Utshwala besiZulu/Zulu Beer/Umqombothi

Utshwala besiZulu / Zulu Beer / Umqombothi

No Zulu ceremony is complete without the ceremonial passing around of ukhamba (Clay drinking pot). Zulu Beer is central to the social culture of the Zulu people. Zulu beer is an alcoholic beverage which is made from maize (corn), maize malt, sorghum malt, yeast and water.
Course Drinks
Cuisine Zulu Traditional Foods
Keyword IsiZulu, Umqombothi, Utshwala besiZulu, Zulu Beer
Prep Time 2 days
Cook Time 2 days
Servings 7


  • 5 kg mealie meal
  • 2 kg maize malt (umthombo wombila)
  • 4 kg wheat malt (umthombo wamabele)
  • Cold Water
  • Boiling Water


Day 1

  • Mix 5 kg mealie meal, 2 kg maize malt and 1 kg wheat malt in the 25 L bucket.
  • Add cold water to reach ¾ level of the bucket and add 1 kettle of boiling water.
  • Mix all these ingredients together, place the lid on the bucket (But do not seal the lid, just place it on top.)
  • Leave the mixture to ferment overnight on a mat in a warm room.

Day 2

  • You should start to see the results of the fermentation in the mixture (it should be foamy). Stir to lift ingredients resting at the bottom of the bucket.
  • Fill the large pot with 3/5 of water and heat it to boiling point.
  • Slowly add the fermented mixture to the boiling water until it forms the same texture as that of porridge.
  • Once cooked, empty some of the contents of the pot into the large container and leave a little cooked mixture in the pot.
  • Slowly add more of the fermented mixture to fill the pot. You will have to keep adding warm water to ensure the porridge is smooth.
  • Repeat step 4 and 5 until all the fermented contents of the 25 lt bucket are cooked.
  • Leave the cooked porridge in the large container with the lid on top (do not seal the lid, just place it on top).
  • Allow to cool for the rest of the day and overnight.

Day 3

  • Add the remaining 3 kg wheat malt to the cold porridge mixture and stir the ingredients together.
  • Leave the cold porridge and wheat malt mix in the large container with the lid on top. Do not seal the lid, just place it on top.
  • Leave the mixture to ferment overnight on a mat in a warm room.

Day 4

  • On the morning of day 4, the contents of the pot should have the appearance of umqombothi – a thick, rich foamy layer flowing out of the container.
  • Stir the ingredients
  • Ivovo is a woven sieve and it is ideal for brewing umqombothi. Fill it with the mixture and twist to strain the liquid into the second large container.
  • Empty the sieve of the grains and repeat step 3 until all the mixture is strained.
  • Bring out ukhamba, the calabash, and serve your umqombothi.


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