International Dinner #33 The tastes of South Africa!

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Well, Ethan chose his first country which meant he got to come shopping with me and have the customary muffin and coffee (coffee for me – not him!) Well I can tell you, going shopping with an almost 3-year-old is a different experience than the other two boys. I got a workout! He had to jump only on the green checkers in the supermarket, so I had to sustain his jump until he reached the square… sore arm….

He had fun though – and we finished shopping before my arm fell off!

Biltong (cured, spiced meat)

Now, while I normally make all the meals at home from scratch, I’m not really set up to make biltong (not to mention the lead time to cure it), so I took the easy way out and bought it at the local South African store. We had two flavours, chilli (for me! and apparently Sam as well the way he scoffed it down) and a more aromatic sweetly spiced bierstick-like version, I’m guessing cardamom as the main spice, it was quite mellow and smoky.

I honestly thought I’d be the only one eating the chilli spiced biltong so I didn’t get very much of that – but it was the most popular with everyone. Apart from Ryan, who does likes sweet chilli sauce and anything salty, apart from biltong it seems. Ethan had a little try, but it’s a bit of a strange flavour for his young tastebuds.

I couldn’t get a rating out of Ethan, he’s too little, so we’ll take the boys ratings instead.

Sam’s Rating: 10/10
Ryan’s Rating: 4/4

Boerewors (spice, dense long, long sausage)
Chakalaka (spicy tomato, onion sauce)
MielePap (literally Cornmeal Porridge)

Okay, I’ll admit I cheated on the boerewors as well, I bought it from the South African store as well, but I guess on the authenticity side of things you can’t get much more authentic for taste! As I pulled it out of the fridge to cook it the boys took great delight.
Sam: “Dad, what’s that?”
Me: “Boerewors for South Africa night”
Sam: “It looks like a big long pooh”
Me: “Thank you Sam, for that image”
Exact same conversation repeated 5 minutes later with Ryan – little boys love the toilet humour…

Boerewors is easy to cook – throw it on the Braai (BBQ), the trick would be getting the vegetable sauce and the pap cooked and ready at the same time.

Pap. Pap is the dutch/afrikaans word for porridge, this is a versatile dish, it’s basically cornmeal (maizemeal) and water, with a bit of butter. It is eaten for breakfast with a bit of sugar or honey (I might give that a go, since we have cornmeal left over) or eaten for lunch/dinner acompanied with a variety of vegetable, spicy sauces, every family has they own favourite. I decided to cook it with a tomato, onion and baked bean based sauce solely (and I’m not afraid to admit it) because of the name – Chakalaka! How could I pass up a dish with a name like that? When I told the boys the name they danced around the lounge singing “Boom Boom Chakalaka…” over and over.

The Pap cooks for about an hour, I thankfully had advice on how to cook it from two different South Africans over the last week, one version seemed to be the “quick and easy” microwave male-version (told to me by a guy), the other version was the traditional pot over a flame, cook for an hour version, told to me by a woman. And since we’re trying to go traditional old-school, and I didn’t quite get the full particulars of the microwave version, I had it cooking for the full hour, including the “make sure you burn it on the bottom a bit, so you get a nice stiff, solid pap. Well I definitely didn’t want runny pap! It had the consistency of mash potatoes once I was finished which is exactly what I was after.

The chakalaka was just a matter of slowly cooking all the ingredients, we made two versions, hot and spicy for the adults, not really spicy for the kids (although it did have to rounded tsp of curry powder).

Both boys were keen on the boerewors, Sam wanting a curly end bit and Ryan not wanting an end bit, so that was not problem. I wasn’t too sure how the boys would take to the pap, mashed potato isn’t their thing, so I was hoping the chakalaka would disguise that. Ryan and Sam were quick off the mark with, “I don’t want any of that”, but I said they had to take a small amount on their plate and try it at least. Well, Ryan’s Chakalaka and Pap had to be separate on the plate, and Sam was happy to cover his pap with the chakalaka. Ethan wouldn’t touch his at all… but we are having a bit of trouble with him eating at the moment, he’s become vegetarian all of a sudden and will eat his vegetables but not his chicken, the total opposite of the other kids at that age!

Sop back to the pap, both boys weren’t keen to taste it, Ryan dipped his finger in the chakalaka… “I love it!” And although he wanted then separate on his plate he combined them to eat it, and  he had seconds of the boerewors. Sam on the other hand loved the pap – “It’s like scrambled eggs Dad!” he wasn’t keen on the chakalaka, which meant scraping it off…

Ethan ate his sausage, but that was it.

Sam’s Rating: X-Infinity/Infinity
Ryan’s Rating: X-Infinity/Infinity

Sam’s Rating: 4/10
Ryan’s Rating: ABCD-Infinity/Infinity

Sam’s Rating: 10/10
Ryan’s Rating: 10/10

Melktert (literally Milk Tart)

Another milky dessert. similar but different to the baked custard type dessert from Chile . But this one had cinnamon and sugar on top! And the boys love cinnamon and sugar, we have a French Toast breakfast each sunday, with cinnamon sugar topping. This had a nice buttery sweet pastry base, the actual mixture was very, very liquid when I poured it in – I was seriously worries I’d be serving up cold milk soup for dessert, I ending up cooking it for twice as long as the recipe cooked for and that seemed about right, as once we chilled it we had a nice soft milk jelly-like tart. I had to stick it in the bottom of the freezer and entertain the kids (keep their minds off the fact they weren’t eating dessert) for a bit because it hadn’t quite cooled down by the time we’d finished the main course. 10 minutes in the bottom of the freezer, got rid of that last bit of remaining warmth and we were down to business.

It was good! Enough said really. Sam finished his, Ryan had some but not all, and here it is Thursday night and we’ve been having it for dessert each night, and it’s it finally finished. Mildly sweet with a slight vanilla flavour, nice and soft and quite easy to make. (Recipe to come…)

Sam’s Rating: 10/10
Ryan’s Rating: 10/10

Summing up: That pap was not bad at all, now I don’t like mashed potato at all, but pap I can eat, so I might give that ago in the future especially since Sam likes it as well, and it’s gluten-free to boot! Boerewors rocks any day of the week, so if you can get your hands on some give it a go!


2 thoughts on “International Dinner #33 The tastes of South Africa!

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