One thing about the indigenous cooking heritage is that, there is a limitation to cooking methods and dishes that are prepared. Boiling, stewing, baking and frying have been the most prominent methods used.
With people and way of life evolving, couple that with exposure to different forms of cuisines around the world. One would say, cool, let us take the dishes that have been cooked and consumed by the people before our time and just infuse them with dishes from a different culture. Play around with different ingredients, introduce those ingredients to the “indigenous dishes” that we are used to.
The thing is, we are so reluctant to make those changes and I feel like we can introduce those changes without losing the core identity of our dishes. Let me give you a few examples:
I was doing my second year at varsity, came time for school holidays and I went home to the Eastern Cape to visit my family. I was so excited about my newly found cooking skills and methods. I wanted spoil my family and also show them what I could do. In an essence, I wanted to give them a gourmet restaurant experience at home. I made a quiche, there was a lasagna (If my memory serves me right). My aunt just looked at the food and she went to the kitchen and she started cooking pap and she chopped her veggies. My mom and sisters on the other hand, enjoyed the food, however “nice” it was, the consensus was that, the food I had prepared was not filling. So, they all joined in when my aunt finished cooking.
Obviously I was disappointed, but that situation made me realize that, you do not mess with someone’s food. Give people what they are used to, and just introduce a new ingredient or cooking method. But keep to what people are familiar with.
This friend of mine, former classmate and colleague, Zuki, she was getting married and her fiancé was visiting her family (together with his uncles) to do some negotiations. Traditionally, the soon to be bride needs to cook for the uncles. Zuki really wanted to impress the uncles, in her effort to impress she prepared dishes from the Western cultures. To cut the story short, the negotiations never occurred that day. The uncles said they wanted proper food and even mentioned that they were willing to go back once “proper” food was prepared. Zuki was distraught.
Seswaa is one of those traditional dishes. I have been playing around with it and I must tell you it is served with pap and loved that way. However, trying something different won’t hurt.
First of all, what is Seswaa?
It is meat that is cooked until it falls of the bone then pounded. In Botswana, they call it Seswaa, the Sothos call it Tshohlo or Lekgotlwane. A friend of mine, Nolu from Site C in Khayelitsha, would say that is cooking meat until falls off the bone would just consume too much electricity. That is the absolute truth, however, there are benefits to the dish. What I love about the recipe is that it doesn’t require much time to prepare, in other words, you don’t have to slave in the kitchen. You just put your meat on the stove chop and onion and garlic and off you go. I cook it until I can just pull the bones out of the pot. If you’ve been to one of those cultural dos, you’ve received a plate with meat that looks sort of pounded, it is usually the meat that is at the bottom of the pot.
What other ways can one serve or prepare a dish like Seswaa?
- Serve with Pap or Steamed Bread
- Pizza Topping
- Cottage Pie
- Serve as a Roti
- Use Sweswaa to prepare Wasgoedbondeltjies
I’ll be sharing recipes for pizza, pie and cottage pie in other posts. For now, here is a recipe of Seswaa. One can prepare it in advance and keep it frozen. Then defrost when needed and use n a recipe of your choice. Clever huh?
Seswaa / Tshohlo / Lekgotlwane (Pounded Meat) Recipe
1kg stewing mutton or beef
1,5L boiling water
2 garlic cloves, chopped
15ml beef or vegetable stock powder
2 sprigs of origanum, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 red chilli, deseeded and chopped
- Boil the meat in water together with garlic, stock powder and origanum.
- Cover and cook until the meat is soft that it falls off the bone.
- Pound the meat until it resembles strings.
- In another saucepan, heat oil and cook onion and red chilli until the onion is transluscent.
- Add the pounded meat to the
- Serve with pap or steamed bread.
- Instead of boiling the meat, roast it in the oven, covered with a foil and let it cook overnight. The flavours will be more intense.
- Seswaa can be dry, to add a bit of gravy to the dish add the gravy from the meat.
- To boost the colour of the dish, add a tablespoon of Stewing Granules.