It’s dinner time again, my favourite part of the day!
For dinner tonight I am bringing together 2 worlds; African and Western, both in a traditional sense.
For the African component of my dinner; I’m truly going back to my roots, with a staple I grew up eating everyday. I’m not kidding when I say everyday! It was. The only break from Uphuthu was at end of the month for a few days where we’d have rice. As a little girl, I actually used to promise myself that when i’m big and I have money, i will never eat Uphuthu again. Just from complete overdose!
This is made from Maize, similar to polenta but with a consistency like couscous, a cheaper starch in South Africa and most of Africa. It is cooked with different meats, veggies or greens. Growing up most days, we had it with Imifino(Greens in Zulu-could be the African spinach that grow in the wild/ as weeds or as pumpkin leaves)).
But I’m ‘ Ju-jing’ this up a bit and adding my recently found modern touch.
The second component of my dinner stems from the Western culture. And it is GAMMON, delicious I know! I have found myself, more often than not, at the meat section of my supermarket and asking why gammon is only eaten on Christmas? In western culture anyways. From where I come from, Christmas lunch spells homemade fried chicken, yellow coloured rice and salads, but beetroot and coleslaw are a definite must! Otherwise it’s not Christmas lunch.
This dinner is a representation of me on a plate! There are occasional cultural clashes but let’s see if this marriage will be harmonious.
So for dinner tonight: Veggie Uphuthu with an Asian styled Gammon served with sautéed baby spinach, grilled baby carrots and marinade/drippings sauce.
What do you need?
-Maize meal( there’s a quick version as well which is just as good and saves a lot of time) . – Deboned Galmon
– For marinade- 3tbs each of Honey and fish sauce. 1 tb of soy sauce and white wine viniger( doesn’t really matter what vinegar), 4 cloves of garlic, 2 tbs of grated ginger/ 3 tbs of powdered ginger, 4 diced pepperdews, 3 tsp of chilli flakes.
– an orange. – thyme. – Red wine( cup) – chicken stock 50 ml/ cube
– veggies- Baby carrot, mushrooms, red and yellow pepper, red onions, spring onions
– Greens- baby spinach
What to do?
1. The Gammon- combine all the ingredients for marinade and rub on gammon, marinade for at least 3 hrs. Transfer into roasting pan, then make shallow cuts on the skin, stick into cuts cloves of garlic and marinade mix. Put in slices of orange, thyme, red wine and cover with foil, into oven at 200 deg for 1 hr 45 min. Remove foil and let it crisp up for 15 min. Then remove and cool.
2. Making Uphuthu: Into pot, add boiling water, 1/2 tsp of salt and let it come back into the boil. Then add maize meal – stir- add more and stir until course consistency. Lower heat and cover. Stir every 5 min to ensure bottom doesn’t burn. It should be done in 20 min. See bottom of page for tip on stirring technique and how to check it is cooked.
In a hot pan with olive oil and knob(small slice) of margarine, add chopped red onions until soft, then garlic, red and yellow pepper and mushrooms. Then in 5 min, add your cooked Uphuthu, spring onions, stock for moisture and combine well. Remove from stove in 5 min.
3. Baby Spinach. Sauté lightly in hot pan with olive oil, salt and pepper, a dash of chicken stock. Remove after 5 min.
4. Grilled baby carrots- Lightly oil grill pan, add salted, rubbed in cinnamon and pepper baby carrots on the grill. Remove from pan when the carrots have the beautiful grill markings.
5. Sauce- using the drippings from the roasted gammon and marinade. Sieve droppings into pan, add a thin slice of margarine, 50ml of cream, season with pepper and thicken with corn flour. It is already salty, if too salty, add some milk.
Put the components together and serve.
NB: I do make up my own words and expressions, don’t be alarmed. Trying to start a secret tribe- jokes!
Different countries have different versions of Uphuthu and it has many names, even within South Africa. I have certainly eaten it in Zambian, Zimbabwean and Nigerian cuisine.
The stirring technique- this is more like constantly trying to crush the lumps using the sides of your pot and a wooden spoon, rotating around the pot. This is the important part of the Uphuthu cooking, otherwise it’ll have big lumps and not cook properly.
To check if your Uphuthu is done, take a little out and make it into a small ball. And throw it against the wall! If it crumbles, it’s not done but if the ball stays intact, it’s ready.
I always make my own stock but like with everything in my life, I have a back up plan. And it is ‘knorrox’ cubes OR stock cubes- just melt them in hot water and Voila instant stock!