Christmas is celebrated in South Africa much the same way as in other countries except that for them it occurs in summer instead of winter. Families gather for a large Christmas feast with ham, in a variety of forms, as a very popular entree. The most popular is gammon, which is a Chinese type of cured ham that is uncooked and very salty. Since it is not readily available, probably Smithfield and Virginia hams are the closest we can come to a true gammon. If an uncooked ham is unavailable, you can alter the cooking time in this recipe and still have an elegant entree to grace any holiday table. After lunch, families then visit the homes of friends to exchange a “Christmas box” of food.
Pili pili, often called piri piri, is served as a table condiment in
West Africa, where it heats up grilled meat, poultry, shrimp, and fish.
Nearly any green chile can be used to make this sauce. Some recipes call
for tomatoes or tomato sauce to be added.
1 pound serrano or jalapeño chiles, seeds and stems removed, coarsely
1 medium onion, chopped
1 clove garlic
Juice of one lemon
Water to thin
Place all of the ingredients, except the water, in a food processor and
blend them into a paste, adding water until the desired consistency is
achieved. Store in a jar in the refrigerator, where it will keep for
Okra is frequently used in African stews as a thickening agent, and it was African slaves who brought okra to the New World.
- 4 pounds chichen, cut into serving pieces
- * Flour for dredging
- 3 tablespoons peanut oil
- 2 cups chopped onion
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons cayenne
- 4 cups chopped tomato
- 1 quart chicken stock
- 1 pound okra, cut into rounds
- 1 tablespoon flour
- 1/4 cup warm water
Wash the chicken and pat the pieces until they are dry. Place the flour in a paper or plactic bag and dredge the chicken, a few pieces at a time.
Heat the oil in a large, heavy casserole and add the chicken, a few pieces at a time, and brown them.
Add the onion, salt, cayenne, tomato, and stock and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover, and simmer until the chicken is tender, about 50 to 60 minutes.
When the chicken is tender, add the okra and simmer for 10 minutes. The okra should thicken the stew. If the stew is not thick enough, mix the flour and the water and stir into the stew.
This is one of the more unusual vegetarian African appetizers. Note the combination of bananas, chiles, and ginger which make for a sweet and spicy taste.
- 2 bananas
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 1 tomato, chopped
- 1/2 green chile pepper, such as jalapeno, stem and seeds removed, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon grated ginger
- 1 cup flour
- 1/8 cup water
- Peanut oil for frying
Peel the bananas and mash. Add chopped onion, tomato and chile pepper and mash again. Add the salt and ginger. Mix flour and water, then add mash and stir well. Heat the oil until hot enough for deep-frying. Drop mixture half-teaspoonful at a time into oil and fry until golden grown. Ball shoul be crisp on the outside, but soft on the inside. Served as hot or cold snack, or hot with a main dish.
A “high tea” treat in South Africa, this spicy pastry of sorts originated in India but was transferred to South Africa by railway workers. Feel free to add more heat by increasing the amount of cayenne.
- 1 pound ground beef
- 3 green bell peppers, chopped
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 2 teaspoons caraway seeds
- 1 pound onions, finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon cayenne
- 5 crushed cardamon pods
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- Juice of two lemons
- 1 3/4 pound flour
- oil for frying
Place the ground beef in a large bowl and add the chopped green peppers, salt, garlic, caraway seeds, onions, cayenne pepper, cardamon, cinnamon and juice of lemons. Combine throughly. Flour a surface suitable to rolling out dough. Place the meat mixture on the floured surface. Knead in one cup of flour at a time until all of the flour is kneeded in. Next form meat-dough balls about the size of a small meatball and fry on all sides in the oil until browned. Frying time is ten to fifteen minutes per batch. Drain on paper towels and serve warm.
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