We are have extremely cold weather here on the East Coast. Temperatures have dipped into the negatives. It’s freezing!
This got me a little nostalgic about Botswana and the current hot temperatures throughout the land. It’s the rainy season which means that while there will be some rain here and there, there will also be some extremely warm days with temperatures soaring into the 90’s.
With Botswana on my mind, I decided to warm things up by preparing Seswaa – a simple but delicious traditional dish from Botswana made with meat (usually beef or goat), salt and water. The meat is boiled along with the salt and water until soft. It is then pounded with a pestle until it falls apart similar to shredded barbecue pork or beef. It is served with what is known as paleche/pap/mealie meal which is similar to polenta.
Seswaa is traditionally prepared for large gatherings and cooked outdoors, on a wood fire and in a three legged cast iron pot. The scene would be something like this:
Back to reality where I do not own a three legged pot nor do I have the space, and or ability to light an outdoor wood fire in these frigid temperatures. Without all the proper tools, I endeavored to make seswaa using my trusty slow cooker and a few additional ingredients that I had on hand.
1½ – 2 lbs beef (I used London broil)
1 tbsp oil
1 tsp salt
2-3 sprigs fine leaf thyme
¼ tsp ground hot pepper
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 cup beef stock/2 bouillon cubes dissolved in 1 cup water
Season beef with salt pepper and pepper
Heat oil in a cast iron skillet and brown beef on both sides
Transfer beef to slow cooker
Add thyme, Worcestershire sauce and stock to slow cooker
Turn on high and allow to cook for approximately 5 hours
Check meat for tenderness after 4 hours. If soft and falls apart easily then it is ready. If not allow some additional cooking time until desired tenderness is reached
Once meat is cooked, remove from slow cooker and use two forks to shred the meat
Note: There should be some broth left in the slow cooker which you can use to make a gravy if desired. Simply add 3 tbsp of the broth to a cup, add 1 tbsp of flour, mix until a smooth paste is formed and add the past to the broth in slow cooker. Allow broth to thicken in slow cooker (about 15 minutes).
Serve seswaa with paleche, mashed potatoes or my new found favorite, rice flour which is a great substitute for pounded yam.
Variation: My mum likes to buy seswaa and heat it up by sauteing aromatics (onions, garlic, peppers) and adding the seswaa to the mix to heat through. One of the best things about doing it this way is the resulting crispy pieces of beef that you end up with from frying.