Last Updated on October 5, 2020 by Chef Mireille
Nhopi – African Pumpkin Polenta – This Zimbabwe style polenta made even more delicious with pumpkin and peanut butter is a great seasonal gluten free side dish for fall. Serve it with any meat or vegetarian stew to absorb the gravy!
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Many countries have a version of a savory cornmeal porridge. The most popular the world over is polenta, but many other countries make variable versions of this Gluten Free Side Dish.
Whether it’s Coo Coo in Barbados and Funchi in Aruba, it can be a vegetarian side dish or fortified with protein for a meal on its own like Brazilian Xerem or Aruban Tutu.
The cuisine of the Caribbean has a lot of similarities with African cuisines, as that is where they were adapted from. So I found a lot of familiar dishes from my own culture when delving deep into Zimbabwe.
Their version of Cornmeal Cake is very similar to Jamaican Cornmeal Pudding, except they top theirs with sour cream instead of coconut milk.
Dovi, their Chicken Peanut Butter Stew is very similar to Suriname’s Chicken Peanut Butter Soup and Sadza is their polenta. This variation of polenta made with pumpkin was an interesting twist and as with many African dishes, there is some peanut in this version also, which gives this African Pumpkin Polenta an extra protein punch!
Check out the other savory cornmeal porridges from around the world!
Savory Cornmeal Porridges
- Xerem con Camarao – from Brazil
- Tutu – from Aruba
- Coo Coo – from Barbados
If you would like to know more about the many varieties of gluten free cornmeal that there are and how to utilize them all in your kitchen, check out this post here to learn all about Cornmeal, Polenta, Grits & more.
What type of pumpkin should I use?
You should use sweet, orange fleshed pumpkin like calabaza or kabocha.
You can also use canned pumpkin, but there will be a higher water content, so you may need to reduce the quantity of liquid when you make Zimbabwe pumpkin polenta.
PICK YOUR OWN PUMPKINS
Yes that’s right you can easily pick your own fresh pumpkins at your local UPICK FARM! Remember what Mom always said – Fresh is best!
What type of cornmeal should I use to make Nhopi – African Pumpkin Polenta?
I prefer the rich color from yellow cornmeal, but you can also use white cornmeal.
Ok let’s see what you are going to need to add to the shopping list this week to make delicious African Pumpkin Polenta.
The Ingredients for Nhopi
There are only 5 ingredients in this African side dish recipe that’s perfect for fall. You just need cornmeal (A.K.A. polenta), pumpkin, peanut butter, sugar, and salt.
For the richest flavor I recommend using a fresh pumpkin. But again, if pumpkins aren’t available, canned pumpkin will work and still be delicious. Just be sure to buy regular pumpkin and not pumpkin pie filling.
Have you tried instacart yet for convenient grocery delivery within 2 hours?
So creamy…perfect #comfortfood
Tips for the Best Pumpkin Cornmeal
- The fresh pumpkin can be peeled, steamed, and mashed a few days in advance of making this recipe. Simply store the cooled mash in a sealed container in the refrigerator until ready to use.
- This vegan and gluten free polenta dish is tastiest when enjoyed warm soon after making. Leftovers can be kept in the fridge for up to 4 days, but I do not recommend that you freeze. Reheat pumpkin and peanut butter cornmeal in the microwave or on the stovetop with a splash of water. Stir consistently until hot.
What goes well with this African Pumpkin Polenta recipe?
Zimbabwe Pumpkin Polenta is a delicious side dish that is perfect when paired with stews or other dishes that have lots of gravy, like this simple Kuku – Kenyan Chicken Mung Bean Stew. The nhopi will absorb the gravy which will enhance the flavor.
You may also like to serve it over Ghanian Chicken Spinach Stew – Chicken Palaver. A delicious combo meal for any night of the week!
Nhopi – Zimbabwe Pumpkin Cornmeal
- 2 1/3 cups water
- 3/4 cup cornmeal
- 1 cup pumpkin peeled, cooked and mashed
- 2 tablespoons peanut butter
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Boil 2 cups of the water.
- Make a paste with half of the boiling water and the cornmeal.
- Slowly add cornmeal, stirring constantly. Simmer on low heat for 3 minutes.
- In a small bowl, whisk the pumpkin and the peanut butter together.
- Add pumpkin, sugar and salt along with 1/3 cup remaining water.
- Stir to combine and simmer for another 5-10 minutes, until thickened.
Try these other delicious cornmeal side dishes!
Need more culinary inspiration? Check out the Recipe Index with over 1500 Recipes from Around the World with lots of Vegetarian 🥕🍆🍅and Gluten Free Recipes!
Isn't it amazing how the cuisines are similar cross continents? Pumpkin cornmeal looks like nice side dish with stews. I still have 1/2 pumpkin we picked up from the farm. Wondering how to cook it. Maybe nhopi might be a good option to use it up.
Mir, thank you for all the history notes you gave us for each country. It was such a well researched and detailed account..enjoyed reading all your posts..this cornmeal looks so inviting and healthy!
The pumpkin and corn give this dish such a beautiful color. A very different accompaniment to gravy as compared to the breads and flat breads we see all the time.
The corn side dih with pumpkin looks healhy and delicious. .you have put in great efforts for this B M inspite of the busy schedule. .kudos Mir.
Serve me with some curry i can have this pumpkin cornmeal happily for my dinner.. A filling meal definitely.
I came across this one during my search but I was out of pumpkin so bookmarked and proceeded further 🙂 Looks interesting.
Creamy, hearty & filling cornmeal..
I am the only one who eats pumpkin and love this kind of dish.Am definitely trying this one.
And really enjoyed doing this series with you Mir., esp the culinary notes that you shared about each dish,,,
I guess when we stick with basic grains/ ingredients, the recipes somewhat become ubiquitous and seem to surpass cultures and continents. The nhopi sounds simple and yummy.
Loved reading thru your vegetarian posts and history notes. It was a pleasure running marathon with you.
cornmeal looks creamy & yum.
This cornmeal and pumpkin looks so interesting. Loved all your posts on this series Mir..
love this creamy and delicious porridge making me hungry 🙂 Loved reading all your post and well executed dear !!
Cornmeal with pumpkin looks delicious . Very nice recipe to end the journey..
This is a beautiful coloured pumpkin. Loved each and every dish you presented Mir and thanks for all the history you have given.
I love the fact that cornmeal can take on so many various flavours, love the idea of pumpkin and peanut butter. I can imagine a great accompaniment to stews or curries.
The Food Hunter
What an interesting dish. My mom is going to love it.
Great! I hope she does.
Bintu - Recipes From A Pantry
MMM proper comfort food, what would you serve it with?
any curry or stewed dish with lots of gravy is good to serve it with as the nhopi will absorb the gravy
Kate | Veggie Desserts
I bet this is delicious, particularly with the peanut butter!
it is one of my favorite comfort foods.
I love anything with pumpkin. It’s not a year-round flavor is our house, but it needs to be. Will try this recipe, thank you!
with my Caribbean parents, pumpkin is always about in my house:) I am sure you will love it!
Interesting side with gravy based dishes. I would love to try this with some spicy chicken .
yes it goes great with gravy dishes as it absorbs the gravy so well.