Friday, July 2, 2010

Food - Pap and Vleis

Today I am going to explore one of the most delicious meals of Southern Africa - Pap and Vleis (pronounced pup and flace). Each region has their own name and variable, but it all boils down to the same thing – thick maize meal porridge and meat.

The pap is maize meal porridge, which is usually thick enough to eat with your fingers. It is called Pap in South Africa but goes by different names in different countries (e.g. Sadza in Zimbabwe and Nshima in Zambia). Pap is eaten with everything but most usually with some form of meat.

Recipe for Pap:

You will need:
A large pot and wooden spoon
1 cup of water
½ tsp salt
1 cup of maize meal (a bit more coarse than American corn meal, however, corn meal will work fine too) In various parts of the world there is "Parenta white maize meal". In North America you can substitute Cream of Wheat or Pillsbury Farina for corn meal.

In large pot, bring your water to a boil and add salt.
Gradually add the maize meal, stirring to prevent lumps.
It should now be a thick mixture (it will resemble grits until it cooks down a bit more).
Allow to simmer slowly for about 15min, stirring regularly until the maize meal is well cooked and mixture is about the consistency of Play Dough.
If too thick add water, if too thin add more maize meal.
Remove the ball of dough from the pot and place onto a serving plate – the porridge should hold its shape.

The meat served with the pap is called vleis or nyama. There are many different variables to this meat. It could be chicken, beef, mutton, fish almost anything. Some people eat the pap with a piece of barbecued meat and gravy; some people eat it only with very tasty gravy. In South Africa it is commonly eaten with a chicken or beef stew.

Recipe for Vleis – Beef or chicken stew:

You will need:
500gr fresh stewing meat – beef stew meat boneless chicken breasts, chopped
1 or 2 medium sized ripe red tomatoes, chopped
1 or 2 medium sized onions, chopped
½ tsp finely ground ginger
½ tsp black/red pepper
½ tsp chili powder
1½ tsp salt
1 tsp parsley flakes
Olive oil

Preparing the Sauce
Cover the bottom of a large saucepan with olive oil and apply medium to high heat.
When the oil is very hot, stir fry the ginger and onions for a minute. (Leave a tiny bit of ginger and onions for next step).
Sprinkle chilli powder to redden the onions and ginger.
While stirring constantly also add red pepper and black pepper.
Add 1 tsp of salt and continue to stir.
Add ½ tsp of dried parsley leaves. Continue to stir.
The contents should shimmer from the heat and a spicy aroma should be evident.
Add the cut tomatoes in while stirring constantly.
When all the tomatoes are in, and the sauce has reached/maintained boiling point, turn the heat down to medium and let boil for 10 to 15 minutes. Stir and mash the tomatoes occasionally.
Re-sprinkle some more chilli powder and stir. After five minutes turn the heat down to low, where the sauce is barely at boiling point. Cook for 10-20 minutes stirring and mashing the tomatoes as needed. Allow sauce to stand.

Preparing the Meat
Cover the bottom of a frying saucepan with olive oil and apply medium to high heat.
When the oil is very hot, add the tiny amount of ginger and onions from last step and stir-fry for a couple of seconds.
Apply high heat. Add all the cut meat into a large pile in the centre of the frying pan.
Allow bottom pieces to cook and spread/stir the rest around the pan while stirring. Do not allow any of it to burn.
After a while the water in the meat will cover the bottom of the pan and boil.
Continued to stir and add, chilli powder, black pepper, red pepper, salt and parsley leaves.
Allow all the water to boil off and continue to stir until the bottom of the pan is dark brown from the heat and spices.

Mix the meat with the tomato sauce in the tomato saucepan and stir to ensure an even mixture. Keep under low heat - barely boiling. Let simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
After 30 minutes or so turn heat off but keep saucepan on the hot burner to use the residual heat.

The meat is served in bowls and the pap on a plate. Traditionally, one would pinch off pieces, roll into a ball and dip it into the gravy of the stew. This meal is very filling and super tasty. Dare to eat it with your fingers, its lots of fun!!! Enjoy!!

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