Imifino is a collection of widely consumed African leafy vegetables that grow wild. It is the equivalent of morogo in Sesotho. Umfino (a combination of imifino and pap or maize meal) is a favourite Xhosa dish much loved for its nutritional value.
Integrative and functional nutritionist Mpho Tshukudu explains in her book with Anna Trapido, Eat Ting, that “because such plants often grow wild and are extremely drought-resistant, they are often dismissed as weeds. This is far from accurate. Many of them can provide more than 50% of the nutritional recommended daily allowance (RDA) of vitamin A. They are high in B vitamins and iron too.”
Imifino is also often referred to as wild spinach. Kale and swiss chard have become acceptable substitutes.
It’s a quick and easy dish to make. Wash and finely chop your spinach, kale or swiss chard. Bring water to the boil and stir in the maize meal – do so quickly to avoid lumps in the pap. Stir in the spinach and season with salt. Cook on low heat for 20 minutes. When using kale, it’s best to start with it in the pot. Bring to the boil and cook for 10 minutes, then add the pap afterwards.
There are plenty of ways to play around with umfino to make it your own. You can add cream, butter and cheese, spring onion, sweetcorn, or even sautéed cabbage.
Serve with tomato relish, creamy mushrooms or a meaty casserole – the choice is yours!