It seems that as I am nearing the end of the annual challenge on The Plain Kitchen, the nostalgia has well and truly kicked in. I went to Devizes market on Thursday- I hardly ever go these days as time just doesn’t allow for it, but somehow things worked out and I was able to go. I spotted a South African flag flying at one of the stalls, and, along with all of the other bits and pieces I bought, I managed to find Maltabella at the South African stall. Maltabella is sorghum porridge; it is the gorgeous, deep chocolate colour you see before you, and has a wonderful smooth, yet slightly grainy texture. Now, the ingredients on the pack state Sorghum and salt- but the description says malted sorghum- which implies that malt may have been used in the process. South African labelling is not as detailed and exact as the British system- so I reckon if you are coeliac, this brand, Maltabella, may not be for you. You can, though, buy pure sorghum flour, and I really think this would work perfectly. I also haven’t lost my marbles completely- you may feel this is a rather Wintery recipe, but quite frankly I have needed a bit of comfort over the last miserable rain-drenched week.
Our childhood was Maltabella- cold crisp Winter days on the farm meant that breakfast was either Jungle Oats or Maltabella: we loved both, and mum, and Flora who worked for us in the house, both used lots of butter in the making of their porridges. Flora made way better porridge than my mother. She was such a huge influence on us growing up; a second mum to my brother Simon and I, and even more so after mum died. She was kind, and patient, and funny, and played rough and tumble with us- we adored her. She had been a seamstress in a factory, and was made redundant, and paid us a visit the week we moved onto the farm, which was one of the luckiest things to ever happen to us. Flora was Zulu; but crucially for my father, Flor spoke fluent English too, and my father could only speak a smattering of Zulu. So, not only did Flora help mum in the house, she was my father’s interpreter on the farm. Flora and my mum were exceptionally close, and she never got over the death of my mother. Even I, going through my childhood pain, noticed the sharp, inexorable hurt Flora experienced: and she was inconsolable.
As I made this, I thought so much of Flor. We would have had lots of melted butter on our Maltabella, and milk, so my addition of the rather extravagant cream is not really true to the original. It is so good though. This recipe makes 2 large bowls of porridge, with a generous helping of cream.
1 cup (250ml) sorghum porridge
1 cup cold water
About 400-500 ml boiling water
Good knob of butter (about 20g)
For the cream:
200ml double cream
2 tbsp maple syrup
½ heaped tsp cinnamon
To make the porridge, use a heavy bottomed saucepan., and keep the heat fairly low. Add the salt and porridge and the 250ml cold water, and mix to make a slight paste. Keep stirring on a low heat for about a minute. Then add the boiling water gradually, whisking or stirring as you go, so as to discourage any lumps forming. You then need to turn the heat up a little, and stir the porridge to cook it for about 6-8 minutes. Add a little extra water if you feel it needs it: think about the consistency you want, remembering too that you are going to be serving this with cream. Towards the last few minutes of cooking, stir through the butter.
The cream is a very quick procedure: in a small saucepan, heat the three ingredients for about a minute, gently. Then remove from the heat.
Ladle the hot porridge into bowls, and ladle the cream over the porridge. Serve immediately.