Tomato Bredie and Mieliepap by Erica Melzer
« When I went back as an adult, after many years of absence, I felt an immediate connection. »
I am a fourth generation South African on my mother’s side, and merely second on my father’s. My parents were descendants of eastern European Jews who migrated to South Africa before WWII.
My maternal grandmother proudly considered herself a South African and was also an excellent cook. I don’t remember her ever cooking what I know now to be real local South African food. My mother certainly didn’t.
As very small children, my sister and I used to sneak to the back of the yard, where Alfred and Joanna who were employed by my grandmother for 35 years, cooked their meals over a fire, to enjoy “Pap and stew” ….
Then my parents and sisters immigrated to Israel. The only South African food I was ever exposed to very occasionally, was Boerewors (1) and biltong (2). I inherited my grandmother’s love of cooking (and apparently her talent as well) and eventually became a professional cook.
At some point when I started looking into my South African roots, I discovered the food, and connected to it right away. Who wouldn’t?! It is fantastic. It is as far as I am concerned one of the most magical cuisines in the world. So I asked my mother why she never cooked any of the dishes and found out that basically she had no idea what I was talking about.
So it turns out that I, who had never lived in South Africa as an adult, had never eaten South African food, let alone cooked it, have learnt all about it, cook it, and advertise it.
Cooking, eating reading about it, immediately makes me want to go home.
The vibe of South Africa is something that runs under my skin and fills my heart and soul. When I went back as an adult, after many years of absence, I felt an immediate connection. The color of the sky, the buzz on the street, the smells, everything felt like I had finally come home.
(1) Boerewors is a type of sausage which originated in South Africa, is an important part of South African cuisine and is popular across Southern Africa. It is made from coarsely minced beef (sometimes combined with minced pork, lamb, or both) and spices (usually toasted coriander seed, black pepper, nutmeg, cloves and all spice).
(2) Biltong is a form of dried, cured meat that originated in South Africa.
Cook a bredie slowly. It tastes better the next day !
3 – 4 hours
1 kg beef or shoulder of mutton
2 T oil
1 T butter
2 t sea salt
1⁄2 t freshly ground black pepper
2 onions, chopped
6 ripe red tomatoes (or 1 x 400g tin whole tomatoes)
1 x 70 g tin tomato paste
1 t sugar
1⁄4 t chilli powder
1⁄2 t paprika
3 gloves garlic, crushed
1 t mixed herbs
1 1⁄2 cups chicken stock
3 potatoes, diced
- Cube the meat. Heat the oil/butter mixture in a big, heavy-bottomed saucepan until the butter discolours.
- Add the meat in batches and stir-fry until brown. Remove each batch with a slotted spoon and keep aside. Season the browned meat with salt and pepper.
- Brown the onions in the remaining oil. When golden, soft and glazed, add the tomatoes, tomato paste, sugar, chilli, paprika, garlic, herbs, water and stock cube. Bring to a slow simmering boil.
- Add the prepared meat. Simmer the bredie very slowly for 2 hours. Add the cubed potatoes and continue simmering for another half an hour.
- Reduce until thickened. The bredie improves with keeping. Prepare a day in advance and leave to mature in the refrigerator.
PAP (Stiff porridge)
4 to 6
500g Maize meal – can be either fine or slightly coarser – made with either white or yellow maize. We prefer the original South African white mieliemeel, and beg/ bribe/ threaten anyone coming from South Africa to get them to bring us a few kilos…
1 liter of water
- Bring the water and salt to a rolling boil in a large, heavy based saucepan with a tightfitting lid.
- Pour the maize meal into the boiling water all in one go and stir vigorously – take care to avoid splashing the hot porridge – its BURNS!
- Put on the lid, turn the heat down really low and leave to cook undisturbed for 30 minutes (it will catch on the bottom!).
- Stir in the butter and serve hot.