Last updated on Sep 18th, 2020 at 01:36 pm

Social media influencer, entrepreneur, author public speaker and superwoman Olwethu Leshabane shared her recipe for umleqwa and idombolo. A meal that goes by many names across South Africa’s diverse cultures, but only by one name to the taste buds; delicious.

What exactly is umleqwa?

Umleqwa is known by many as the original free-range chicken, but a quick taste test will tell you that, that is an oversimplification. 

 Umleqwa or a hard body chicken is a hand raised chicken butchered at home and cooked soon after slaughtering. While these chickens eat almost the same diet as farm-raised free-range chickens they taste a lot gamier, have a tougher texture (hence the name hard body) and have a stronger ‘chicken ‘ flavour because they aren’t processed as intensely as store-bought chickens.

Umleqwa is usually slaughtered, hand plucked and cooked then eaten within a matter of hours, it just doesn’t get fresher than that.

How to serve it

Cooking your chicken is a matter of taste however serving umleqwa with rice could be seen as a great injustice. Idombolo, pap, ting or samp are a great accompaniment for umleqwa and make for a hearty Proudly South African meal.


Krummel Pap & Tomato Relish

Samp with Fresh Corn recipe

Olwethu’s Umleqwa / Free-range Chicken Recipe



  • 1 whole chicken, plucked, cleaned and cut into 6 pieces
  • 900ml boiling water
  • 1 chicken stock cube
  • 15ml olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 tomatoes, skin removed and chopped
  • 30ml (2 tbsp) tomato paste
  • 2.5ml (½ tsp) curry powder
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped
  • 1 green pepper, chopped
  • 5ml salt
  • 5ml sugar

How to

  •  Transfer the boiling water to a saucepan and add the chicken pieces.
  • Add the stock cube to the chicken and cook for 45 minutes to an hour or until its cooked.
  •  In another saucepan, sauté the onion, green pepper, garlic clove.
  •  Add tomatoes, curry powder, sugar and tomato paste.
  • Season with salt.
  • Add the cooked chicken and let simmer for 15-20 minutes.




  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 1/4 cups water 3 tablespoons sugar 1 tablespoon canola
  • oil 1 teaspoon salt 3 teaspoon yeast 1/2 teaspoon baking powder 

How to

  • Sift the flour, salt, baking powder, sugar and yeast in a large mixing bowl.
  • Whisk the water and canola oil in a smaller bowl.
  •  Create a small well in the centre of the dry ingredient mixture and add a third of the warm water mixture. Slowly combine the ingredients. Continue this process until you have used up all of the water mixtures.
  •  Start to combine thoroughly. You can use an electric mixer or hand-held mixer using the dough hooks to knead or knead by hand. Knead the mixture until it is smooth and stretchy.
  •  Coat the top of the dough with olive oil and cover the bowl in cling film.
  • Leave your dough to rise for 30 minutes.
  • Place between 500ml and 1 litre of water in a large pot and
    bring to the boil. Grease an enamel coated or stainless steel bowl and place
    the dough inside. Cover the bowl with the lid (any lid that fits should do) then
    cover the big pot and boil on high heat for 45 minutes.
  • Check that the large pot still has enough water in it, and has not
    dried up, from time to time


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Recipe courtesy of Royal Baking Powder and Olwethu Leshabane Media entrepreneur and founder of The Art of Superwoman