Mealie-meal is a relatively coarse flour (much coarser than cornflour or cornstarch) made from maize (called mielies or mealies). It is a food that was originally eaten by the Voortrekkers during The Great Trek, but has become the staple diet of Black Africans, because of its ability to be stored without refrigeration, it is cheap and abundant in all shops and markets. It is a staple food in South Africa, Lesotho, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Botswana and many other parts of sub-Saharan Africa, traditionally made into uphuthu, sour-milk porridge, pap, and also Umqombothi (a type of beer).
The raw ingredient of mealie-meal is added to boiling water, the ratio of which produces either porridge or the firmer pap/nshima/sadza. When making porridge milk is sometimes used to produce a creamier dish, the porridge usually has a thick texture and is commonly eaten for breakfast in Southern Africa. The firmer pap is eaten with the hands with meat and gravy dishes as well as vegetable relishes. It is similar to Italian polenta or American grits except that it is usually made of a white rather than a yellow maize variety.