TRADITION WITH A TWIST:
When you visit a foreign country you have already planned what you must do, where you must go and where you must eat. When I travel, I always try the local cuisine. In Lesotho the staple food is ‘Papa’ otherwise known as cooked Maize meal. They eat it with various items such as Maroho – fried pumpkin leaves – or Nyama, the Sesotho word for meat. What I decided to do was take ‘Papa’ and spruce it up by adding Grated parmesan Cheese, Spring Onion, crème Fraiche and coating it in herbs and Bread Crumbs. It is something that you will be complimented on every time you make it and believe me, people will be asking for more!
Makes: 4 125g Maize Cakes
- 230 g Maize meal
- 500 ml Water
- 1 teaspoon of table salt and a pinch of white or black pepper
- 2 Tablespoons chopped Spring Onion
- 2 Tablespoons Crème Fraiche
- 1 Tablespoon grated Parmesan Cheese
- Bread crumbs, enough to coat each pap cake with, flavoured with Lemon Zest, fresh Herbs and crushed Garlic.
- Place water in a pot and wait for it to boil rapidly.
- Once your water starts to boil, turn down the heat, add your salt and add the Maize meal whilst stirring all the time. It’s good to use a large wooden Spoon.
- Be careful while stirring the Maize meal, it will bubble vigorously for the first couple of minutes.
- Once the Maize becomes very thick, turn the heat on low and cover the Papa with a lid allowing it to steam for approximately 40 minutes, stirring every now and again.
- While you wait for the Maize to finish cooking, grate the Parmesan cheese and put to one side, if you’re a cheese lover, you can add 2 tablespoons of heaped parmesan cheese.
- Chop the spring Onion into thin ringlets and add to the Parmesan.
- Chop or Crush the Garlic, add it to your already chopped herbs and combine with the Bread Crumbs.
- Using a Lemon zest or Cheese grater, remove the rind of one lemon, being careful not to grate the white as well as it will cause your mixture to become bitter. If you choose to use a Lemon zester, take the strands and chop into small blocks. Add to the Breadcrumb mixture and stir to combine all ingredients thoroughly.
- Once the Papa is cooked remove it from the pot and allow it to cool down.
- Once cooled, add your Parmesan Cheese, Spring Onion, Crème Fraiche and seasoning, stir to combine ingredients.
- You can use a mould to form the Maize to the desired size and shape you would like it to be. If you do not have a mould you can make round balls the size of Tennis Balls and press flat with your hand.
- Once you have formed all the cakes, lightly brush the Pap cake with beaten egg.
- Take each Maize cake and coat it thoroughly in the Bread crumb mixture.
- Once all the Cakes have been coated, turn the deep fryer on to its highest temperature and allow the cake to turn golden brown. If you do not have a deep fryer, take some vegetable oil and heat it in a pan. Make sure that the oil reaches a quarter way up to the Maize cake and allow it to shallow fry until golden brown.
- Once brown, remove the Maize cake from the oil and place on paper towel to drain some of the last remaining oil.
- Serve hot.
If you prefer chopping everything fresh and giving all of the ingredients a good work over, try and find whole Garlic cloves that you can crush or chop yourself, if not, you can go to your local supermarket and buy already crushed Garlic.
Crème Fraiche can be hard to find so you can substitute it with Mascarpone cheese or even plain flavoured Cream cheese.
Fresh herbs such as Parsley, Basil and Coriander will compliment this Maize cake beautifully. If you struggle to find fresh herbs such as these you can use dried Herbs, just be careful that it is a soft flavoured Herb. Rosemary or Thyme may overpower the subtle flavours this Cake offers.
Seasoning is up to your very own personal taste so if you feel you might like to add a little bit more lemon zest or less salt, feel free, it is after all your next big hit around the friends!
Once you’ve mastered this Recipe you can play around with it to allow for more variety.
- You can use Polenta –Italian maize – instead of Bread crumbs.
- You can substitute the Parmesan Cheese for Camembert allowing a centre of soft gooey richness.
- You can add Sundried Tomatoes and Olives to give it a Mediterranean feel.
- You can stuff it full of small cut Vegetables giving your Vegetarian friends something unexpected.
So you see this recipe is very versatile, you can add anything your heart desires, something that really compliments the chef inside of you!
This Maize cake will go really nicely with Roast Chicken or a spicy Lamb Ragu. It will compliment Beef fillet drizzled with a Red Wine reduction and even a fresh cut of Kingklip. Offer it as a side dish when you have a Barbeque or serve it as a light meal coated in a Sauce of your choice with a small side Salad perhaps.
Maize is not the only thing that comes from corn. There are 3500 different uses for Corn products. Corn is processed and then used in things such as Baby food, Chewing Gum, Cake icing even Rust preservatives and Fireworks!
The Indian word Maiz is translated as “Sacred Mother or Giver of Life.” No wonder it is one of the three most important products in the world.
Hope you have fun with this recipe and remember to unleash the inner gourmand every time you try something new!