Puff-puff, Picanha steak: Six dishes to feast on during the World Cup

Dip into the cuisine of six of the favourite teams taking to the field for the big kickoff this weekend

20 November 2022 - 00:00
By Hilary Biller
A Cameroonian street vendor making puff-puffs.
Image: Wikimedia A Cameroonian street vendor making puff-puffs.


A typical street food in Cameroon. Savoury or sweet, its name is apt, as I discovered making the recipe. I was reminded of the similarity to amagwinya /vetkoek, though this is a smaller mouthful. The recipe calls for much more water than used in amagwinya dough, turning it into a wet batter which when cooked is light and fluffy, hence the name.

The Cameroonian women street sellers deftly dip their fingers into the wet dough, scooping it into their palm, squeezing it into a round shape and then releasing it into the hot oil. Traditionally, savoury puff-puffs are the accompaniment to a bean stew —  a mixture of dried red beans, soaked overnight and cooked with onion, garlic, tomatoes, ginger, bay leaf, seasoning and thyme. The beans are flavoured with the saltiness of dried fish; use a teaspoon of Asian shrimp paste. Or try a South African favourite, a generous scoop of chakalaka.


Makes about 24-36 depending on size


240g (2 cups) cake wheat flour

5ml (1 tsp) salt

5ml (1 tsp) dry/instant yeast

30ml (2 tbsp) sugar or more for a sweeter version

200ml (¾ cup) warm water

Oil for deep frying


  1. Sift the flour and salt together. Add the yeast and sugar and stir through the flour. 
  2. Bring the dough together with the water. Set aside covered for 60-90 minutes.
  3. Either spoon or scoop up the dough with your fingers, shaping it in your palm, and carefully drop into hot oil. Cook, turning until golden brown all over.
  4. Best made on the day of eating.
Choripan, the Argentinian version of a hot dog.
Image: 123rf.com/zkruger Choripan, the Argentinian version of a hot dog.


Every country has its version of the hot dog. In Argentina, it’s a spicy, fatty and juicy chorizo sausage, halved lengthways, grilled or fried and served in a roll topped with fried onions and if desired a spoonful of their famous fresh green chimichurri sauce — an uncooked sauce used in cooking and as a table condiment. It’s so good it’s worth making double the quantity and storing it in the fridge for up to 10 days.



Chimichurri sauce

Makes about 1 cup

125ml (½ cup) olive oil

30ml (2 tbsp) red wine vinegar

125ml (½ cup) fresh coriander, finely chopped 

60ml (¼ cup) fresh parsley, finely chopped

3-4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

1 red chilli, seeded and finely chopped

2.5ml (½ tsp) dried oregano

5ml (1 tsp) coarse salt

Freshly ground pepper to taste


  1. Combine all the ingredients in a glass jar with a screw top lid.  Shake well and allow to stand for a couple of hours before using.
  2. Even better made the day before to allow the ingredients to blend for optimum flavour.
  3. It’s a versatile sauce and can be dolloped over meat, chicken, lamb or seafood or used as a dressing on a salad.
Belgian fries and mayonnaise — definitely not salad cream.
Image: 123rf.com/barezko Belgian fries and mayonnaise — definitely not salad cream.


We all know how to make fries and if starting from scratch seems hard work there are many ready-made frozen fries on the market — all you need is hot oil.

The secret to this Belgian speciality is the quality of the mayo dolloped on top — it’s rich and creamy and, no, salad cream doesn’t cut the mustard. My secret to a good mayo is to whip it up using a stick blender — it’s quick, easy and tasty and is one of my fav kitchen hacks.



1 large egg — unbroken

15ml (1 tbsp) fresh lemon juice and if desired add finely grated lemon rind

5ml (1 tsp) French mustard

1 clove of garlic, finely chopped or grated

250ml (1 cup) vegetable oil (don’t use olive oil as the flavour dominates)

Salt to taste


  1. Carefully place the egg, lemon juice and mustard in the bottom of the plastic jug that comes with the stick blender or use a glass jar that is big enough to accommodate the blender head. Ideally more narrow than wide.
  2. Add the garlic and pour over the oil.
  3. Carefully place the head of the stick blender over the egg yolk and turn on to high speed without moving the head.
  4. Watch how magically the mayonnaise forms and blend until all the oil is emulsified.
  5. Season to taste and dollop of the fries either served in a paper cone or plate.

British Balti pie has a delicious curry filling and a cult following among football fans.
Image: Yudhika Sujanani British Balti pie has a delicious curry filling and a cult following among football fans.


A delicious curry pie that has a cult following among football fans. No match is complete without a Balti and lager. It was originally created by My Pie London Company, which is famous for its pies. Characteristic of the pie is how the turmeric seeps into the pastry, staining it a delicious yellow.

What’s not to love about chicken pieces bathed in a spicy sauce and baked in melt-in-the-mouth puff pastry? We asked the famed foodie Yudhika of Yudhika & Company (#yudhikaco or orders can be placed on 060-988-5003) from that fabulous little curry shop and accidental bakery in Fourways, Johannesburg for her version of the Balti pie, and shared the picture and the taste of her beauties.

Inspired by a recipe by Indian chef and author Hari Ghotra, I put the recipe to the test and wasn’t disappointed. I can vouch for its deliciousness. If you prefer not to encase it in pastry, it makes a damn fine rendition of a chicken curry — serve with rice and sambals.


Makes 8-10 pies


3cm piece of ginger, grated

4-6 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped

2 large red tomatoes, grated

10ml (2 tsp) garam masala

10ml (2 tsp) ground cumin

15ml (1 tbsp) ground coriander

7.5ml (1 ½ tsp) turmeric

5ml (1 tsp) chilli powder

15ml (1 tbsp) full cream plain yoghurt


30ml (2 tbsp) canola oil

5ml (1 tsp) brown mustard seeds

1 bay leaf

1 onion, finely chopped

4-6 green chillies, seeded and chopped or less to suit personal taste

700g boneless chicken thigh fillets, cut into bite-sized pieces

½ bunch of spinach, washed and chopped removing the tough stems

15ml (1 tbsp) lemon juice

1 packet of puff pastry

1 egg lightly beaten with pinch of salt


  1. Combine the ginger and garlic and set aside. Blend the tomatoes in a bowl with the spices, yoghurt and a generous sprinkling of salt.
  2. Preheat the oil in a non-stick pan and add the mustard seeds. When they start to pop add the bay leaf and onion. Reduce the heat and cook the onion gently for 10 minutes before adding the ginger and garlic with the chillies and continue cooking over low heat for 10 minutes until the onions are golden. Add a splash of water if it starts to catch.
  3. Stir in the tomato and spice mix, increase the heat and stir until the mixture thickens and it becomes a fragrant masala paste — about 10 minutes.
  4. Add the chicken pieces and stir to coat in the masala. Reduce the heat, cover with a lid and leave to cook for about 20 minutes, stirring from time to time and it will produce a nice gravy. Add the spinach and cook for a few minutes. Add the lemon juice. Check the seasoning – I found it needed salt and a generous grinding of black pepper – and cool completely.
  5. Roll out the puff pastry and cut it out to line foil pie containers and discs for the top. Divide the cold filling between the lined pie dishes. Brush the edges with water and top with a pastry lid pressing the edges down securely. Make a cross in the middle of pastry with a sharp knife. Brush with egg and bake at 200°C for 15 -20 minutes until golden brown.

Brazil's picanha steak is threaded onto metal kebab sticks, with the fat side folded around the meat and cooked over a flame.
Image: 123rf.com/yamoto Brazil's picanha steak is threaded onto metal kebab sticks, with the fat side folded around the meat and cooked over a flame.



Known for top-quality meat, picanha is a Brazilian cut of a delicious triangular eye of rump covered in a generous slab of fat that when cooked is transformed into a tender and juicy sensation.

Luckily in South Africa our butchers have caught on to the popularity of the cut.

It is versatile in that it is excellent cooked over a fire, in the oven or cut into thick steaks and threaded onto metal kebab sticks, as the Brazilians do, with the fat side of the steak skewered around the meat and cooked over an open flame.

Seasoning is  coarse salt which allows the beef to speak for itself.

Senegal's centimes are named after the French coins because of the shape.
Image: Hilary Biller Senegal's centimes are named after the French coins because of the shape.


These popular biscuits are named after centime (five-cent) coins because of their shape. This traditional recipe reminded me of the South African spice cookie, soetkoekie, but with less spice. A popular street food in Senegal, they are particularly enjoyed by children who buy them on their way home from school.

Simple to make, the biscuits are topped with a smear of peanut butter and sprinkled with crushed peanuts.


Cinq Centimes

Makes about 36 biscuits


250g (500ml) cake wheat flour

Pinch of salt

2.5ml (½ tsp) ground cinnamon

100g (½ cup) sugar

100g butter, softened

30ml (2 tbsp) oil

5ml (1 tsp) vanilla essence

1 egg

Smooth peanut butter

125ml (½ cup) crushed peanuts, lightly toasted or plain


  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C. In a large mixing bowl sift the flour, salt and cinnamon together. Add the sugar and mix through.
  2. Rub in the butter using your fingertips until you have a mixture like breadcrumbs.
  3. Combine the oil, vanilla essence and egg and beat lightly before adding to the mixture. If the dough is too stiff add another lightly beaten egg — add half the egg and see if the mixture requires more.
  4. Knead the dough and shape into a ball. Cover well with plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.
  5. Divide the dough into two and roll out one portion between two pieces of greaseproof paper to about 5mm thick, cut into 3-4cm rounds and place on a greased baking tray.
  6. Bake for 15-18 minutes until lightly golden. Cool completely then spread the biscuits with peanut butter and sprinkle with chopped nuts.