Silence of the lambs
When the challenge was given to us at work to create a meal for only a R100 I was leaning towards the idea of making something simple that will stretch over two or three people but Im the type of person that out of habit goes to my parents for advice and they gave me a completely different idea. They suggested that I make a traditional meal with a twist so after digging through all the old family recipe books we finally found the meal that would suit this challenge; I decided to make sheep tongue.
Everyones first reaction to this meal is What? but in Cape Town and especially in the Cape Malay culture a meal like this is well known and prepared on a day called Eid, a special day of celebration. So while incorporating my religious background with the uniqueness of my meal I started to prepare. I decided to complement the sheep tongue by making sweet yellow rice, sweet carrots and boiled squash with whole cornel.
It was easy enough to find the rice, carrots, squash and whole cornel at one of the big convenience stores but when shopping for the sheeps tongue it was a different story! Since there are various halaal butcheries in and around my suburb I was able to source the meat without too much difficulty. After comparing quality and price, I finally had all my ingredients and was ready to prepare this meal as a Sunday lunch.
Early Sunday morning I began. With tongue, I was always taught that it had to be cooked just right and just long enough for the meat to be perfectly tender. I started off by cleaning and then seasoning the meat with salt and pepper, and into the steam pot it went. After steaming for about an hour and a half I took it out and put it straight into the frying pan that already had olive oil, all spice, bay leaves and cloves simmering. The meat had to be slowly fried over a low heat until golden brown, turning it over every 10minutes allowing the seasoning to cook into the meat and giving it the desired taste. Once the meat had slowly started frying I could prepare the rest of the meal. The first thing that I had to do was put a pot of water on a high heat with two cups of rice. I then added the salt, a few pieces of stick cinnamon and cardamom pods and a half teaspoon of borrie, also known as Tumeric, which gives us that lovely yellow colour in the rice. Next I had to peel and chop my carrots and place them in a small pot with half a cup of water and a full cup of sugar to get carrots really sweet and sticky. Finally, I cut the squash in half, which is not an easy job, and dig out the middle with a tablespoon, placing the halves into a pot of salted boiling water. Once my rice was finished boiling I strained it and placed it in a bowl, blotting butter and sprinkling sugar over the top to add some sweetness and placed it in the microwave for 10minutes so the sugar could soak through the rice and the rest of the water can be drawn out. Next, it was time to remove the now softened squash from the water. To add a bit more flavour, I added a half a teaspoon of butter in the squash and then spooned a heap of whole cornel inside. It is optional to warm the whole cornel before placing it in the squash.
Once everything was ready I placed it on a platter and offered it to the critics, which included my dad, my older sister and my grandmother. I was a bit nervous to hear the comments that were about to be made as this was my first time making this meal and Im happy to report I only got one negative remark, Not enough salt on the tongue. For a first time attempt at this meal I was glad to only get one negative observation with all the other feedback being positive.
It was a great and fun experience undertaking this challenge. I learnt that many unique meals can be made with just R100; its possible to achieve a full pot of food which can feed an entire family if you just buy the right ingredients.