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Poikiekos recipe on a Botswana farm

Updated on September 19, 2014

Cooking on a farm in Botswana following the traditional South African poikiekos recipe

The poikiekos recipe is about a traditional South African dish but one can eat in Botswana if one is lucky enough in life and has a friend on a farm in Botswana. This favorite dish of South Africa's Afrikaaners is also known by the names: potjie pot, pojkie pot, potjiekos or simply poikie. It has become very popular in all neighboring countries -- as a suitable form of cooking in a region where life happens mostly outdoors.

I find that the best way to share the poikiekos recipe would be through a story -- describing the process of cooking this traditional Afrikaans dish by following the stages slowly as the simmering of the food goes on. My discovery -- as an incoming guest worker -- of this tasty African food happened in Botswana, a country bordering South Africa.

A farm in Botswana is the place where then one can go on a Saturday morning. As the sky is always blue in Botswana, the trip itself to the farm is a blessed slide of images with red soil and bush, in a relaxing uniformity. I don't know about others but I never have been bored of the Botswana landscape. It only creates the peace of one's mind to think about what one has about other things to think, that's all, while the bush and the red soil seem to accompany one up to the farm on a Saturday morning.

If the friend knows about the visit, he would have done the fire long time ago. He does not need a halogen cooker. - this is how the recipe starts.

poikie
poikie
beer bottle
beer bottle

The beef, sorry, the beer in the pot for the potjie

Beer is an effective ingredient to tenderize meat

A very small amount of cooking oil, sunflower or olive, is put into the pot, so that it gives the start to the cooking. The meat is cut into pieces and left on the bottom of the pot, so that it's own moisture can provide the liquid necessary for its simmering thus protect the whole dish against the water that one ignorant person would add and spoil the taste.

There is only a bottle of beer that can be added, so as to share it with the cattle that was sacrificed for people to live. Thissingle bottle of beer is one of the secret ingredients to the poikiekos recipe. No salt is added at this time but black pepper only. The quantity is decided by any of us, free lance cooks on the site, by chance, by fate, by the early glass of schnapps which is offered by the host and which can not be refused by the visitors, according to customs from home still valid in a foreign place. Another bottle of beer can go to the guests too, if any of them is thirsty.

Let the meat cook in its own juices and the beer, slowly, like life itself in Botswana goes on, slow and gentle.

Potjie pots are similar to the Ducth oven cast iron pots. They are used for outdoor cooking and are favored by people living on farms in Africa. The heat that circulates under the lid makes slow cooking very effective and the result is very tasty.

The potjie pots come in all sizes -- from the very big ones that need more than one strong person to move it from place -- down to the very small ones that are placed on a table with the fire going on underneath in a support-- to the delight of guests and visitors to the South African bush camps' restaurants.

Simi's goats. He knows them by name

goat baby
goat baby
carrots
carrots

It is time to remember the poikiekos in the pot

At this time the vegetables should be brought close to the place of cooking -- not cleaned or cut into pieces as it would be too early and they would dry until put into the pot. The vegatbles can be anything from carrots, marrows, butternut, potatoes to small baby corns, green beans or any other vegetable with pulp. In the days when poikiekos was cooked for the first times it was all about whatever happened to be available. Nowadays the recipe includes varieties of baby vegetables as they are considered healthy and tasty.

Kaone grew up under the sun of Botswana

motswana boy
motswana boy

.

Hey, hot are the days in Botswana!!! Especially for us, who did not grow up under its searing sun to get used, bare skinned except for the red string against the witchcrafts that mothers tie around the waist of little kids. One such little boy, Kaone, is always with us, listening to our language that he eventually came to understand.

The prized cock -- one day it will go into the potjie pot -- but today he is alive and admired - Simi's cocks are sometimes eaten up by the pythons

cock
cock

.

With the patience of one who knew what he wants, Simi encouraged the friendship between his white meat chicken with the local Tswana chicken, good for laying eggs. Simi always had some prized cocks he used to further the friendship between the two races.He has now his own brand of chicken, quite famous around Gaborone that he sells for ten times the price of the usual. They are proudly big of stature and colourful, good layers and meaty. They are very smart chicken I have to admit. They are also the local python's favorites. His cocks are bought by locals for improving their own stock except when a sneaky python gets hold of them before. I never knew how came that the pythons always knew to choose the best cock Simi had, the proudest, the biggest, the strongest.

African farm stories - Life on African farms

Life on an African farm is described by many that have lived it.

The mischievous python snake - pythons like eating Simi's animals, as they are fat, well looked after

snake
snake

.

Simi had also and looked well after the fat chicken, the fat goats. Only the dogs were not fat and occasionally some mischievous python snake that was punished for eating one or other of his prized animals was kep on a strict diet with nothing to eat, locked up in an empty dwelling.. Simi used to be very angry with those bad snakes and there were moments when the snake's life hanged in a balance as our Chinese friend, Mr. Hu, was always ready to apply the ultimate punishment on it and eat it with his Chinese friends. Maybe the law prohibiting the killing of pythons in Botswana played also a role in Simi's good forgiving heart. Enough to remember that I never managed to get that bite of snake that I was hoping for during those years, as Mr Hue promised he would give me if…………

Pythons have never given up on Simi's fat little animals, they always try their luck again and again. There is no justice in the fact that the Botswana law does not provide for fair punishment when pythons offend the farmer and eat up his animals.

Simi teaching some lessons about the African Rock Pythons - The African Rock Python -- living on a farm in Botswana

Returning to the poikiekos and the pot - The potjie pot has almost just cooked by itself the poikiekos

pot in the boma
pot in the boma

.

The evening in Botswana comes early and suddenly and we all remember the poikie kos, like hungry lions and all that we are after a day on the farm.

When Simi says uhh, it's late, we all jump into action and quickly clean the vegetables that must be added in the pot. They can not be peeled and cleaned before as they would dry, oxidize and loose precious nutrients because of the day's heat.

Now in go into the poikie pot all the vegetables, placed in layers on top of the meat: the carrots, the potatoes first, the butternut cuts, as they are the hardest, further on top of them the layer of the baby marrows and all the other vegetables that are available. Garlic, salt, more pepper, curry powder or any other preferred spice is added now. Attention returning to the poikie kos, we are all suddenly chefs.

From this moment, the lid must be put on and no one can stir into the pot.

It is still a wait.

In a halogen cooker the food would be long done, but no one is missing the modern device.

Home far from home, under the African sky

african night
african night

.

40 minutes later will find us prepared, hands washed and seated, the poikiekos ready. Once the lid is lifted, we can dish. We all eat and there is quiet and peace in the warm dark. The sounds of surrounding nature are the only music . We could feel that happiness is there, for everybody, because God loves us all.

We used to sit in the evenings in the boma and watch the stars and talk small under the velvety deep purple sky of Botswana. The stars that we saw were different from the stars we used to see back home but we were all happy as the South African wines are very good indeed and the poikiekos tasty.

Potjie kos recipes from old cooks

This is Potjiekos
This is Potjiekos

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Movies from Botswana

Leon Schuster and Alexander Mc Call Smith about Botswana.

'

Biltong -- another popular food in Southern Africa - Instructions, recipes for home made South African biltong

Make your own biltong dryer and follow easy South African biltong recipes to make your home made biltong.

The history of biltong

There are dry meet recipes all over the world but for South Africans the biltong will be forever the favorite -- no matter where they live.

Say a prayer for Simi. He was found dead in the yard at the farm in Botswana on the 31rst of March, 2011.

Simi worked hard to save enough money and buy his own farm in Botswana.

He came to the stage when now the money was there. We were planing to buy a farm together and introduce the Aquaponic system of growing vegetables in tunnels. I am so sorry that Simi never saw his dream come true. May his soul rest in peace!

Sa ii fie tarana usoara!

Did you try the poikie kos?

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      Ashley 2 years ago

      This particular blog, “See us at AFRASCO’s ananul AGM meeting at theSun Hotel in Gabarone on 8-9 November 2011. | Flight Data Services” wasgreat. I’m producing out a duplicate to present to my personal friends.Thanks for the post,Hugh

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      anonymous 5 years ago

      Beer added to share with the cattle that ere sacrificed so people might live, what an awesome concept that just makes honorable sense and so does the poikiekos recipe for a portable recipe for a life lived many outdoors. Beautifully presented with your wonderful insights and adding just a bit of angel dust to your poikiekos, it won't change the flavor a bit.

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      dellgirl 5 years ago

      Very informative lens, thanks for sharing. It really held my attention!

    • profile image

      dellgirl 5 years ago

      Very informative lens, thanks for sharing. It really held my attention!

    • profile image

      Nicuta 5 years ago

      sa imi faci si mie odata poikiekos!

    • juditpaton profile image

      Iudit Gherghiteanu 6 years ago from Ozun

      This is a very nice lens again, and wonderful photos.can't wait to see more about Botswana from you.