Well, as promised in my recent post on stuffed beef fillet on the braai for IMBB6, I have put together a few authentically South African side dishes for a braai or barbecue. As I mentioned in the original post, braais have come a long way since the days of our forefathers and today you are as likely to find rocket and parmesan salad, caprese, focaccia, vegetable kebabs or couscous served as side dishes at a braai. However, there are some side dishes that are rooted in your childhood memories of braais – dishes which produce puzzled looks when we longingly describe them to Londoners at barbecues and suspicious examination if we actually get round to making them! These are the dishes I thought I’d share with you. Of course, there are the run-of-the-mill things like a green salad, a potato salad or sliced bread, but these are familiar & I won’t spend more time on them. Instead I will share with you the joys of pap & train smash, roosterkoekies and braai sarmies.
For today, let’s look at pap & train smash. OK, don’t panic, this has nothing to do with the consequences of the deteriorating British rail network ;-). Train smash to a South African is a savoury sauce/stew made predominantly of tomatoes and onions. (I believe the name has military origins, where it can be any dish that’s red because of tomatoes, or a dish thrown together out of leftover rations. I have also found Australian references to the term, but these seem to refer more a type of meal as opposed to a single dish.) The tomatoes and onions are boiled together with seasonings and water and thickened with cornstarch to form a satisfying relish to be used at a braai. I must admit that in SA, I never make my own – why bother when every supermarket sells a variety of canned versions, usually called tomato & onion mix or braai relish, which can be spiced up to your personal taste! Check out the All Gold website – 4th product under “Tomato Products”. But here in London, braai relish is a foreign concept and the best we get is plain chopped tomatoes – just not the same 🙁 So if you want (or need) to make your own, here is a simple recipe from recipes4us.
Pap (an Afrikaans word – say “pup”), literally translated, means porridge, but in fact it is a closer relative to polenta or grits. It is made with maize/corn meal and water and is a traditional staple food of most indigenous South Africans in much the same was as rice or noodles would be eaten in other cultures. Depending on the water/maize meal ratio, pap can be either runny (slap pap); firm (stywe pap); or crumbly (krummelpap), and can be eaten for breakfast with milk and sugar, or served with a savoury sauce (like train smash!) at a barbecue. The only difference between these three types of pap is the maize meal to water ratio. Slap pap (ideal for breakfast) will have a 1:2 ratio where you need one part maize meal and two parts water; for stywe pap the ratio would be 3 parts maize meal and 2 parts water; and for krummelpap (also called putu pap) you would need a ratio of 2.5 parts maize meal to 2 parts water.
There are few things more satisfying than pap, train smash and boerewors – comfort food second to none! Try pap and train smash with your next BBQ, or instead of mash and gravy at any meal. Simple and delicious. Below are the recipes for train smash, krummelpap, which is somewhere between polenta and couscous, and stywe pap which is more like mashed potato.
TRAIN SMASH (tomato and onion relish)
1 tbsp sunflower oil
3 onions, chopped
3 tomatoes, chopped
240ml tomato sauce
5 Tbsp vinegar
5 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
2 Tbsp sugar
½ tsp dry mustard powder
Salt and pepper
1 tsp cornflour/cornstarch
1. Heat the oil in a saucepan, add the onions and tomatoes and sautée gently until softened.
2. Add the remaining ingredients and cook for 2 minutes.
3. Mix the cornflour with a little cold water to form a paste then add to the saucepan and continue to cook, stirring constantly until thickened. Serve as a sauce with meats, fish or pap.
KRUMMELPAP (serves 6)
750 ml water
1.5 tsp salt
1 kg medium or coarse corn meal/maize meal
Bring the salted water to boil. Turn the heat down to its lowest setting and carefully pour the meal into the centre of water to form a cone, but DO NOT STIR! Allow the pot to steam undisturbed with the lid on for 20 mins. After 20 mins, cut the meal with a fork until the texture is fine-grained and crumbly, like couscous. Replace the lid, return to the stove on low heat and allow to steam, cutting again every 20 mins until done.
STYWEPAP (serves 6)
1 tsp salt
750g fine or medium corn/maize meal
Use a large heavy-bottomed saucepan and bring the salted water to the boil. Add the maize meal and whisk well to mix. Close the lid, reduce the heat to the lowest setting and simmer for 2-3 hours, stirring approximately every 30 mins. When it is done, the consistency will be very stiff, like thick mashed potatoes