Good question Dave.
Meat is roasted on coals, and is often left scorched almost black on the outside and very rare on the inside - inyama eyosiwe. Zulus also make a beef stew called inyama yenkomo.
The Zulus drink amasi which is sour, curdled milk. They say it makes a man strong and desired. During taboos (e.g. menstruation or when there has been contact with death) the affected person must abstain from amasi. Milk is hardly ever drunk fresh ('green milk'), but it is sometimes used to thin amasi which has gone too thick to be used.
Maize is a popular part of the Zulu's diet. One method of preparing it is to grind it to a meal, using a stone and a concave bowl to mill it. It is then cooked into a stiff, lumpy porridge which is eaten from chunks held in their hands(uphuthu).An alternative method is to shell the grain after it's completely dry, and to boil it for a day and eat it as a whole grain. They combine it with amasi when available, which makes it chewy. (isithambu
Corn on the cob (mealies) are roasted on coals. The mealies are eaten at the hard stage, when they are difficult to chew.
The Zulus also eat dry beans boiled together with maize. Different areas prefer different beans, but in typical Zulu idiomatic and expressive style, some varieties are known as 'thundering buttocks'. Two of the most popular varieties are kidney beans (ubhomubhomu) and sugar beans (ubhonisi).
There are two mealtimes. The first is at 10:00 a.m. or 11:00 a.m. and the second is in the evening.
This is known as tshwala, and is an important part of Zulu life as it is an essential part of every ceremony or feast. To greet with a pot of beer is seen as a warm and welcoming gesture to guests. It is also food for the ancestral spirits, which quenches their thirst and proves that they haven't been forgotten by their relatives.
Corn is sprouted until the grain becomes fat and swollen and sends out healthy new shoot of approximately a centimetre in length, and turning green. It is then laid in open sunlight and the sprouts shrivel and die into brown coiled appendages. The corn hardens and shrinks back to its original size and is known as imithambo. The women now grind it into malt between a stone and a concave stone dish. It is mixed with water into a thin, porridge-like substance, and this wort (as it is technically known) is the catalyst of the fermentation. The beer is made by boiling the wort and adding further dry malt, maize-meal and water until the mixture is of the desired consistency. Between the boiling, the mixture has to stand for intervals to ferment. The end product is a pinkish brew with a thin, porridge-like consistency with fine husks on the surface, which are strained by squeezing the mixture through a loosely woven grass strainer called a mahluzo.
The beer has a short of life of approximately two days.
Beer brewing is women's work, but if they are 'contaminated' (for example during menstruation) the beer is believed to go insipid and flat. The women have to serve the beer, and sip it before their husbands, to prove that it is not poisoned.
The Zulus boil most of their food in a three-legged cast-iron pot (potjiepot). They use pottery bowls for wet food, and elongated, hand-carved wooden plates for meat. They also eat off grass mats on the floor when eating dry food, but these are troublesome as they are difficult to clean. In modern times, enamel dishes are being increasingly used in Zulu homesteads.