Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Beautiful in Botswana

I finally got some nice new plates for Christmas to take my food photography on. I was so excited to try them out for my first country. I planned and waited excitedly. Tonight was the night I would try out Botswana. Everything was going to work out perfectly. Then my camera USB cord decided to quit working, and I can't get the pictures from my camera to my computer. Thankfully, my roommate offered to let me use her iPhone to take the pictures. I guess I can't have a nice camera and nice plates. That would just be too perfect. And the food from Botswana was so beautiful. It would have looked so nice.

Anyway, it's time for me to stop moping about my camera issues and share with you a little about the fascinating country of Botswana. I'm back to Africa which has had a winning streak of delicious food so far. Botswana did not disappoint. The cuisine of Botswana is very unique in many ways, but also has quite a few influences from nearby South Africa. The Botswana people eat many unique things like fried worms. They also eat many yummy things like a lot of vegetable stews, more thick porridge like many other nations, and a delicious dish called seswaa made of pounded meat. Most of the people of Botswana are Tswana and speak Setswana. (For some reason there is not an "n" at the end. It's the Botswana people, not Botswanan.) The official language is English because Botswana was a colony of Great Britain until 1966. Since then, Botswana has strived to improve education and democracy. Their parliamentary republic has actually been rated the most democratic in Africa. Now let's get on to some recipes!
The Botswana love their veggie stews, and this one is a great accompaniment to the meat and porridge. I just love how colorful it is! The sugar and vinegar add a savory/ sweet flavor that is a nice contrast.
12 ounces frozen marog or spinach, thawed
½ an onion, chopped
1 large clove garlic, minced
1 tbsp oil
2 tomatoes, chopped
dash of vinegar
sugar, salt, and pepper, to taste
Heat the oil over medium heat in a large skillet with a lid, and cook the onions until golden, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another 2 minutes. Pour in the spinach and tomatoes, and bring the mixture to a simmer. Cook covered for about 15 minutes until the tomatoes are all broken up. Stir in the vinegar and season to taste with salt, pepper, and a little sugar.


It seems like every country in Africa has their staple grain made into a thick porridge to serve with stews. There is ugali, pap, sadza, to, and here is a recipe for Botswana's rendition called bogobe. You can make it out of either sorghum or millet, but I went with the millet since I had it on hand. It is a little bland, but is great for soaking up gravy and stew!

1 cup pearled millet
2 ½- 3 cups water
salt, to taste

Pulse your millet a couple of times through a food processor to grind it up a bit. Meanwhile, bring the water to a boil in a pot with a lid. Reduce the heat to a simmer, whisk about a third of the millet into the water, and stir constantly. Simmer with the lid on for about 10 minutes before whisking in the remaining millet. Cook for 10 more minutes, stirring often or until a thick porridge has formed.

Seswaa is the national dish of Botswana, and is so easy and delicious to make! You could probably cook it in a crockpot and completely forget about it all day with amazing results. I chose to slow simmer it over the stove to go a more authentic route. (Or as authentic as I could get in a dorm room.) After the meat has simmered for a few hours, you just pound it out with a wooden spoon to make the best roast ever!
1 pound chuck or top round steak, cut into large chunks
1 onion, chopped
1 tbsp oil
2 bay leaves
salt and pepper, to taste
Heat the oil over medium heat in a pot with a lid and brown the meat. Remove the meat from the pot. Sauté the onions for about 8 minutes, or until golden. Add everything the pot and cover with an inch of water. Bring to a boil and reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook with the lid on for 3-4 hours until the meat is tender. Remove the meat and onions to a bowl, discarding the bay leaf. With a wooden spoon, pound the meat until it is well broken up. Continue to cook the remaining broth over medium low heat until it is thickened. Served the seswaa with bogobe and a drizzle of the gravy.

As you can tell, I was every happy with the results of my Botswana meal. Can you not see the beauty in that plate? (Even with a phone camera!) The gravy drizzle turned the bogobe into more than just a bland much, the veggies brought a sweet/ sour touch, and the meat was divine. Another score for Africa!

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