Traditional Tomato Sauce for Pap & Wors

Traditional South African tomato sauce for papfor pap & wors

As dit pap reën moet jy skep! 

~ Traditional Afrikaans Expression ~


The Afrikaans expression quoted above (literal translation: if it rains porridge you should scoop it up) luckily doesn’t mean that it ever rains porridge in South Africa. It is simply a way of saying if opportunity presents itself, you should take it. A very positive sentiment indeed! And I have found if tomato sauce, pap & wors present itself, you have to help yourself to it quickly or there will be nothing left! Mieliepap (a stiff porridge made from finely ground cornmeal) is, of course, a staple food in South and Southern Africa. There are many names for it and just as many ways to cook and eat it.


We all have our favourite…

Pap can be made as a breakfast porridge which would generally be more liquid and eaten with butter, sugar and milk. There are people who prefer Krummelpap – a drier, crumbly version that looks more like couscous than porridge. I grew up eating “stywe pap” – meaning stiff porridge. This bears a resemblance to grits cooked in the USA and polenta from Italy. It is made by mixing white cornmeal into boiling salted water. Pap can be eaten just as is (my dad used to say you can really taste the mealie that way), or with some form of meat sauce. A very traditional way of serving it is with boerewors (barbequed spicy sausage) and a chunky tomato sauce.


But it’s all delicious!

Even the tomato sauce goes by different names, depending on who you talk to. Some people call it Tamatiesmoor (“smoor” being the equivalent of braise in cooking terminology), others always call it Sheba. And there is a very popular spicy version with added chilli and beans, which is known as Chakalaka. Looking at this I have realised we are really spoilt for choice when it comes to variety with this recipe! But beware trying to pass your recipe off as the authentic one! Everybody believes theirs is the correct way of making Pap & Wors! Some people use tinned tomato & onion mixes, while I sometimes like to use my Home-made Tomato Sauce to save time. This recipe shows the way I grew up eating tomato sauce, pap & wors, and even if it’s not “the right way”, it’s still delicious!


Tomato sauce for pap


Traditional Tomato Sauce for Pap & Wors

A chunky tomato sauce to serve over pap and barbeque sausage
Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time30 minutes
Course: Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine: South African
Servings: 4 people
Author: Melby


  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced
  • 3 large tomatoes, cubed (or 2 tins of chopped tomatoes)
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • oil for frying
  • ½ cup tomato puree
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1 tbsp vinegar
  • 1 tbsp sugar (or fruit chutney for extra flavour)
  • ½ - 1 cup water
  • 2 tbsp green herbs, chopped Optional. I love adding parsley or basil though


  • Fry the onions in the oil until they are translucent, but not browned.
  • Add the garlic and fry for another minute.
  • Add the tomato, as well as any tomato juice you can preserve. Let the tomatoes fry in the pan until most of the juice has reduced.
  • Add salt and pepper to taste, as well as the vinegar, sugar and tomato puree. Let the mixture come to a simmer.
  • At this stage, the mixture will probably resemble a wet stir-fry. Add ½ a cup of water, or as much as you need to create a saucy consistency.
  • Let the sauce cook on medium heat, stirring occasionally until most of the tomato pieces has broken down and the sauce has thickened (around 20 minutes). Add the chopped herbs 5 minutes before serving.
  • Check the seasoning adding more salt or sugar if needed. Serve on pap of your choice as a side dish to some delicious braaied Boerewors.


  • Any form of chilli (green, red, fresh or dried) can be added to the sauce to give it a kick.
  • I have also added extra veggies like sliced mushrooms or cubes of eggplant on occasion.
  • If you have a batch of Home-made Tomato Sauce at hand you can use that instead of chopping fresh tomatoes.


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