144. Namibia: Potjiekos

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Namibia is not the cheapest but it is one the safest and cleanest places to visit in Africa and that is worth something. Namibia is a very dry country (the driest in Sub-Saharan Africa) and has a lot of desserts, even on the coast. The North Coast of Namibia is dangerous for sailboats the Portuguese called it “The Gates to Hell” and the Bushmen called it “The land God made in anger” but nowadays it’s commonly known as “Skeleton Coast”. Why all these spooky names you ask… Well because of rare geological phenomena in which the colossal dunes merge with the ocean. You could say that an ocean of sand meets an ocean of water. A lot of ships sank there and you can find a lot of shipwrecks in the middle of the desert. Shipwrecks are not the only spooky thing you can find in the desert there is also Kolmanskop ghost town in Southern Namibia. It was once a very rich mining village, now it’s swallowed up by the desert.

Most of the Namibian population lives in the North of the country because that is where you can find the most cultivable land. Namibia’s main industries are diamonds, meat, and fish. But especially diamonds since they are one of the top 10 producers worldwide.

Things you didn’t know about Namibia:

  • The name ‘Namib’ translates as “vast place”, which is apt given that Namibia is one of the least crowded destinations on the planet. Only Greenland, the Falkland Islands, Mongolia and Western Sahara (in that order) have fewer people per square kilometer.
  • If you’re hoping to catch a glimpse of the fastest land animal on the planet, Namibia is the place to go – for it is home to the world’s largest population of free-roaming cheetahs.
  • In the south of Namibia you can find the largest Canyon in Africa “The Fish Canyon”
  • In the Namib dessert, there is a strange natural phenomena known as fairy circles. Fairy circles are only found in the dry regions of Africa and Australia. The grass naturally grown in a circle pattern with an empty dirty or sandpit in the middle. Scientists have theories as to why this happens, but so far no exact explanation.

Potjiekos is a one-of-a kind dish. The Dutch brought the dish to South Africa and Namibia, when navigator Jan van Riebeeck arrived at the Cape of Good hope in 1652. As African trade increased the Africans were introduced to many new herbs and spices. These spices made Potjiekos into the unique dish it is now, very far from the dish I know from living in the Netherlands my entire life “Hutspot”. There is a question what distinguishes Potjiekos from a stew. Well I have the answer for you stews are for stirring, a potjiekos should not be stirred! The flavours of the ingredients should mix as little as possible. Yes this dish takes a while, but you can put it needs to simmer for a few hours but the work itself is really really easy and you can do other stuff in the meanwhile.

Ingredients:

  • 1,3 kg beef for stewing
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 onions chopped
  • 700ml beefstock
  • 1 glass red wine
  • 450 gram carrots slices
  • 450 gram baby potatoes
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 3 tablespoons curry powder
  • 1 tablespoon turmeric
  • 4 kaffir lime leaves
  • ½ cup milk
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Instructions:

  1. In a potjie pot or Dutch oven with hot oil, add the lamb, season with salt and pepper and cook on medium heat, until browned. Remove the meat and set aside.
  2. Add the onions to the pot and sauté until soft for about 8 minutes.
  3. Return the meat to the pot, then add the wine and enough beef stock to cover the ingredients. Turn the heat to low and simmer covered for one hour.
  4. Add the carrots and potatoes and continue simmering for 30 minutes.
  5. Mix the sugar, curry powder and turmeric with the milk and stir into the stew.
  6. Bring back to boil and simmer for an additional 30 minutes.

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