Monday, October 20, 2008

South Africa: Four Corners Cuisine

Since I did a posting about how South Africans live and the days in their lives I can’t leave out a posting about what they like to eat. Since there is a huge difference between the classes and a huge difference between the backgrounds of South Africaners the food is as varied as no other country I have lived in before.

East meets West... And South... And North. That's how the cuisine of South Africa can be described. Where Indian curries meet British meat pies and Dutch cookies meet Indonesian chutney. Culinary contrasts that mirror the geography, culture, and history of this vast land.
South African cuisine has changed from indigenous dependence on wild game, cattle and gathering of foods from the wild, to farming, and cooking styles brought by colonists from the Netherlands, Germany France and Britain, as well as immigrants from India. Traditional "Cape Dutch" cookery mixes European cooking with spices like nutmeg, allspice and hot peppers, brought to South Africa from India and Southeast Asia.

But most of all; South Africans love their braais (barbeques) and are passionate about how it should be done, so be warned - don't interfere with a South African man and his braai! And the Dutch Boerewors is a staple on the braai, funny how these old fashioned foods we had in Holland as a child, you see here again...

But there are many more delicious, traditional South African foods available; the most famous of this is probably biltong, which is strips of dried meat which come in various flavour and types. It taste quite a bit like beef jerky, but better!

Potjiekos is a delicious slowly cooked meat and vegetable stew, which is traditionally cooked over an open fire. "Potjiekos" - (poy-kee-kawse) directly translated "pot food" or food prepared in a pot. In South Africa this means only one thing, food prepared outdoors in a cast iron, round, three legged pot using either wood coals or charcoal. Check here for recipes.

Mielie Pap, a stiff corn meal mix, the staple of a sub-continent. Mielie-meal (grounded maize) is the food of choice among the poor population. Pap means porridge in Afrikaans. My domestic worker Khethoe probably eats it 4-5 days a week. It tastes like polenta, it is only not as yellow.

When we were in Madikwe, the game reserve we had a delicious soup. Here is the recipe that I made up myself after they told us that the ingredients started with 3 C’s. Carrots, Cauliflower and Coriander. I tried these 3 ingredients, started playing around with some fresh and dried herbs and this is the result.

Madikwe’s Carrot, Cauliflower & Coriander soup (serves 10-12)

1 bag carrots, cut up in chunks
3 bags cauliflower, already cut up in chunks
1 pack fresh coriander (add to your liking)
1 tsp garlic
1 tbsp grape seed oil (olive oil works as well)
3-4 cubes vegetable bouillon
1 tbsp. NoMu African spices = a blend of cumin, fenugreek, coriander, allspice, ajowan seeds, chili, nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon, turmeric, ginger & cardamom
salt & pepper to taste

Sauté the carrots and cauliflower in some grapeseed oil and garlic, don’t stir too often, so the carrots and cauliflower burn a bit. This will add some smoky flavor to the soup. Add the bouillon cubes and cold water till all the vegetables are under the water surface. Put lid on and first let it come to a boil, and then simmer for about 1 hour. Then take the lid off and simmer for about another hour, really slow, so some of the broth is evaporated. The soup has a nice aroma and taste by now. Add the fresh coriander and puree the soup till you have a nice and creamy texture, no chunks in it anymore. Just a smooth soup, which is good for you & divine!!
Serve with some freshly baked rustic bread and you are good to go!

And then tell me about it. Did you like it, was something missing? Give me some feedback… you know I LOVE it!

Enjoy, Mireille ;-)


Emm said...

Stunning post. Almost enough to make me homesick!

Jen and Jeff said...

Thanks for posting the 3C's soup you were telling me about. I wonder if I can find the right spices around here? Will let you know if I make it and how it turns out!


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