of flour and mealie meal and other baking ingredients such as sugar, salt and baking powder presents a mouthwatering dish that has been a household feature common in rural households. I was quite taken with this modest yet enjoyable traditional Ndebele dish (as I later realised), and thus as a fellow human being who cares for your enjoyment, I have decided to share with you the secrets of this pleasantness.

Upon becoming hooked on the simplicity of this recipe, I decided to do some research and see how it can be improved upon.  The basic ‘Iqebelengwana’ does not feature any additional toppings, but is served plain with a cup of tea or any other beverage. On the nutrition side, this is basically a serving of a high carbohydrate bun without any other nutritional extras. To balance this, I have created four appealing options or variations that you can try to spice up Amaqebelengwana in the comfort of your own kitchen.


The first option is what I term the Meaty Option; this option involves incorporating a meat flavour as the main topping. My preferred meat option is a chicken breast (because of the protein content) served with toppings of green pepper, red onion and a tablespoon of finely chopped Rosemary. You can stuff these ingredients into a warm Iqebelengwana. The second option is customized for my Vegetarian lovers. Slice a Qebelengwana in half, slice 2 tomatoes and lay a lettuce leaf onto each bottom half of the bun. Add some hard boiled egg, sliced tomato and a topping of Greek Yoghurt (you can use yoghurt of your choice).

Riding on the vegetarian option, the next option is tailored for the Vegan lovers. This option includes a slice of beetroot, tomato, onion rings and a topping of sugar beans. The beans are placed on top of the bun and served with a generous scattering of Parsley or Basil leaf. Placing the beans on top of the bun offers a succulent tinge that blends smoothly with the other ingredients. The last option is what I term the ‘High Protein Content’. This is a combination of peanut butter and banana. Drawn from the famous peanut butter banana sandwich, this option offers an experience to have a quick snack at any time of the day. The protein and the potassium from these two respective ingredients provide a very balanced nutritious taste and value to this option, complementary to the carbohydrates from the Qebelengwana itself.

There are different styles of having Amaqebelengwana. You can have it with a hot or cold beverage or not, the choice is up to you. Personally I prefer to have them with any vegetable/fruit smoothie.

One non-negotiable rule though of having Amaqebelengwana: “Serve with Love!”

Till next time, take care.


Watch the full video on how to Prepare Amaqebelengwana on YouTube: Prince Sivalo Mahlangu

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