Traditional cuisine with Dorah Sitole
In her food tour of southern Africa, Dorah Sitole learns a ting or two in Botswana
The first time I visited Botswana, I was struck by how polite and friendly the Batswana people were and the pride they took in their homes. Going back a few years later, this time with the sole purpose of learning more about the cuisine, I found nothing much had changed.
I was honoured to spend a day at Mokolodi Nature Reserve, about 20km south of Gaborone. Situated within the game reserve is a splendid mansion, home to the Kirby family, former owners of the reserve. Here I got to meet their lovely housekeeper, Sebautluang Tseko, fondly known as Madinko. She gladly showed me how to prepare and cook the challenging Setswana sour porridge - bohobe bating. I have a husband who just loves ting, inspired by his late mom who was from Botswana. Ting is an acquired taste: as I get older I enjoy it more.
For many years I had a mental block against making it. In the townships, there is always someone who is considered to be an expert at making it. As a result, most women feel there is no way they can make it as well as the experts and tend to avoid it. But Madinko started me cooking ting yamabele. She also cooked seswaa (pounded meat), sethathlabole (sour soft porridge) and phane (mopani worms).
At the Mokolodi Nature Reserve restaurant, chef Tash Sparrow demonstrated her favourite recipes for me. Her venison ragout is just as good when made with ostrich.
BOHOBE BATING YAMABELE (Mabele sour porridge)
To prepare ting paste, take a quantity of mabele and mix it with an equal quantity of warm water, cover and leave to ferment for at least 2 days.
2 litres water
1 litre fermented ting paste
Bring water to the boil in a large pot. Pour in half the ting paste and stir constantly to avoid lumps. When the paste is smooth, cover the pot and leave to cook slowly for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the rest of the paste. Cook for a further 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Serve immediately with a meat stew and morogo (wild leaves).
Serves 6 - 8
1kg ostrich or venison stewing steak, cut into portions
30g (¼ cup) cake flour
45ml (3 tbsp) oil
2 onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
3 ripe tomatoes, peeled and chopped
2 beef stock cubes, dissolved in 625ml (2½ cups) water
125ml (½ cup) red wine
125ml (½ cup) fresh cream
45ml (3 tbsp) chopped fresh herbs (parsley, rosemary, basil, thyme, etc)
Salt and black pepper, to taste
60ml (¼ cup) cranberry sauce (optional)
Coat the meat well with flour. Heat the oil in a large saucepan and brown the meat evenly all over. Remove from the pan and set aside to keep warm. Add the onions and garlic and sauté until transparent. Add tomatoes, stock and wine, stir and return the meat to the pan. Bring to the boil, cover and simmer over low heat for 1 hour or until the meat is soft and the sauce has thickened (add more water during cooking if necessary). Stir in the cream, herbs and seasoning, heat through and serve with cranberry sauce if desired.