Thursday, September 18, 2014

A Trip Down to South Africa

Last week we took a trip over to Tanzania. This week I invite you to travel 2,000 miles south with me to the country with 11 official names (one in each official language) and three capitals, none of which is the largest city. The Dutch arrived in South Africa in 1652, colonized it, and influenced the culture of the country for the past 3.5 centuries. What other African country is 10% white? This diversity has had a lot of problems in the past, but hopefully South Africans are past all their racism and has moved on to focusing more on the awesomeness of their country. You can find penguins, macadamia nuts, the second highest waterfall in the world, rhinos, and 75,000 year old artwork all wrapped up in the over 470,000 square miles that make up this amazing country. Oh yeah, and you will come across some really good food too.

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This beautiful plate is not just the rice and meatloaf that it seems to be. This meal is completely South African. (And completely delicious!)
 
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This rice is not overly spiced, but it has the perfect amount of sweetness and flavor to make it shine. Plus, it's yellow. You can't beat that.
 
Geelrys
serves 4
1 ½  cups basmati rice
2 ½ cups water
1 ½ tsp turmeric
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
6 tbsp raisins
1 tbsp sugar (optional)
salt, to taste
 
Mix all the ingredients together in a por. Bring to a boil over high heat, and then reduce to a simmer. Cover and cook for 30 minutes until the water has all absorbed. Let the rice sit for 5 minutes covered before fluffing with a fork and serving.
 

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The first recipe for bobotie appeared a Dutch cookbook in 1609. It was brought over by the Dutch East India Company from Indonesia and then taken down to South Africa where its popularity has flourished. I don't have trouble seeing why. This spiced meat based dish with a custard topping. The bay leaves on top not only make it pretty, but also add a nice flavor. Bobotie is traditionally served beside geelrys and a bit of chutney.

 

Bobotie
serves 4
For the meat:
1 pound ground sirloin
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tbsp oil
1 slice of bread, cubed
1 egg
¼ cup raisins
1 tbsp apricot preserves
½ tsp turmeric
1 ½ tsp curry powder
1 tbsp sugar (optional)
salt and pepper, to tase
3 bay leaves
 
For the custard:
1 egg
½ cup milk
 
Preheat your oven to 325 degrees and oil a 6X6” baking dish. In a large pan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic, cooking until translucent. Add the beef and crumble it up until lightly browned.
 
Soak the bread in the custard milk for 10 minutes. Squeeze the milk out of the bread, reserving it in a bowl. Add the bread to the meat mixture along with the turmeric, sugar, curry powder, salt and pepper, apricot preserves, raisins, and one egg. Mix well and spread evenly into the baking dish. Arrange the bay leaves on top and bake for 25 minutes.
 
Meanwhile, beat the milk and remaining egg together. Pour the milk mixture evenly over the bobotie and cook for another 15 minutes, or until the egg has set. Allow it to sit for 10 minutes before serving.

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Wow. What can I say to describe the amazing flavors brought to me by South Africa. As always, I had my doubts and reservations. Sweet meatloaf with raisins and apricot preserves? More raisins in the rice along with a ton of turmeric? And as always, I learned to trust the recipes passed down through the generations and enjoy a meal from a country miles and miles and miles away. It is so cool how food can bridge the gaps between cultures. It's also so cool that a little bit of apricot preserves, curry powder, and a custard topping can make meatloaf go from bleh to SCRUMOTIOUS.

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