Recipe tribute to the late chef Lesego Semenya

Recipe tribute to the late chef Lesego Semenya

Lesego Semenya, one of South Africa’s best loved and respected chefs died on Sunday, 11. His influence on the industry over his many years of cooking is immeasurable. He was renowned for his best-seller cookbook Dijo: My Food, My Journey which was released in 2018.

Aside from his cookbook, the Soweto-born chef had cooked for international celebrities, including working as a personal chef for a renowned family in Irene, catering for Howard Buffett (Warren Buffett’s son) annually, and had annually catered to The British High Commission as well as Liverpool Football Club.

In an interview with The Saturday Star last year, Semenya revealed some of his favourite meals that he has always loved growing up which are mogodu and dombolo (tripe and dumpling), and below is his easy and delicious recipe on how to make them.

In his blog titled LesDaChef, he revealed that growing up in South Africa you grow accustomed to animals being slaughtered for rituals and gatherings. So to them, seeing the internal organs of animals wasn’t anything hectic. Semenya went on to write that he is a firm believer in starting with the simple stuff before moving into complex recipes.

“Once you’ve mastered this one then you can start playing around and adding tomato purée, curry powders, masala, potatoes and vegetables, and a whole lot of other things. You can cook tripe in a pressure cooker, it will cook faster and make less smell (which in turn attract flies) but I prefer the old school way of cooking it in a normal pot over low heat,” he wrote.


2.5kg cake flour

250ml white sugar

Salt, to taste

Warm water

10ml Superbake instant yeast

Parsley leaves, finely chopped

1kg sheep tripe, cleaned

750ml beef stock

1 onion, roughly chopped

2-star anise

4 allspice berries

4 cardamom pods

Freshly ground pepper

½ tsp ground coriander

1 fresh thyme

1 rosemary, chopped


For the dombolo:

Mix the flour, sugar, and salt.

Pour about a cup of warm water into a jug, add the yeast and allow to foam.

Now add the water and yeast mixture to the flour mixture.

Slowly add more warm water and mix (either with your hands or with a mixer with a dough hook attached).

Add the chopped parsley as you mix.

Once the dough becomes soft and pliable, stop adding water and begin kneading.

If using a mixer, mix until the dough starts pulling away from the sides of the bowl; if by hand knead for 15 minutes.

Place the dough in a bowl and cover with a damp, warm cloth or plastic wrap brushed with oil.

Proof until doubled in size.

Knock the dough back by punching it a few times by hand.

If making a stew, roll into equal-sized balls and place in the simmering stew.

They are ready when a toothpick pricked into one of them comes out clean.

For the mogodu:

Rinse and ensure the tripe is clean and then cut it (using a sharp pair of kitchen scissors) into pieces.

Place all the ingredients in a pot.

If the beef stock doesn’t cover the tripe completely, then add enough to cover it.

Bring the entire mixture to a boil.

Once boiling rapidly, reduce the heat to low and allow the pot to simmer with a half-open lid (or a lid with an air vent) for about 2 hours.

Test the tripe: if it isn’t soft enough then let it simmer longer.

Remove the lid completely and increase the heat a little to reduce the liquid in the pot to a thick sauce.

Only season with salt towards the end of the cooking process.