Friday, February 17, 2012

Making Mealie Bread with Make (ma-gay = host mom)

February 5th, 2012

I just discovered the best gluten free food to ever come out of Swaziland… Mealie Bread.

This excellent bread can be made without flour and it’s amazing.  I helped my Make make it tonight and I swear I could eat an entire field of mealie bread.  Here are the ingredients:

Fresh Mealies (aka fresh maize cut off the cob)
Baking powder
Butter
Sugar
Pinch of salt
Fresh milk (straight from the cow if available)

First you pick some fresh maize and peel them preserving the leaves from the husk.  Then you cut off the kernels from the cob, saving the cob (this really is a no waste cooking project).  We did this basking in the cooler breeze that dusk brings in.  We sat outside and worked as the chicken corralled around our feet eating every bit of maize we dropped.  The only problem with this is that my white toes look very similar to maize kernels and the chickens couldn’t tell the difference…ouch.

Once we cut the kernels off we prepared the pot that the bread gets cooked in.  I guess we kind of make an oven.  You take the classic three legged pot and put a little bit of water in it and set it over the fire.  Then you take the maize cobs and stack them on the bottom of the pot to create a shelf so the bread wont touch the water and then you let the water boil.

Meanwhile we ground the mealies up in a hand grinder.  While I held the bowl to catch he grinds I complimented my Make at her ability to so quickly use the hand grinder.  She just laughed and said this was not hard.  She used to spend all day grinding the kernels by hand with a rock and then would have to walk to the river to fetch water after.  That was hard work, today she says no one likes to work, they are lazy because nothing takes that much effort to do anymore.  I guess Americans developed for a reason, so we had more time to go to school and/or to work at a job that earns us money.  Here there are no jobs to get unless you go to University and Uni is almost impossible to get into so what really is the point of development?  In the case of mealie bread the point is that we didn’t have to start making it at noon, but rather could start at 6pm and be done by the time Generations starts (very popular evening soap opera here).

Ok back to baking.  After grinding the mealies you add the other ingredients, mix, and then scoop the dough into the leaves from the husks.  The dough gets wrapped up in the leaves and then they get placed in the pot on the cob shelf and covered.  Let them bake for 45 minutes and then take them out of the pot, let cool, and peel out of the leaves and eat!

It’s so amazing, taste just like corn bread!  Kumnandzi Kakhulu!!  (Very delicious).

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