Monday Meal Review: South Africa

 “Almost doesn’t fill a bowl”
Zulu Proverb

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: a good friend makes for a great companion in the kitchen. Through the crackle and sizzle, conversation and laughter keep love flowing… right on into the meal… So, I was thrilled when my friend Janine said she’d help me figure out the food of South Africa.

She’s South African, so I knew I was in good hands.

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But then things got a little wonky.

Because she’s vegan, I offered to make the meal entirely vegan so she could share it with us.

I never expected her to decline.

But she did.

Here’s the deal: she wasn’t just being polite. Janine insisted, with her smooth slightly British-sounding accent, that we could not eat South Africa without trying their true, traditional dishes. She says they “love their meat,” like Bobotie.

Even if she couldn’t eat the food, she thought I might as well go all out and experience the real South Africa… after all, “Almost doesn’t fill a bowl,” as the Zulus say.

I took her advice. Although this meant we couldn’t cook together, she was able to help me over the phone. And, when she came over a little later, she said walking into the house was like walking into her mom’s home.

 

The curry, the rice, all of it brought her right back, across the ocean.

Thankfully, she was able to share the Yellow Rice with me… since I made it with vegetable oil instead of butter.

(Yum)

Here’s the only group shot that worked out… as I told Keith, I was too busy loving the food (a.k.a. chewing) to smile properly.

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Now for those of you with picky children, take heart. Janine’s daughter, the most Picky of the Picky, thought hard about trying the yellow rice… It’s a heavy decision that must be weighed with the utmost gravity.

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After some negotiations, she did it!

Smiles of relief come after trying the rice. Phew. 
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I’m proud of these little ones!

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THE FOOD

Bobotie [Recipe]

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What I loved most about this dish:

Bobotie is such a fun casserole, loaded with sweet curry goodness. I found it easy to assemble – no more complicated than a frittata.  In terms of flavor, I enjoyed the sweet raisins and the slight crunch of the almonds in contrast with the curried meat… In short? Mr Picky and I both loved it. One important tip: be sure to let it cool for 15-30 minutes before slicing it, to ensure it holds together.

What I loved least about this dish:

The bay leaves added an intense floral aroma to the parts of the dish immediately underneath them. Though I was pleasantly surprised by the intense floral aroma, Mr Picky found it overwhelming and tried to eat around those pieces. If you tend to be sensitive, it might be a good plan to use just one or two. As for Ava, I chopped the Bobotie up and mixed it with her rice. I might not have ever gotten her to try it otherwise.

Yellow Rice | Geelrys [Recipe]

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What I loved most about this dish:

Everything. Easy. Quick. Savory turmeric. Sweet raisins. Pretty. I’ll be making this again and again.

What I loved least about this dish:

Nothing.

Amarula Coffee [Recipe]south.africa.food.recipe.img_9707

What I loved most about this dish:

If marula fruit is good enough for an elephant to enjoy (see the hilarious video in the recipe post), then this drink is good enough for me. This was the kind of drink I tend to tip back until the very last drop slides into my mouth. And then I make another one. Can you drink amarula by itself? Yes. But with coffee and whipped cream we’re adding a whole other layer of deliciousness. Keith, who doesn’t really drink, was a fan as well.

What I loved least about this dish:

Nothing… I’ll have no problem finishing this bottle off over the course of the chilly spring nights ahead.

 

P.S. We loved South Africa so much, we made it twice! Thanks to Jenny and Tilda for trying this meal as well.

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Comments

  1. good post…
    Which one is Jenny and which one is Tilda?

  2. Brian S. says:

    What a great meal! Hey I have a question about the bobotie. What if a friend made it in her house and then brought it over and we ate it within 2 hours of it being cooked, maybe using the microwave to warm it. Would it be as good as if eaten immediately after cooking? Oh and to go with this bobotie, which is evidently a Cape Malay dish, here is some traditional Cape Malay music sung by a group of Cape Malays.

    http://www.myspace.com/0/music-player?songid=49535509

    Oh I just read that it was a traditional Indonesian dish, discovered by Dutch colonists there before 1610, transported to South Africa before 1700, and adopted by Cape Malays as their favorite dish. It looks like a quiche.

    • Just my two cents, Bobotie is one of those dishes that can sit out for a couple of hours or be eaten the following day after being warmed up in the microwave and still taste great.

  3. One of my brother-in-laws is South African, and he introduced us to the deliciousness of mealiepap. I probably spelled it wrong, but if you haven’t tried it, you should. :)

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