“Thank you for feeding us so well all these years,” writes Nelson Mandela to his personal chef, Xoliswa Ndoyiya, in her cookbook, Ukutya Kwasekhaya: Tastes From Nelson -Mandela’s Kitchen (Real African Publishers Pty, Ltd.). The book’s title means “home food” and speaks to the soulful meals Ndoyiya made as chef for -Mandela and his family. She worked with the political prisoner turned president and anti-apartheid hero until his death in 2013.

“I catered everything from family reunions to late-night political strategy sessions,” she says in the book. “So began the relationship with Madiba and his family that continues to this day.” Here are some of the South African dishes that brought Mandela and his loved ones joy. 

Citrus Pudding

1⁄4 cup butter, melted

7 ounces graham crackers 

13.5 ounces frozen orange
juice concentrate

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1 cup fresh cream, beaten until
soft peaks form

4 large egg whites, beaten until stiff

1 teaspoon lemon zest 

Grated lemon rind (optional)

In a glass dish, mix together butter and biscuits for the crust. Press into the base and sides of the dish. Place orange juice concentrate and lemon juice in a bowl or jug. Fold in cream and egg whites, then pour mixture over biscuit base. Sprinkle lemon zest on top and refrigerate until set, about 1 hour. Serve garnished with finely grated lemon rind, if desired.

Orange Turkey

1 13-pound turkey, fresh
or thawed 

1 tablespoon butter, melted

1 orange, thinly sliced


3 cups fresh orange juice

1⁄2 cup lemon juice

2 tablespoons paprika

3 tablespoons allspice

1 tablespoon all-purpose

2 tablespoons pumpkin pie

Stir all marinade ingredients together in a large container. Add turkey, coat well and leave to marinate for at leas

1 hour. Preheat the oven to 356˚F. Remove turkey from marinade, rub all over with butter and place breast side down in a roasting dish. Pour over with half the marinade, cover with foil and roast for 45 minutes. Remove foil and turn turkey over. Arrange orange slices on top, pour over with the remaining marinade and bake until brown and cooked through, about 1 hour 30 minutes (or depending on weight of turkey). Let rest before carving and serve with side dishes of your choice.

Peanut Butter & Spinach Soup

1⁄4 cup olive oil

1 medium onion, grated

2 medium potatoes, peeled

and grated

4 large carrots, grated

21 ounces spinach,
finely chopped

5 cups water

2 chicken stock cubes

2 tablespoons smooth
peanut butter

Salt and white pepper, to taste

Heat oil in a pot and sauté onion until soft and golden, about 5 minutes. Add potatoes, carrots and spinach, and mix to combine. Add water and stock cubes, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cook until potatoes are soft, about 15 minutes. Add peanut butter, blend well and cover the pot with a lid. Simmer on low heat for 10 more minutes. Season with salt and pepper and serve.

This feature originally appeared in the August 2017 Issue of ESSENCE Magazine.