Potjie variety to spice up Mzansi

2011-08-19 12:47

The distinctive three-legged potjie has deep roots in South African cuisine across cultures.

And in an attempt to put it on the culinary map in a more permanent way, the Food Network is hosting the inaugural National Potjie Day at Sun City, Rustenburg, on Saturday.

The American food channel might feel like an odd fit to champion traditional Mzansi food, but it dovetails with the announcement of the channel’s first show about South African food!

It is to be hosted by ­local food guru Jenny Morris.

Says Food Network’s regional head Nick Thorogood: “My first experience of potjie was when I was in South Africa for a business trip.

“We were aiming to try as many different cuisines as possible, and among the many dishes we tried was the fabulous flavours of the slow-cooked potjie. I immediately loved it and thought that it was a dish that needed celebrating.

“We loved the unique pot, the tasty flavours and aromas, and the way friends and family get together to cook it.”

The big event on Saturday is a potjie cooking competition with six teams competing to be the first to have their names engraved on the newly minted trophy.

The colourfully named teams in the running are Bubbles Bubbles Groils the Grubbles, 4 Wheels, The Potjie Clubbers, Potjielicious, Hats and Ho’s and The Shabeen Team.

The judges will include Sun City’s three executive chefs – Nicholas Froneman, Phineas Lepuru and Andrew Robertson.

Robertson was at the launch of the event to explain what the judges will be looking out for, and he made a deliciously fragrant lamb potjie to demonstrate how the experts do it.

“We are looking for seasoning, a combination of flavours as well as presentation in the pot and originality.”

His example potjie, which the guests gobbled up with gusto, ticked all the boxes – the
lamb was meltingly tender, the vegetables firm rather than disintegrating and it beckoned with
its spicy aroma and an appetising butter gloss.

Robertson went on to say that when it comes to potjie, timing
is everything.

“The length of time you cook it for is what makes a good potjie.”

Also, teams will have to have their recipes perfect because they have already had to send their
ingredient list to Robertson. So, if all they asked for was a teaspoon of salt, well, that’s what they will have to make do with on the day.

Though the event at Sun City is open to all comers, it will also be shown on the Food Network and the channel hopes – as with our National Braai Day in September – that South Africans will be
inspired to do a little one-pot cooking on the day and make National Potjie Day a regular feature.

Ultimately, says Robertson, the idea is for the day to also have a charity element and the winning team will not only win a trophy and a cash prize, but also make a contribution to a charity.

As for Thorogood, he sounds like a convert to our way of cooking: “There’s definitely more choice and options than I was expecting in South African food. I’m in South Africa this week and can’t wait
to try more food while I’m here.”

»? The National Potjie Day is on Saturday at The ­Cabanas in Sun City at 11am

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