Polenta African Style (Soor)

This stiff, porridge like dish made from maize flour and water is practically the national dish in many African countries. In Somali we call this African dish soor. It is usually eaten using the hand. You pick up a small amount using three fingers and form a ball to scoop vegetables or meat. It won’t take long to get the hang of eating this way, but do take your time if you are eating with me as I usually get a kick watching novices try!

Soor has many names around Africa…sima or ugali in Kenya and Tanzania where it is also made using maize flour though sometimes red millet flour is used as well. In Malawi and Zambia it is called nsima, pap or mealie in South Africa. In west African countries such as Nigeria a soor like variation called fufu is made using cassava flour.

Soor has a subtle almost bland flavour that is best matched with a fully flavoured vegetable or meat dish. In Somalia butter and milk is sometimes added to the ingredients to soften the soor. In most other African countries the dish is made with just maize flour and water. At times I add various other flavourings such as a pinch of black pepper and cheese and it tastes amazing.

It is said that when you eat soor it sticks to your ribs, keeping you full and satisfied for longer.

Serve with vegetables or meat such as suqaar or lamb and potato sugo. I love eating soor with yoghurt and a drizzle of honey. Many Somalis like to eat soor with milk and sugar.

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Polenta African Style (Soor)

Recipe by:


2 cups finely ground white or yellow maize flour (corn)
4 cups water
2 tablespoons butter (optional)
Salt to taste


  1. Heat the water until it comes to boiling point.
  2. Add half a cup of the maize flour. Stir using a flat wooden spatula. Slowly add in the rest of the flour ensuring that no lumps form. You will notice the mixture getting thick. Use the wooden spatula every two minutes to mush the mixture. Keep doing this for about ten minutes or until the soor no longer sticks to the pan. That is the sign of well cooked soor!
  3. Tip the soor onto a flat plate and shape into a round or square mound. Cut into slices and serve. Alternatively serve individual portions in your desired shape.
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Serves: 4 - 6 people

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