HomeAfrica DreamsSouth African Recipes

A number of people have emailed me asking for more traditional tribal recipes from South Africa.
In response to these requests I will be adding additional ethnic recipes to the South African recipes section of the Afri Chef African Recipes site.

In the meanwhile a traditional Zulu Recipe for IMFINO YEZINANGA or Pumpkin Leaves and Peanuts.


1/2 lb pumpkin leaves (220g)
6 oz peanuts (groundnuts) (140g)
1 1/2 cups milk (400ml)
Salt and pepper to taste


Thoroughly wash the pumpkin leaves and tear them into relatively small pieces.
Crush the peanuts in a mortar using a pestle but do not grind them into a paste.

Pour the milk into a saucepan and bring to almost boiling.
Add the pumpkin leaves and simmer until the leaves become tender.
Add the crushed peanuts and simmer for a further 12 to 15 minutes.
Add the salt and pepper to taste, stirring well to ensure even distribution..

Serve hot as a vegetable with a stiff maize porridge or meat.

NOTE: Water may be used in place of the milk or the quantity of milk can be reduced by 1/2 cup and 1/2 cup of single cream may be added. This will either reduce or increase the richness of the dish.

I have specifically chosen a Zulu recipe using pumpkin leaves because although pumpkin leaves are a valued vegetable in rural Africa they seem to be relatively disregarded in the rest of the world.
I would hazard a guess that many people don?t know that pumpkin leaves are edible and are in fact quite a tasty vegetable.

For more examples of traditional South African Recipes click SOUTH AFRICAN RECIPES

THANKS!… Africhef



South African Recipes — 24 Comments

  1. Dear Michael, strange as it may seem you are quite right people generally are not aware that you can cook pumpkin leaves. I am pleased to see a recipe that brings back the old traditional ways of cooking. I grew up in Swaziland which is native to cooking all sorts of leaves that grow in yr back yard. I accidently came across yr page looking for traditional SA pumpkin bread recipes. Good page keep up the good work.

    Best wishes Lynette

  2. Hi Michael,

    Thanks for the recipes, especially the pumpkin leaves.
    Are all pumpkin leaves edible? At what stage of development is it best to cut and use them?



  3. Hi Ella-Bella

    Best place to get pumpkin leaves is from a pumpkin patch.
    That is if your speciality greengrocer doesn’t have them.


  4. hi i was wondering if you could help me with a desription of
    how pumpkins are produced, store3d and uses for my skool project on south african food

    this would help soooo much. thanks !!!! xxx

  5. dear micheal

    I am a south african expat and i am really interested in your website. I am sorry to say that things that happen to us whether good or bad you come out the winner in the end.

    Just to let you know more about my family you can look up the first white family to live in a balck squater camp in south africa called lindelani, my mom is the true hero there when south africa was just coming out of apartheid.

  6. Hi nina….

    Interesting about lindelani… My wife went to school at Waterford in Swaziland….

    She’s currently voluntary chairperson of a NPO looking after children orphaned as a result of HIV/AIDS

  7. Hi Michael,
    Just came across your website and saw Nina Arnotts message. I am her mother and as she said we were the first white family to live in Lindelani. I look back many days to our life there with fond memories, Both Nina and myself are now living in Scotland and often wish for the freedom of our life in Lindelani and especially the sunshine

    Kind regards Nina Botha ( known in Lindelani as Ma-alex)

  8. Hmmmm… pumpkin leaves… I may have to grow my own. Is there anything common in the US I could substitute?

  9. Hi, I am fascinated with the idea of eating pumpkin leaves, as usually in our climate we don’t get many pumpkins, but lots of leaves. Can you comment on their nutritional value – similar to spinach?
    Also, what about all kinds of squash leaves, are they edible too?

  10. Hi Louise

    As a leafy green vegetable pumpkin leaves contain relatively high quantities of minerals, trace elements and certain vitamins. It contains high concentrations of vitamin A

    As a matter of interest seeds of all pumpkins and squashes are also edible

    It should be noted that you need young leaves the old ones become too tough.

    Jennifer: You could have a look at using collard greens as a substitute: I seem to recollect you purchasing my Africhef African Recipes Cookbook. It contains a simple but tasty recipe for Okra and Pumpkin leaves.

  11. Here in Papua New Guinea (South Pacific) Pumpkim leaves (or tops/tips) are part of every day eating. We use the young leaves because they are softer, the stringy outer part of the stem is removed and then the leaves are cooked.
    The leaves are usually creamed with coconut and boiled.
    They can also be fried with garlic, onions, ginger, (and any other vegetable of your choice)and tinned fish, corned beef or any other meat or added to any meat you have cooking in a pot on the stove.

  12. all i can say is since the year 2000 i have met alot of african people and the friendship they have shown me is unreal, they are all so far wonderful people. charlotte from congo is realythe tops, she shows me how to cook many things and i have put many meals together for visiting friends. they are flabergasted when i stat the washing up or even cooking the meal in the first place . I need to learn as much as i can because i just love cooking and aspecially for my african friends . Tony

  13. Pumpkin seeds are available from any garden store, try a miniature variety, they grow easily and spread like crazy. You’ll be cutting leaves for dinner and plenty more will appear. Just about the easiest plant to grow from seed I have seen!

  14. I first tried pumpkin tops while living in rural Transkei but never knew how to cook them. I have recently grown some pumpkins and was looking for a recipe on the internet and came accross this website. What a bonus to find the recipe and others from other parts of the world. I remember being offered the liquid in which the leaves were cooked to drink as well, very tasty.

  15. We spent 5 years living near Mapumulo in Kwa-Zulu-Natal but I wasn’t aware that peanuts were used a lot for cooking in the area. We also lived in Nigeria where peanuts were grown easily and peanut stew was a staple.

  16. Hi Michael
    The Zulu word for pumpkin is ithanga,therefore I think you have a typo, and it should read Imfino yezinthanga.I grew up in the Ixopo district and the terminal leaves of the runners were used with perhaps some of the soft leaves and male flowers as well to make up a suitable quantity.This green relish without peanuts, was eaten with uphuthu.The modern trend seems to be the addition of a tablespoon of crunchy peanut butter.I am always amused by the modern Zulu name for peanuts being amaNkinats derived from monkey-nuts in turn from the English description of those little bags of peanuts in the shell sold at the various Botanic gardens and Zoos for people to feed to the animals in those days.
    Congratulations on an interesting website.
    Geoff Wyatt

  17. I found your site by trying to learn whether I can substitute squash leaves in the making of greek dolmades when it calls for grape leaves. I still don’t have an exact answer-guess I will experiment.

    In Texas where I live the soil is thin and alkaline, the rain water sparse, and gardening successfully takes more effort, smarts, luck(and money if you have it.) I find the very thought of throwing out all those lovely edible greens a shame. Thank you for your interesting site.

  18. guys and girls, you need to google “gulai lemak pucuk labu” on google image and there are tons of entries on squash leaves dishes. The snag is, they are in Malaysian language!!!!
    Anyway, the idea is to make use of those young squash tops or tips and cook them just like you would for spinach, in stew or soup like medium, adding soup stock, coconut milk, shrimps or anchovies, chile, onion, garlic and a dash of Nampla (Thai fish sauce) for salty seasoning.

    No need to worry of those hairy like skin on the stalk and leaves. They wilt into soft bits and make sure you rinse them good, cut them into small bite size and toss them into a simmering stew or soup at the very last cooking stage.
    Eat it with hot white rice

  19. I come from suriname and we eat all kinds of leavy greens. Thanks for the pumpkinleaf recipe. I will defenitly try this because I have it so much that it frustrates me.

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