Country #10 – Botswana

IMGP0090Challenge Log:

#10        Date selected:    4/3/16   Date completed: 5/3/16

Country selected:   Botswana

Dining Selection: Cooked own

What was on the menu:

  • Mma Sakina’s Bena Soup
  • Stove Top Muffins

Restaurant/Recipe address:

Recipes taken from ‘Extending the Table (World Community Cookbook)” by Joetta Handrich Schlabach.  Found on Amazon Kindle books here:

 Saturday 5th March 2016, 1.12pm

We’re heading to the South of Africa for this challenge.  Botswana is situated above South Africa, with Zambia to the North and Namibia and Zimbabwe to either side.  It’s also a tourist hot spot for safari tours with the Okavango Delta and Limpopo River as drawcards for a huge number of African wildlife species.  It’s one of the few remaining large populations of the African Wild Dog, and has the largest concentration of African Elephants in the world.

I was interested to read that it’s one of the sparsely populated countries in the world.  Given that about 70% of the country is made up of the Kalahari Desert, this isn’t too surprising. Drought and desertification are major issues and it’s reported that the Okavango Delta, one of the major semi-forested wetlands in Botswana, is drying up due to the increased grazing of livestock.  A major issue to the ecosystem and the survival of many animals.  It’s also one of the countries hardest hit by the HIV/AIDS epidemic.  Around a quarter of the population is estimated to be infected.

The food of Botswana seems to be heavily meat-based.  Whilst it’s unique in its own right, it also shares some characteristics with other South African cuisine.

Seswaa seems to be one of the most widely available recipes – beef that is heavily salted and smashed up until it is soft.  I’m not sure this appeals to me, so I’m keen to see what other recipes might be readily available which I can try instead.

Saturday 5th March 2016, 9.18pm

Well that was surprisingly successful!  I have to admit that this challenge gave me a bit of a sinking feeling when I first selected it from the jar.  Back in Africa yet again with the staple diet seemingly consisting of meat, meat, a bit of rice and grain, meat and a bit more meat.  After such a large meal last challenge and the weather remaining consistently warm here in Melbourne, I really wasn’t in the mood for anything too heavy.  To top things off, there really didn’t seem to be much online.

I decided to have a look on Amazon for any kindle books that might have recipes from Botswana in them.  I happened upon “Extending the Table (World Community Cookbook)” by Joetta Handrich Schlabach and let’s just say, I think I hit the jackpot!  Not only were there some very different options for Botswana, but there’s an amazing array of community recipes from all around the world included.  The book is commissioned by a church-run organisation so, for someone like myself who is not religiously inclined, I found it a little ‘preachy’ but the array of recipes is quite astounding and I would definitely recommend it for anyone wanting to expand their food horizons.  I suspect this will become a bit of a ‘go to’ option for several future challenges!

Extending the Table cover - Joetta Handrich Schlabach

The book also leant a hint as to why I couldn’t find much in my online search.  According to the preface of one of the recipes I used, it states that it is a culture where recipes are seldom recorded.  That explains a lot!

The two dishes I settled upon were Mma Sakina’s Bean Soup and Stove Top Muffins.

The Bean Soup is very simple and surprisingly tasty.  It only has around a half dozen ingredients but it’s thick and warming and I could imagine eating this on a cold winter’s day.  It does have beef bouillon in it so it’s not quite vegetarian fare, but I think a small substitution could definitely make this an option for vegetarians and vegans alike.

009 Bean Soup
Mma Sakina’s Bean Soup

The only slightly tricky part about the recipe is the peeling of the butter bean skins.  I cheated a little and used canned beans as dried ones were not available.  This meant they were already quite soft and made peeling quite fiddly and difficult.  I peeled about half and then ended up schmooshing the rest, picking out any of the larger skins before putting the pot back on to boil.  The peeling is optional so I wouldn’t even bother if you were after a quick prep.  It still tastes delicious!

To go with the soup, I decided to try some stove top muffins.  They’re cooked on low heat on a heavy frypan and the method intrigued me.  Again, they’re very simple to make and were surprisingly light and fluffy given the ingredients that went into them.  They reminded me quite a lot of traditional Australian Damper, just cooked quite differently.

You’re supposed to serve immediately and I can see why!  I think they could get quite heavy if you left them to sit for too long.  I’d also suggest not over-kneading the dough (as my mother kept saying ‘light fingers’).

009 Stove Top Muffins
Stove Top Muffins

Not only did the muffins go nicely with the soup but I could also imagine them going nicely with a sweet topping – perhaps jam and whipped cream (as you would a scone).  There’s also a variation in the recipe where you can choose to form the dough into small balls and deep fat fry which could be quite interesting.

I was pleasantly surprised by this challenge – both by the recipes I discovered and the recipe book which will hopefully yield more surprises in the future.  This one has really helped solidify the reasons why I’m doing this in the first place and I feel lucky to be in a country developed enough to allow me the luxury of taking on something like this.

Enough of the whimsicality!  It’s time to pick my next challenge…..

011 Egypt


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