I am feeling pleased a punch.  The cook book I have been working on for absolute ages as a fundraiser for the Mpophomeni Conservation Group has finally been published.  My design diva pal, Des, put it together just the way I dreamed it and I think it looks delicious.


My friends in Mpophomeni are the inspiration. How could I resist not sharing their stories and recipes when they say interesting things like this?

  • Hope Majozi (I call him my second favourite vegetarian in the world): “People are unaware. They do not realise the cruelty of meat production.”
  • Ntombenhle Mtambo: “Teaching young people to grow food and medicine and become more self- sufficient is the most important thing we can do – but it must be fun.”
  • Penz Malinga: “With animal agriculture now the leading cause of greenhouse gas emissions, we all have change our lifestyles, and eating more vegetables is a great start.”
  • Lindiwe Mkhize: “I worry about the kids – they need fresh nutritious food and plenty of water, not white bread and horrible juice filled with colourants.”
  • Tutu Zuma: “My food forest and medicinal plant garden keeps me strong and healthy. I have never been hungry – I eat green food throughout winter.”
  • France Mtshali: “If you want to live a long life work hard, eat fresh, local food and lots of greens.”
  • Sthembile Mbanjwa: “It feels nice to pick your own food that you have grown with your hands and to save seeds for the next season.”
  • Mary Mlambo: “Many young people don’t understand how important growing good food is. They want to be pilots and doctors, but you can’t get food from a plane or hospital.”

dancing in the rain 4

I feel very fortunate to have been able to combine all the things I care about – eating  plants rather than animals, using renewable sources of energy, living local, growing your own, foraging for wild greens, building community, brilliant colour  – in this book.  Lucky, lucky me!

So this is a tiny taste of what it is all about.

Seasonal cooking is never a chore.  It is a joy.  It is a celebration of colour and flavour, of the time of the year, of the love lavished by the gardener and cook.

In Mpophomeni township in the Kwa-Zulu Natal Midlands, joy is a fundamental part of living. Here food is grown from the heart, meals are meant to be shared and stories are told with pride.  In this book of fresh garden food, the people with their hands in the soil and their creative customers share their delight in seasonal produce.


Savour Sthembile’s handmade lasagne with just picked spinach, try Tutu’s sun-cooked rhubarb stew and make Ntombenhle’s famous vetkoek or her favourite crunchy fennel and orange salad.  Customers at the Mpophomeni Community Garden, Caroline Bruce, Oaklands County Manor, shares her recipe for Sauerkraut while Kate Chanthunya of Rondavel Soap shows us how to make a salad dressing using maas.  The imifino (wild greens) section will encourage you to take a whole new look at the abundant greenery in your veggie beds and help you identify common edibles in your neighbourhood.  

nosipho and salad

Anna Trapido, author of Hunger for Freedom – the story of food in the life of Nelson Mandela, wrote the ‘shout’ for the back cover: “We are what we grow, cook and eat. Mpophomeni’s gardeners and cooks are an example of what South Africa can and should be. Through the pages of this delightful book readers will come to love and admire a remarkable and resilient community. The recipes so generously offered are not only delicious but also inspiring and insightful – each one allows a reader to taste a piece of the story.”

r grinding pepper onto potato salad 1

I hope that Mnandi (which translates as ‘tasty’) will inspire you to take part in the magical process of growing and preparing food that is good for you and good for the planet too. Available at bookstores and deli’s across the country or from

Publication is sponsored by N3 Toll Concession who have always loved the food we serve them when they visit.  Thank you Andy Visser for the spark, and Thandi Rakhale and Con Roux for your continual enthusiastic support. Thanks to my tribe of creative friends (who are not Mpoppies) who contributed recipes, ideas, time and advice – Sue Derwent, Erica Platter, Kate Chanthunya, Eidin Griffin, Sam Rose, Bridget Ringdahl, Karen Zunckel, Kim Ward, Lesle Hall, Caroline Bruce, Cheryl Blackburn, Liz Gow, Alison McKenna and Paul Van Uytrecht.

All money from sales will go to MCG projects. To support cooks, growers and small farmers in the area through training, networking, resources and wilderness experiences.  For three years sales of Mnandi provided free WiFi to the community in the vicinity of the Library.

r bunch carrots

19 Comments Add yours

  1. Debby says:

    Read book cover to cover and then was inspired to make radish top and coriander, buckwheat pancakes. Inspiring slice of life!


    1. Siyabonga Debby! Those pancakes sound delicious. No such thing as waste…


  2. lerushkasuey says:

    This sounds like such a lovely and inspirational read.It’s really interesting to find books like this about local cuisine. I cannot wait to purchase this book and try out the recipes.


    1. Lerushka – have you managed to get yourself a copy of Mnandi?


  3. Oh, I am so pleased to hear that. Thank you very much.


  4. Brilliant Nikki! Well done all of you and so much looking forward to reading and savouring the yummy creations. We are getting planting too on our new land with tasty veg and gorgeous indigenous herbs, plants and trees.


    1. Thank you Leigh. I will send you one if you let me know your postal address. The book is getting rave reviews, but causing all sorts of chaos in Mpophomeni! much love, Nikki


  5. infocrabapplecoza says:

    And so you should be ! A veritable local masterpiece of the joy , harmony and vibrance … our increasing resilience .. Well done my friends.
    Live loved, Helen B.


    1. OH thank you Helen. I am delighted that you are enjoying it.
      love Nikki


  6. desdesignsdot says:

    Thank you dear friend for all the wonderful comments about a design diva you know… my new tagline? Good luck on Saturday, so sorry I can’t be there…


    1. I thought you already used it! much love x


  7. Christeen says:

    Congratulations Nikki! I’m looking forward to seeing ‘Mnandi’, the vibrancy and colour are a true reflection of the joy of growing and eating, Mpop is an inspiration, as you are as well!


    1. thank you Christeen. The book is available at the Mpophomeni Tourist Centre (thatched complex) if you are driving past. lots of love Nikki

      Liked by 1 person

  8. naturebackin says:

    Congratulations to you and the gardeners and cooks who created the tasty recipes. I love the vibrant colours in the pics and I look forward to seeing the book.


    1. thank you so much! Have you got a copy yet? Available at Dovehouse, Lazy Lizard and Howick Falls Tourism in Howick. love Nikki


      1. naturebackin says:

        Hi Nikki – I got a copy at BookWorld today. What an inspirational and beautiful book. Thank you! May the spring rains be bountiful – they are sorely needed.


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