Cooking Recipes for African Porridges

photo by Nick Webb

photo by Nick Webb

When Westerners think of porridge … they picture a bowl of steaming oats, with dash of brown sugar and milk. A cooking recipe for a cold winter morning.

But porridges around the world—while maintaining that comfort food status—are doing more than warming tummies. They are ending malnutrition in children. Here are four porridge recipes from  Food for the Hungry (FH) communities in Ethiopia and Mozambique.


Genfo (Ethiopian Porridge)

In Ethiopia, genfo is a favorite comfort food. It’s also a porridge cooking recipe that FH staff teaches to parents in nutrition classes. Parents, like Demberai, in Lay Gayint in northern Ethiopia, learned to cook genfo to improve the health of their children. In some communities, it’s made with potatoes—but here is a traditional genfo recipe.

1 cup barley flour
2 cups boiling water
1 tablespoon berbere
2-3 tablespoons niter kibbeh or butter

Plain yogurt (per your preference)

Mix flour and water into a paste with no lumps. Make the paste into a round dough and indent a hole in the middle to hold melted butter (or niter kibbeh) and berbere spice. You can also add plain yogurt around the edges when serving.  Watch this youtube video by Ms. Bisserat on how to make.

Echa and Rehema are now both healthy.

Echa and Rehema are now both healthy.

Echa’s Porridges

In Quirinde, Mozambique, mothers like Echa are learning to make porridges to feed her children for weight gain and growing. Echa used this cooking recipe to treat her daughter Rehema for malnutrition. Now, Rehema is 3 years old and healthy.

Maize Porridge
4 cups boiling water
1 cup maize meal
¼ cup ground (almond, cashew or other nut) flour
1 tablespoon of coconut oil
¼ cup of sugar
Crushed, dried Moringa leaves

Boil water and stir in maize meal slowly. Continue to mix while adding nut flour, until water is absorbed. Mix in oil, sugar and moringa leaves.

Sweet Potato Porridge
3 sweet potatoes, boiled
1 tablespoon of coconut oil
½ cup of maize meal
2 cups of boiling water
¼ cup of sugar

Boil water and cook maize. Then boil sweet potatoes, peel and mash them together and add coconut oil, cooked maize and sugar.

porridge ingredientsMomedi’s Porridge

In Chuculua (pronounced Chaa-koo-luha), Mozambique, a man named Momedi took some classes with FH to learn how to make porridges to improve the health of his children.

After these basic classes, he started to experiment and came up with recipes popular in his community. Here is one of his favorites.


1 cassava
3 regular-sized tomatoes
1 small onion
2 cans of coconut milk
½ cup of grated coconut
5-7 ounces of fish (tilapia)
1 tablespoon of salt

Boil peeled cassava for 40 minutes until you can mash it with a fork. Boil skinned fish for ten minutes. Add boiled cassava (after mashing into a smooth paste) and fish into pot with coconut milk, grated coconut, chopped onions, chopped tomatoes, salt and cook for 20 minutes. Serve hot.

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About Renee Targos

Renee is a former journalist and editor for national arts and business publications. As a writer for Food for the Hungry, Renee explores and reports on the work and relationships of partners, FH staff and impoverished communities.

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