Nobel Peace Prize Winner. Human Rights Warrior. Peace Icon.

Nelson Mandela was born Rolihlahla Mandela on this day in 1918. He was given the Christian name Nelson on his first day at school – a traditional practice leftover from colonial Africa. South Africa was then shackled by an apartheid system and for Nelson Mandela, the fight for a democratic South Africa was a long and arduous process – he was imprisoned for his beliefs for nearly 30 years. In 1994, he finally participated in his first election, and served as South Africa’s first democratically elected president till 1999, when he stepped down after a single term. 

Nelson Mandela, looking pensively out a windowSource: BK

On his journey to inspire a nation, he has inspired the world.

To celebrate his birthday, we’ve got an oxtail stew recipe from his very own cook. This stew with dumplings were his favourites, and were enjoyed by him and his family during his birthday celebrations.

Oxtail Stew (Umsila wenkomo) with Dumplings (Dombolo)
Serves 8
This oxtail stew is a personal favourite of Nelson Mandela's, and is served alongside homemade dumplings as part of a family banquet.
1873 calories
84 g
483 g
136 g
72 g
48 g
667 g
521 g
4 g
0 g
78 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
Amount Per Serving
Calories 1873
Calories from Fat 1225
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 136g
Saturated Fat 48g
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 15g
Monounsaturated Fat 63g
Cholesterol 483mg
Sodium 521mg
Total Carbohydrates 84g
Dietary Fiber 5g
Sugars 4g
Protein 72g
Vitamin A
Vitamin C
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
  1. For the stew
  2. 6 1/2 pounds oxtail, excess fat removed
  3. 1 teaspoon paprika
  4. 1 tablespoon barbecue spice (We used Robertsons)
  5. 5 large carrots, peeled and sliced
  6. 1/2 pound green beans, sliced
  7. 4 medium potatoes, peeled and quartered
  8. 1 packet oxtail soup powder
  9. Salt and white pepper, to taste
  10. For the dumplings
  11. 600g (5 cups) cake flour, plus extra for dusting
  12. 5ml (1 tsp) salt
  13. 5ml (1 tsp) sugar
  14. 10g (1 sachet) instant dry yeast
  15. 300ml (1.2 cups) lukewarm water
  16. 30ml (2 tbsp) butter
  1. For the stew
  2. Place the oxtail in a large pot and fill with just enough cold water to cover. Bring to the boil, and simmer till all the water evaporates. This will render out the fat.
  3. Once the oxtail browns in its own fat, add the paprika and barbecue spice. Top up with just enough water to cover the meat.
  4. Cover and simmer till meat is tender (about 2 hours), topping up water as necessary. The meat should always be immersed in liquid.
  5. Add the remaining vegetables and soup powder, and cook till the vegetables are tender (about 30 minutes).
  6. For the dumplings
  7. Sieve the flour and salt into a bowl and mix in the sugar and yeast. Gradually add the water, mixing until a soft dough is formed.
  8. Knead the dough until smooth and elastic, then cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set aside in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
  9. Melt the butter in a pot. Roll the dough into balls the size of your palm.
  10. Place the balls of dough in the melted butter and pour boiling water into the pot to a depth of 2cm.
  11. Cover with a lid and simmer over medium heat until the dumplings are cooked through, about 20 minutes.
  12. As the water evaporates the butter will begin to fry the base of the dumplings – keep an eye on them to check that they don‟t burn and add a little more water if necessary.
  1. The dough for the dumplings should be supple, but still workable by hand. If it's too wet for you to handle, you'll need to knead more flour in.
  2. Although it's not mentioned, we have found that Knorr oxtail soup sachets and Robertson's BBQ spice is very popular and commonly used in Africa. We have used these brands in this particular recipe. Springbok Delights very kindly provided us with the spices and soup sachets for this post.
Adapted from Ukutya Kwasekhaya: Tastes From Nelson Mandela’s Kitchen
I Ate My Way Through
 After much research, we’ve found out that birthdays aren’t widely celebrated in Africa, but if you’d like to try other African celebrational foods, here is a personal favourite from Hudu, owner of African Feeling, an African restaurant in Sydney. 

Hudu hails from North Ghana, and together with his chef – who is from South Ghana – they serve up a sampling of African delights from all over the region. Although dishes vary widely between and regions, Hudu remembers Guinea Fowl as the most prestigious meat that you would serve a guest in his tribe. He says, 

“If the president of Africa were to visit my tribe tomorrow, guinea fowl would be what we would feed him.” 


guinea fowl stewSource: Omid Tavallai

Unlike the photo above, the guinea fowl stew would be cooked up in a light soup or light stew, and served up with fufu – a dough-like side made with cassava or yams being boiled and pounded to a paste, as well as a variety of other vegetables and starches. 

African Feeling
1/501 King St, Newtown NSW 2042
Phone: 02 9516 3130

African Feeling on Urbanspoon

Promotional consideration was provided by Springbok Delights


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