When Meeta from What's for Lunch Honey announced the Monthly Mingle's theme for May, I know quite a few South African foodies were very excited to share our unique cuisine with the rest of the world. I was no exception. Enthusiasm - check. The choice of what to make that would best showcase our diverse country was a bit more difficult.
South African cuisine is a melting pot of different cultural influences - among them Malay (as is evident in something like Bobotie), Indian (see the many curries of Natal), British, French and Dutch. Of course there is also quite a big influence from the indiginous tribes - Xhosa and Zulu being only two of many. The Putu Pap I shared last week is an example of that influence and forms part of the staple diet of quite a large portion of the population.. South African food tends to be unfussy with a strong emphasis on home and comfort cooking - just take a look at our wide range of stews, or bredies (say: brrea-dees) as they are known here.
Having said all that, it wasn't possible to choose only one dish to represent the entire country. Instead I decided to focus on some of our unique ingredients to add a South African twist to a global favourite - pizza. From greasy takeaways to lovingly home prepared bases to the many gourmet options, there is hardly a soul on this planet who doesn't enjoy pizza. And this pizza, I am sure will be no exception.
My L'Africana pizza is salty from the biltong - arguably South Africa's favourite snack -, sweet and spicy from the peppadews (sweet piquante peppers) with added crunch and flavour from the sweetcorn kernels. In a way it represents the attitudes and mindset of our people - feisty like the peppadews, a little bit eccentric like the biltong (It's dried raw meat -you've got to admit that's a little bit weird), but underneath it all we've got a heart of gold like the corn. Proudly South African!
I'm submitting this to the Monthly Mingle - South Africa created by the fabulous Meeta from What's For Lunch Honey.
Makes 8 slices
1/2 pizza base recipe1 tbsp oil1 small onion, sliced into rings2 tbsp sun dried tomato pesto (or tomato paste)150g (1 1/2 cups) grated mozzarella2/3 corn on the cob7 peppadews*, cut in half30g (approx 2 handfuls) sliced beef biltongsalt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste.
1. Prepare dough for base, letting rest for 30 - 45 minutes to double in size. Also pre-heat oven to 220C.2. Meanwhile, heat oil in a small frying pan and saute onion over medium-low heat until soft.3. Roll dough out thinly, transfer to an oiled baking tray (or pizza stone if you're lucky) and spread with tomato pesto or paste.4. Sprinkle with rouighly one cup of the mozzarella, then add the toppings: onion, corn, peppadews and biltong.5. Add the remainder of the cheese and sprinkle lightly with salt and ground black pepper.6. Place pizza in the oven and bake for 10 - 12 minutes until base is cooked through and cheese melted.
* Peppadews are a South African product, grown in the northern parts of the country. The taste is a mix of sweet, spicy and sour (as they are normally sold pickled). Peppadews can be ordered online for delivery to a select few countries (including the USA and the UK).
** You should be able to find biltong (dried, cured meat) at any South African deli or butchery worth their salt.