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Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Classic, basic african style meat relish and pap

I said in an earlier post that the cupboard was bare! And that is what a lot of african cooking is all about. Simple cheap food.

To translate the title above: meat relish is meat cooked normally with onions, oil if available and garlic and green peppers and chillis IF available.
Pap is maize meal porridge cooked in a unique African way to a stiff texture that can be formed into balls with the fingers. In the region it is called "Papa" "Sadza" "Putu"and "Nshima" to mention just a few. It looks easy to make, but it is NOT easy to get it right. In Zimbabwe, African men cook it differently to women. Both are good, but the womens method is far nicer in my opinion, so that is what I am going to explain. It is the way I was taught to cook pap by an ancient camp cook many years ago when I was a game ranger. (Yawn grandad!)

Usehalf a kilo of meat. This can be shin, blade, chicken (cook half the time) or short rib or any cheap cut of meat. The delicacy in Africa is fatty meat. (I Know, I know it unhealthy, but you should see how very healthy africans are.)
brown the meat. Add a large chopped onion, even two if you have. Tomatoes and green peppers and chopped garlic can be added if it available. Thats the thing....there IS no fixed recipe. Its the method that is important. And the onions. Chillis are always added if available. One chopped chilli for the half kilo of meat is about right. Potatoes can also be added. Cover with water.
After browning, cover with water. Simmer and reduce to gravy for an hour and a half. Meanwhile get half a 2 liter pot of water boiling.

Put 2 cups of maize meal in a bowl and add enough cold water to wet it all to a sort of crumbly mix. Too much water is no problem. If you dont do this pre-cold water thing, you will get bad lumps of uncooked porridge when you toss dry meal into boiling water. It cant be done!
Add a little of the cold mix to the boiling water and stir for a few minutes until you get a thick porridge that blips slowly. Turn the heat right down and put a lid on it. Stir every 5 minutes for 20 minutes. Then add about a cup of the mixture and vigourously stir it into the porridge. Only experience will tell when its right. Put the lid on again for another 20 minutes. When you take the lid off, if you got it right, it should have puffed up to the lid with steam. Collapse it with a spoon and add another couple of tablespoons of meal mix. Lid on for another 10 minutes. If it seems soft when you serve it, dont panic, it will set a bit as it cools to a perfect consistency. Keep on trying until you get it right. It takes Shona women in Zimbabwe many years to get it right, and she is highly regarded in the community when she does!!
photo by Libby

This meal gets served onto a soup plate and presented as you see in the photo above by Lukas.


  1. you right this is not easy to make and you need to have a lot of strengh in your hand,despite my background it is difficult for me to make it properly;

  2. You never forget your culture!I bet if you bought a pack of maize meal or sorghum meal, got a pot of water going, it would all come together!

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