I BET you’re wondering why this imifino dish is red in colour. That’s what my cousins commented on when they saw it for the first time.

In the Xhosa culture imifino was known as food for women because they believed that men who eat imifino become weak. They used to snack on it between meals. In fact, it was one of those dishes used to socialise. The household that prepared this dish would invite other women from the neighbourhood to come eat together.

The women would sit on inkukho (grass mats) and eat imifino with their hands. In some households it would be served as a meal. Nowadays, some men do eat imifino, sometimes served with meat.

Originally, imifino would be made only with indigenous leaves or these would be blended with young pumpkin leaves (imithwane).

With indigenous leaves becoming scarce, cabbage and beetroot leaves or spinach are used.

One person who taught the imifino recipe using spinach and beetroot leaves was my mom, and her dish looks green as she uses more spinach than beetroot leaves and also less maize meal.

I wanted the recipe to look a bit different, so I used more beetroot leaves to give the dish a reddish colour. Imifino can also be modernised by adding mixed veggies and cheese.