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Misunderstood: A Recipe for Tripe

Growing up in a South African household you become accustomed to animals being slaughtered for rituals or traditional gatherings: a big feast with different types of food. The main dish being served is usually tripe also known as Mogodu (Sotho) or uLusu (isiXhosa).

Tripe is the first 3 stomachs of a sheep, lamb, cow or ox. The first is the blanket tripe (due to its appearance), the second is called the honeycomb tripe and the third stomach is the book or bible tripe.

It’s an acquired taste, and its not so mouthwatering look may turn tummies. It’s probably the most misunderstood meal (maybe like the people who eat it). But that first bite into the succulent meat will definitely change your mind about this infamous dish, especially when served with dumplings and fried spinach.

In order for tripe to be edible it needs to be thoroughly and conscientiously cleaned. You briefly boil the tripe so that the stomach lining can be peeled off, the extra bits of fat need to be cut off so that the dish can be more appetising. Some butchers offer this.

Tripe needs to be simmered in a large pot for 4 to 8 hours to give it that perfect tender taste. You can add potatoes and carrots to tripe, it takes on flavours really well. After you’ve mastered the recipe you can play around by adding tomatoes, masala, curry powders, vegetables and a whole lot of other things.

The method of this recipe is a bit unconventional, but it doesn’t compromise on flavours for the purists out there!


1 kg ox tripe, cut into squares (ask your butcher to clean the tripe)
60 ml vinegar
30 ml neutral oil, canola or sunflower
1 birds eye chilli, finely sliced
3 garlic cloves, crushed with the side of a knife
1 onion, roughly cut into eighths
6 carrots, sliced
4 large potatoes, quartered
2 bay leaves
1t curry powder
Beef stock cube (optional)
1t pepper
Cinnamon quill (optional, I first added cinnamon to cover the odours, it does, and adds a hint of sweetness, happy coincident)

Dombolo (Dumplings)

½ cup mielie meal
½ cup wholewheat flour (or plain flour)
5ml yeast
2T sugar
125 ml warm water
2,5 ml salt


To reduce the cooking odour, submerge tripe in water and add vinegar a day ahead or overnight. Keep covered.
Heat a large pot with oil to a medium heat. Add chilli, garlic, onion and carrot.
Allow the onions to brown slightly, this should take about 4 minutes.
Drain your tripe from the vinegar water. (If you’re feeding plants with the water make sure to sieve the fibris from the water)
Add the tripe to your pot and cover with water. (Don’t use your soaking water, it will defeat the point of soaking in vinegar to reduce the smell)
Bring to a boil. Once at boiling point reduce to a simmer, with the lid on, on a medium to low heat. (If you want to reduce the smell, throw in a tablespoon of vinegar and the cinnamon quill)
Allow to gently simmer for at least 6 hours. On the sixth hour add the stock cube (optional) and potatoes. Allow to simmer for a further hour.
Uncover and let the liquid reduce to a sauce-like consistency checking it doesn’t stick. Add pepper and salt if needed (go easy on the salt).
Add dumplings at this point.

Dombolo (Dumplings)

Once your tripe is simmering, you can start with your dumplings.
Combine and mix all the dry ingredients, add water and stir until combined.
Once combined get in there and start kneading until your arms hurt, ± 10-15 minutes.
Rub a R5 coin size of oil in your hands and coat dough. Sit dough in a bowl and cover, leave in a warm environment for 1 hour.
Once risen make 6 small balls of dough and leave covered to rise again until ready to use.
Add the dumplings to the top of the dish during the last 20 minutes of cooking, cover and let steam. Test if they’re ready by piercing dumplings with a skewer, it should come out without a struggle.

Serve with chakalaka and steamed spinach.

Khanyisile Mhlana studied public relations and works as a promoter at a company called Holla. She enjoys travelling, watching and playing sports, and cooking. One day she’d love to own a food truck, and then hopefully a restaurant.

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