Heritage Day recipe: Beef stew with isigwaqane

Chef Lerato Zondi’s beef stew with isigwaqane recipe. Picture: Supplied

Chef Lerato Zondi’s beef stew with isigwaqane recipe. Picture: Supplied

Published Sep 19, 2022


Do you love isigwaqane but don’t know where to start when cooking it? Chef Lerato Zondi has the perfect recipe for you.

What is isigwaqane?

Isgwaqane is a scrumptious Zulu traditional dish, made using simple ingredients like beans and maize meal. It goes well with stews, potjie, or even braaied chops or sausage with some chakalaka.

On this Heritage Day, Zondi says she wants to demonstrate how local ingredients can be used in many different ways to create dishes that are exciting, tasty and quintessentially South African.

The 25-year, who graduated from Capsicum Culinary Studio in 2014 and lives in Thornton, Cape Town, says her goal in life is to challenge her community and culture to be more open-minded to food around the world, but more importantly to introduce the world to South African flavours.

“I celebrate my beautiful Zulu culture every day, but I think Heritage Day is a great reminder of the richness that is my culture and I am proud to call myself a Zulu. It’s also just so beautiful to acknowledge how blessed we all are to have such diversity and it’s so important to celebrate who we are and where we come from,” she says.

Chef Lerato Zondi’s beef stew with isigwaqane recipe. Picture: Supplied

Below is chef Lerato Zondi’s beef stew with isigwaqane recipe.

Beef stew


1.2kg beef

2 onions, diced

2 celery stalks, with the tops

4 carrots

2 tbs toasted and ground cumin

2 tbs toasted and ground coriander

1 tbs salt

1 tsp pepper

125ml ginger

6 cloves garlic, mashed

300ml tomato purée

4 tbs sugar

3 bay leaves

2 chillies (optional)

Bunch of fresh coriander

1 litre of liquid beef stock


Cut beef into cubes, season with salt and pepper, and allow to marinade for 1 hour. Dice onion, chop carrots and celery, and set aside. Blend tomato purée with ginger and garlic (and the chilli if using). In a large pot heat oil and seal off the beef on medium heat, then set aside. In the same pot sauté the onions until translucent then add carrots and celery. Place the beef back into the pot and add the spices and bay leaves then mix. Add the blended tomato purée and beef, cover, and simmer for 2 hours. Remove the lid and 1 hour to reduce the liquid. Add chopped fresh coriander and adjust the seasoning



1 cup raw red beans

1 tsp salt

2 heaped tbs butter

½ onion, diced

3 cups maize meal

2 tbs Aromat


Soak the beans in 4 cups of hot water for an hour till they double in size. It’s important they stay covered in water to avoid uneven cooking. Once soaked, drain excess water. Dice the onion and place in a large, deep pot. Add the beans, the salt, and 2 litres of water and cook over medium heat until soft then lower the heat. In a separate bowl mix 2 cups of maize meal and 2 cups of water. Mix well then slowly pour into the pot of beans and mix with a wooden spoon for 5 minutes. Once the mixture starts to thicken slightly add the rest of the dry maize stirring in slowly. Steam is what cooks this dish so spread the mixture in the pot creating a seal to trap in the steam then close the lid and cook for 45 minutes, checking and stirring every 5-10 minutes. It’s okay if it starts sticking to the bottom of the pot as long as it isn’t burning. Once cooked, add the butter and the Aromat then taste. You can serve them as is but to take it a step further, turn them into balls.

To make the balls you will need a maize meal and 2 beaten eggs (add more if you want more balls). Mould the cooled isigwaqane into balls and coat well in maize meal, beaten eggs then maize meal again. Deep fry in 1.5 litres of hot oil over medium heat. Fry until golden yellow. Serve with the beef stew.

You can also turn the isigwaqane into canapés: Cut the tops off the fried balls and hollow out half of the isigwaqane mixture. Chop up the meat and carrots to size. Layer the sauce first then add the meat and sauce until full.

Read the latest IOL Food DigiMag here.