This ‘trip’ to the continent of Africa did not involve any participation from the Big Five. (Quick fact: the Big Five consists of the Cape buffalo, rhinoceros, lion, leopard and the elephant which are what guides most want to spot in an African Safari.) What it did involve were our taste buds.
Contrary to what people believed for a long time, African cuisine does not live on raw food but centers on the history of how the continent and the countries embraced by the land journeyed through a blending of cultures and local biosystems. The cultural exchange between Europe and Africa is apparent with their use of ingredients. Although Africa is such an astounding continent in itself, it is no different with the primary thinking of what people around the world has when it comes to cooking – filling the gut. What made them different is the secondary reason behind that. The physical satisfaction came with a spiritual fulfillment that naturally coincides with food preparation. And with the experience I had in preparing this South African meal, I would say that the spiritual requirement that came with it made the process a lot more substantial. And much like Asia, Africa prides itself with regional cuisines that differ from each other.
The whole process of preparing the meal took about the whole day since I wanted to make the beef for the tomato bredie fork-tender and having no knowledge in beef cuts, I bought flank for that, which required a longer time of tenderizing the meat. According to some research, bredie is a traditional South African meal where it is an old Cape name for a dish of stewed meat (usually mutton) and vegetable, and cooked for a long time. With that, I found a recipe for yellow rice which is eaten with the bredie. So naturally, a dessert is in order. I wouldn’t want to serve an American or European dessert so to stay in the theme, I learned that South Africa has this milk tart that a lot of people say is wonderful. So I made a melktert for dessert – milk tart in English.
My mom like the tomato bredie since it tasted like a dish we have here in the Philippines called kaldereta which is a stew of meat and tomatoes as well so there is this familiarity with the taste. The rice, not so much. We are not a fan of spiced rice especially this one. Eaten with the bredie, it goes well together but in itself, not really good. The turmeric gave a wonderful yellow color but I think the cinnamon is a little too much for the recipe. I think the Matar Pulao we had for the Indian Gourmet Sunday was better.
When I was making the crust for the tart, I found the batter rather thick. Yes, I called it batter and not dough because it came out like a thick coffeecake batter and not a pie dough. I went with it so as not to waste any ingredients. I don’t have a pie plate yet so I used a 9×2-in round cake pan and shaped the batter like a pie crust. Of course as it baked, it rose but the edges were still higher than the center. I just pushed the center down to make a deeper center to hold the filling. I chilled the tart until the end of dinner. The familiarity of taste came into play once more when we had a bite of the melktert or milk tart. It was comparable to the egg pie we have in local bakeries here especially the crust in the recipe. It was a welcome taste for me, for all of us. We wanted to eat the crust more than the filling. So I guess the crust was a success and the filling was average. But, I will be making this tart again but with a new milk filling recipe. I am still in the look out.
The doors of our taste buds for African cuisine is still open. With a few picking here and there, I am sure African cuisine will surprise us a lot more.
For the next Gourmet Sunday, check out the menu below:
The Tomato bredie is a must-taste for people who likes a more Italian stew than a stew on the sweeter side. Because of the loads of tomatoes in the bredie, it gave the dish the acidity it needs for the fat from the meat. For the milk tart, I suggest you make use of the pastry crust in this recipe and try to look for a more flavorful milk filling.
Adapted from WILLIAM R of Allrecipes.com
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
3 1/2 lbs beef chuck, chopped in portions
2 tablespoons flour
1 large onion, chopped
2 1/4 lbs fresh tomatoes, chopped
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
6 whole white peppercorns
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon white vinegar
Dash of Worcestershire sauce
1 beef bouillon cube
2 potatoes, quartered
For more tender meat, you can boil the meat for two hours in high heat (I boiled mine over charcoal). Strain and reserve stock for future cooking.
Heat oil over medium-high heat in a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan. Dredge meat in flour, and cook in hot oil until well browned.
Stir in onions, and cook until onions are soft, about 5 minutes. Mix in tomatoes. Season with salt, black pepper, white peppercorns, bay leaves, brown sugar, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, and beef bouillon cube. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 1 1/4 hours. Stir occasionally, making sure nothing sticks on the bottom of the pot.
Stir in the potatoes and cook for an additional 45 minutes, until the potatoes are done.
Melktert (Milk tart)
From unrecalled source
1/4 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt
2 cups milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 tablespoon butter
1 1/4 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 1/4 tablespoon cornstarch
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg, beaten
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
For the crust, cream butter and sugar. Add the egg.
Mix flour, baking powder and salt. Combine with the creamed mixture until thoroughly incorporated.
Spread into the bottom and sides of a 9-inch pan.
Bake at 350°F for 10 to 15 minutes, until golden brown.
For the filling, combine milk, vanilla, and butter in a saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat then remove from burner.
In a separate bowl, mix flour, cornstarch and sugar. Add the beaten egg and whisk until smooth. Slowly whisk into the milk mixture. Return to the heat and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Boil and stir for 5 minutes.
Pour into pie crust and sprinkle with cinnamon.
Chill before serving.