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Jeqe Recipe

May 20, 2012

Sliced Jeqe

Jeqe (uJeqe) is a traditional South African dish, which can be best described as "steamed bread." I got this recipe by carefully observing as a woman prepared the dish while I was visiting a Zulu family in Umlazi township. Few Zulu women follow written recipes, so these measurements are the best approximations I could make. Don't worry though... they are spot on. I've made this many times for potlucks and parties. It's always a winner.

The time to prepare is usually around 3 hours for me (including rise time and cooking) but it's totally worth it.

Jeqe Recipe

Lets start with the ingredients. Add the following to a large mixing bowl:

  • 7 cups flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 1 packet yeast (2 and 1/4 teaspoons)
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • enough water that the mixture becomes a soft dough when kneaded

Bowl of Ingredients

Kneed it very well, until you have a soft (kind of sticky) mass of dough. Let it rise (for up to an hour), pound it down, and let it rise again.

To cook it, we'll be making a low-tech double boiler. Find a strong, clean, plastic bag without holes in it, like a grocery bag. Put a spoonful of cooking oil in the bag and spread it around (so the dough doesn't stick to the inside of the bag).

Plastic Bag

Then carefully put the risen dough into the bag. Put the bag into a large stovetop pot (ours is 8 qt.) with water in it. If well risen, the bag of dough should float. You can loosely tie or fold over the open top of the bag, but don't seal it. You want the steam to be able to enter into the bag and cook the dough.

Bag of Dough

Finally, bring the water to a boil and put the lid on the pot. Let the steam cook the bread for at least an hour before removing.

Jeqe, Cooking

Jeqe (uJeqe)

Sliced Jeqe

Slice and eat!

The traditional way to eat it is to make up some beef or chicken curry and put it on the jeqe. Otherwise, eat it like you would bread. I think it tastes great plain.

If this recipe works out for you, let me know by leaving your feedback in the comments. Hambani Kahle!

By the way, the plastic bag won't melt. It's high-density-polyethelyne and doesn't melt below 250 Fahrenheit (120 C). The hottest your water will ever get is 212 F and that's if you're at sea level. At higher elevations than your water boils at lower temperatures so you're even more safe. If it makes you feel better, you can also cook the dough in any bowl (usually hard plastic) floating in the boiling water. Both methods are used in Zulu homes.


I won't forget that day the Khoza's taught us and when we brought it back they thought we added "something" to make it taste better. Good times. :)

This recipe is the exact one I picked up at the Khozas. It's surprising that it can be so good, even though it's using such simple ingredients.

Thank you! I will use this recipe. And thanks for the note about the plastic bag. I was worried about that.

will the plastic give off chemicals at them temps?

Maybe THAT'S the "something extra!"

Just kidding! I can only speak from experience of having made and eaten it many times as a missionary. It's a pretty common dish, and I've never seen any ill effects on myself or anybody I've met.

As I mentioned, if it concerns anybody, go ahead and use a plastic bowl, or an actual double boiler for that matter. I once made it in a glass Pyrex dish. What you use doesn't matter as long as you allow the steam to do it's magic.

You shall have many blessings sent you way for your generous dole to mankind... :-)

Thank you ill be cooking ujeqa for the first time this xmas using your easy to fellow recipe for my mother inlaw "wish me luck"

Good Luck!

My niece love Jeqe and she helps also with making it, she is only 7. Esp she will ask to punch the dough (kneading)

Thnx a lot Bryan, tried it and it ws a killer! My hubby and daughter loved and so did I! It came out prefect!

Thanks a lot for the recipe.It boosted my confidence in making jeqe. Jeqe has become part my Sunday menu.Thanks again.

7 cups of flour? Does this recipe make a huge loaf of steam bread?

Yes! It makes a great big loaf. Perfect if you have a big family or several friends visiting.

Dude you made it so simple, Mom always taught me but she told me long stories of how good her grandmother used to make it until I lost track, thanks for the recipe I KILLED IT!

I made this for sister missionaries tonight sooo good. Thx for posting

This was so good...thanks for the recipe

You may add more flour depending on the size of the people. As long as you can perfectly measure the sugar-salt level. I never use measurements. LOL. Its all in the eye. the same recipe can be used for dumpling. Add the raw mixture of Jeqe (without plastic) to either a chicken gravy or beef and let it steam.

Tried it yesterday, 1 word! Perfection

Thank you for the easy jeqe recipe it taste and smells good.

n ive been stressing cz at home they use an enamel bowl i didnt know about the plastic until now thank u kindly

Thanks for the easy recipe. I am married into a zulu family and ujeqe is a staple for them. I am challenged when it comes to making ujeqe, tried it once and it didnt come out right. This is my second attempt and i followed your recipe. It is in the pot as i am typing this but must say i feel confident that it will taste perfect. This may be the beginning of ujeqe becoming a staple in my house as well. I will come back with my feedback after my family have tasted it. I made beef stew to eat it with!

This recipe is a winner. My kids did not even want to have my beef stew with it. The loved it on its own. Thanks again.

I'm glad it turned out well for you Helen!

So delicious

The International Hotel School, Durban Campus, uses the exact same recipe! word for word. Lol. By chance I went on line to find a similar recipe to find out the exact amount of water to use to make a soft "kind of sticky" mass of dough - or at least a pic of how sticky it should be(I tend to be pedantic). Could you please insert a photo of this sticky mass of dough?

Hello, I have always been frustrated with myself for not being able to make ujeqe. I followed your recipe to the T and well my brothers thought I was "thee man". It was my first time just last week and it was perfect. Thank you so much. I'm about to make one again :-) Thanks again and God bless.

We spent time in Kwa Zulu Natal and had Jeqe a couple of times made by our friends. I think it's as good or better than bread back home.

how and where do you keep the left overs?

When we have leftovers we usually wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate it. I don't know if that's completely necessary (it's just bread, right?) but it tends to keeps it moist.

I love your easy recipe coz i did Jeqe yesterday & it was perfect. Thanks once again

Heywill itstill be ujeqe.....if the dough is not so sticky but kinda sticky only if you press too hard on it....????

I never did ever post about this, Love this bread and I make it for the missionaries all the time here in California. Thanks for doing this!

Thanks, and good to hear from you Christopher!

Tried this recipe yesterday and it worked like a charm. I had everyone's compliments all the way. I even shared the recipe with one of my guests.

I`ve tried plenty jeqe recipes and never got it right till I tried this one. Thanx Bryan. It was easy and fuss-free to make. Very tasty too. For Xmas dinner I added diced mixed vegetables to the mix. Family and guests raved about it.

Ugeqe is indeed my favorite meal i ever found when i was in the Zulu land. i was introduced to this food when i was serving mission in Umlazi and when i came home i couldn't make it nice but when i tried to make using this receipt it is sweet Ujeqe, sweet Ujeqe thanks Bryan

I would like to tank u 4 this recipe, my kids love eating traditional food I tried it as I write here its stil on the stove , I can tell by the aroma it will come out great!

Wow it is very nice. I have a zulu husband and he was very impressed. Thank you


Hi, does the oil also go into the mixture, or is it used just to coat the plastic bag?

Erica, the 1/4 cup oil listed with the ingredients goes into the mixture. An additional spoonful of oil is used to coat the plastic bag. :)

Hello, we now even have a better way then the plastic packet, you can use 2l ice cream contanier. Even sprinkle grated carrot or yellow,green and red pepper for colour.. Thanks for the recipe.

I also tryed dis recipes waz so delicious (jeqe n inhloko)

Thanks for sharing! Followed recipe to the T! Hope it comes out right.

I would like to know after I've mixed ingredient ,for dumpling must i put my dough on the sun to help raise .?

Yes, putting the dough in a warm place will help it rise, so it's a good idea to do that if you can. But I wouldn't worry too much if you can't. It tends to rise a bit in the steam. Also it is supposed to be somewhat dense.

My lovely Zulu girlfriend dared me to try and make this without her assistance so this recipe is my only hope. Here goes!

Good luck!

I tried to make this and my bag melted... I just used a typical walmart bag... is there something in particular that I am doing wrong? The dough tasted amazing though haha

Yikes! Walmart bags are notoriously weak. The bags used in South Africa are much stronger, probably because they are not free. You typically buy them from the store, and they are subject to tax.

If you are outside of South Africa, and you are going to use a grocery bag, try to use one from a higher-end store. For example, I've had success with bags from Target.

One other thought, while the water won't raise above it's boiling temperature, the sides of the pot can get hotter. Use the biggest pot you can find to limit contact between the bag and the sides of the pot, (or if you don't have a large pot, maybe cook it in smaller batches). You want to avoid a situation where the bag is constently pressed up against the sides of the pot.

I'm making Jeqe for the 1st time today. I sure will let you guys know how it went later

Thank you bryan I've been looking for a dombolo recipe. Will def make for my family

What flour do you use? Cake or bread flour?

Bread flour is probably better than cake flour, though I don't know if it would make a big difference or not. I typically use an all-purpouse flour.