Monday, 2 April 2012

Traditional South African Recipe - Potjiekos

Each country has its own traditional recipes, and more than likely the ingredients are pertinent to the food available in that particular country. The fresh ingredients would probably be the fruit or vegetables grown in that country and are easily available through the seasons of the year. This South African recipe, 'Potjiekos', that uses all of the local ingredients to South Africa, is traditionally an outdoor meal, often prepared in a heavy cast iron pot over a fire. The name 'potjiekos' means 'potjie' which is pot and 'kos' means food. Food in a pot. The end result is similar to the more commonly known beef or lamb stew. But it seems that the flavour is enhanced because of the pot. Somehow it seems to keep all of the flavours and is quite different to the conventional way of preparing a stew.
The pot is made from cast iron and is very heavy. It's belly pot design seems to prevent the moisture from boiling out. It has a swing handle that drops down at the side of the pot and is design to take the heat of the open fire with it simmering away for two or three hours. The belly pot often has three cast iron legs where one can simply stand the pot over the fire, or you may hang the pot over the fire by the handle. Either way you have to use an oven glove or tea towel to lift the handle or the lid as they both become exceptionally hot. The Potjie' has to be stirred, preferable with a wooden spoon every so often to prevent the mixture from burning at the bottom. This should be done with a wooden spoon so as not to break up the dumplings.
The recipe calls for beef or lamb, onions, carrots, some peas,which is optional,seasoning, and dumplings, made from a regular dumpling recipe of flour and suet. The onions and meat are fried until brown. Finally add the rest of the ingredients listed in the recipe, add enough water to just cover the meat and vegetables and simmer for a couple of hours.