Here are the ingredients that you will need:
- Malt (Sorghum or millet)
- Maize meal (also called Mielie Meal or Mielie Pap)
- Sugar (optional – to taste)
Now let’s jump straight into the real reason we are all here. A Zimbabwean drink called Mahewu! This is an African drink that you also get in other parts of Southern Africa, while in South Africa I heard mahewu being called mageu. One word is in Shona, the other; Zulu respectively… but if you move a few letters around and throw in an “h” it becomes more-or-less the same word. This being a common trait in most African languages. The other being: replacing the letter “R” with the letter “L” across different languages. Like most things organic, mahewu is an acquired taste. Below I have attached a video on how to brew your own mahewu, followed by some step-by-step instructions (at the end of this article).
Recipes from African cultures are hardly ever found in those fancy Cooking Books you snatched off Amazon. Unless the book was specifically written with African taste buds in mind. When I was growing up we would sit under a tree, watching as the grown-ups worked in the fields. They would be tirelessly racing against the hot-rising-sun. Trying to till the farmlands as much as possible, all the while using handheld hoes (yes, hoes – defined as: an ancient and versatile agricultural hand tool used to remove weeds by the roots, shape the soil, and harvest root crops). One had to plow as much of the filed as possible before the fire-in-the-sky made it too hot to continue working. For all this work, their reward was cold, natural, thirst-quenching mahewu! That is until their crops were ready to be harvested.. then, in that case, their next reward would be all the American dollars one would get from exporting or local farmer’s markets.
Videos and blog posts like this, are hoping to introduce more nations to traditional African things. The version of the recipe you saw in the video above is “modernized” in some ways. Reasons being (for starters) not all of us have traditional African pots laying around in our one-bedroom New York apartments. Authentic pots like the ones pictured below, add flavor to any African drink and cuisine.
You have to admit if Cynthia from Spin Class could see you with one of those big clay-bad-boys in the kitchen, the drink would definitely go down more deliciously. As mentioned above… these traditional clay pots weren’t just there for aesthetics. The soils used in making them (plus using cooking fires) also contribute towards the flavor of your food (or in this case: drink) leaving you with “the real McCoy”. Now… are you ready to do this \o/
Mahewu: step-by-step instructions
As mentioned at the start of this post you will need: water, malt, maize meal and sugar.
- Measure in half cup maize meal
- Add a little cold water
- Then stir into a paste
- Slowly add boiled water and stir again
- Keep stirring until mixed
- Now put on the stove and stir continuously
- If it becomes too thick add in more water
- Keep stiring on medium heat
- Leave to boil for at least five minutes
- Now put the boiled porridge into a bowl
- Now add some cold water and stir
- The mixture must not be too thick or too thin
- Leave the mixture to cool at room tempreture
- After cooling (add one tablespoon of sugar)
- Add 4 tablespoons of malted sofghum (or millet)
- And stir it all to mix
- Leave to ferment naturally for 24 hours
- Afterwhich you can add sugar to taste
I shall conclude by saying: traditionally, Africa has always had an intimate way of handing down knowledge and traditions. We do things orally down here, this means mothers tend to verbally teach the next generation all recipes and other crucial life lessons. Word of mouth has been the backbone of Africa’s cultural preservation, all this alongside ancient cave paintings that still hold (even today). Growing up now, I wish my favorite Bugs Bunny T-shirt had been printed with the same ink stuff, my ancestors used… am I right? Now my fading bunny has no ears, no eyes, legs, or hands to speak of. While these ancient cave paintings keep on going strong!