One more catch up post, then I will get to write about last night’s meal, Brazil. We had a very long hiatus from this project–24 days between Botswana and Brazil! Since it has been 3-4 weeks since we cooked Botswana, this post will be only as long and detailed as my memory permits.
I didn’t find a vast amount of information on Botswanan food, and I selected a pretty simple meal. We made a beef dish called seswaa, a cornmeal-based side dish called bogobe, and a vegetable-based side dish called morogo wa dinawa. I found all of the recipes on the wonderful Celnet.org website, which has been a GREAT resource for international recipes in this project.
Several descriptions I read for this recipe explained that is cooked by the men. The men cook the meat and then pound it into a mush (described as being close to a mashed potato consistency). So I put Tyler in charge of this while I worked on the sides. 🙂
This was a pretty simple recipe–put a 1 kg cut of beef, chopped onion, and ground pepper in a pan of boiling water and then let it cook for a few hours. I’m convinced we should have just thrown it in the crock pot, but instead we attempted to cook it after work. We gave it the recommended 150 minutes and then some, and it never got particularly tender. Eventually we had to call it a day and pull it out.
The next step is to pound it into submission with a stick. Tyler used a wooden spoon. It took heavy damage.
Despite our trimming efforts, we ended up with a lot of fat/gristle that wasn’t easy to deal with, and it only came somewhat close to the right “mashed-potato-like” consistency.
Maize Meal Bogobe (recipe)
I was pretty nervous about this dish. The last time we made one of these starch and hot water goop side dishes (funge for Angola), it was an epic fail. The second time (cou cou for Barbados), it was tolerable. Third try is a charm, right?
Like Barbados, this recipe used cornmeal. I think the proportions and cooking time/temperature were a little different this time. This was another simple dish… boil some water, with salt, pour in the cornmeal, cover, and let it simmer for 20 minutes. The recipe said to pour the cornmeal into the middle of the pan so you get a cone. My cone was sticking out of the water. I don’t know if that’s what was supposed to happen, but I let it stay that way for the 20 minute cook time. I figured since the lid was on, it would be cooked by the steam and ambient heat in or out of the water.
After stirring it several times with a fork to prevent sticking and cooking for another 15 minutes, it actually looked tolerable and somewhat similar to pictures I have seen! Success!
Morogo Wa Dinawa (recipe)
I will preface this by saying we had to make a big substitution. We don’t have African cow pea leaves in the middle of Iowa. We have lots of cows, peas, and leaves, but not cow pea leaves. So we used spinach instead.
I first made a recipe for the Botswanan barbecue spice mix. Salt, pepper, paprika, cumin, oregano, etc. I didn’t use the alligator pepper that it called for since we used a small amount of the spice mix, and I definitely wasn’t going to find alligator pepper locally.
Like so many recipes before, this started with frying onions in a pan with oil. I should figure out how many of these international meals have started that way… I bet 80-90% of the countries have had at least one dish start with frying onions in a pan.
Anyway, green bell pepper and tomato were added to the onions and fried a bit longer. As usual, lots of pretty colors!
Then the water and bean leaves (spinach) were added and cooked for fifteen minutes.
Finally, the spice mix was added. I don’t remember how much of the spice mix we used, but I know we at least scaled the recipe by 1/4.
The final meal:
Overall, I rated this meal with a resounding “meh.” The parts of the seswaa meat that weren’t gristly had reasonably good flavor, but they were hard to come by. The cornmeal based bogobe was actually decent. I liked it much better than the similar funge or cou cou that we made in the past. However, it was still a dry/bland side dish with a dry/bland main course… not a winning combination for me. The greens were decent, but I haven’t really gotten on board with the pile of soggy/cooked greens thing yet. At least the spice mix and other veggies added good flavor. I might have been a bigger fan of this if it was more of a side dish and less of a “this has the most interesting flavor of the entire meal” thing.