Thursday, April 1, 2010

Lesotho - Chakalaka

Lesotho is nicknamed “the kingdom in the sky.” The country is mountainous and has out-of-reach villages with thatched huts and canyons and lies entirely above 4,593 feet in elevation. It’s landlocked and in the middle of South Africa, a little dot one could miss if they weren’t looking for it. Lesotho is relatively peaceful and politically stable, although resources are scare and the poverty rate is high. It’s remained mostly untouched by modern developers, probably because of the country’s harsh terrain.

Lesotho has a “rainbow cuisine” of many different worldly influences. Examples of Lesothoan dishes are spicy curries, chutneys, pickled fish, fish stews, venison, ostrich, and fresh fruits and vegetables.

For our Lesothoan meal I made Chakalaka, a vegetable curry stew, and Putupap, cornmeal porridge. Everyone loved the Chakalaka; it was flavorful and good for us. We weren’t as crazy about the Putupap. Perhaps it’s an acquired taste.


3 medium onions, diced
3 medium carrots, diced
2 medium green bell pepper, diced
Curry powder, to your taste
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste
Green chilies (optional)
1 vegetable bouillon cube
1 tsp chili powder
1-2 TBSP oil, for frying
1/4 cup water

Fry the onion and pepper together with oil in a large skillet until onion is translucent. Add the carrots, tomatoes, water and all the seasonings to your liking and cook for about 15-20 minutes.


3 cups water, boiling
2 tsp salt
1 lb fine white corn meal
Cold water

Bring 3 cups of water to a boil. Pour corn meal into center of water to form a pile. Add salt, but do not stir.

Remove pot from stove. Put lid on and let it sit for 5 minutes. Stir, return to heat and simmer over very low heat until putupap is fine grained and crumbly.

Stir with a fork or wooden spoon, add cold water, and simmer for another 30 minutes.

Serve with tomato sauce or gravy.

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