Namibia: Braai and Beer Bread

When I researched Namibia’s cuisine I learned 2 major things that stuck with me. 1. Braais are impartant staples of the Namibian food culture and 2. Beer is massive in Namibia, not only is it consumed but they brew it and brew it very well.

They stick to the reinheitsgebot, a German purity law from 1518 left over from the German colonialism, that states that beer must only contain water, barley and hops- they stick to this now not because of law but because of principal. So unsurprising beer bread is also widely popular and very delicious!

Beer and Cheese Bread

The original recipe is from a great website called GreatNamibianFoodProject.com you can find the recipe here.

INGREDIENTS

  • 500 grams self raising flour
  • 500 milliliters lager beer or 2 1/4 cups
  • 250 grams mature cheddar cheese (grated)
  • 1-2 teaspoons fresh thyme (chopped)
  • 1 teaspoon salt

DIRECTIONS

  • Preheat oven to 180℃ or 350℉
  • Mix all the ingredients together in a mixing bowl and shape into a large round loaf on a baking sheet or stone.
  • Bake for 35-45 minutes until the bread sounds hollow when you tap the bottom.
  • Let it cool completely before cutting.

Notes:

  • When Martin and I made ours, I baked it at 350℉ and it was not cooked at the end of 50 minutes so I increased the oven to 400℉ and baked it for another 15 minutes.
  • This is an excellent recipe for young chefs, its an all in one and hard to mess up as long as you keep things moving. Martin did just about everything outside of putting it in and out of the oven.

Braai

Braai does not mean BBQ in the American sense but rather getting together and eating food cooked over a fire- it’s community, it’s an experience. Typically a braai involves game meat, I don’t have access to game at my local grocery store so I used beef. This is a go to meal of mine and if the weather permitted it I would have opted for the grill. So to make this more of a Namibian experience, and you are able cook this all outside over a fire or hot coals, go for it!

Steak

  • One sirloin per serving
  • Butter
  • Bacon fat or oil
  • Fresh thyme
  • Salt and pepper

Method

Heat your cast iron skillet over medium high heat and add 1-2 Tbs of butter and 1 Tbs of bacon fat or cooking oil. Salt and pepper the steaks on both sides, then once the butter is melted and the pan is hot, place the steaks in the pan and leave them alone for 3 minutes- fight the urge and do not move them around. After 3 minutes, flip them and cook for another 3 minutes. This next part depends on the thickness of your steaks, pick the thickest one and check the internal temperature with the meat thermometer. The goal is based on preference:

  • 125 F= rare
  • 135 F= medium rare
  • 145 F= medium
  • 150 F= medium well
  • 160 F= well done

I prefer the 135-140 range when I’m cooking at home. If the steak is not done to your liking you can put it in a 350 F oven for 5 minutes or add more butter, and repeat the process- cook for 3, flip, cook for 3 and check the temperature.

Once the preferred temp is reached remove the steaks from the pan and cover with tin foil to rest for 5-10 minutes.

Green Beans

  • Frozen green beans
  • Garlic infused olive oil
  • Salt

Steam the green beans in the microwave as per the brands instructions. Once cooked toss in a 1 Tbs of garlic olive oil and salt to taste. You can also toss the beans in olive oil and 1 clove of garlic minced.

Mushrooms

  • Fresh mushrooms sliced
  • 1 Tbs Butter
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Melt the butter in a pan over medium high heat, add the mushrooms and salt. Stir and flip occasionally as the mushrooms cook, be patient adjust the heat as needed and keep checking them. The goal is golden brown and delicious 🙂

Gather Together

To make this meal an official braai you need to come together to eat and enjoy. Since we are still in a COVID world, our party was only our small family of 4, but we still came together and ate together. Community is key with a braai, so I’m hoping to do one again when we can cook outside and enjoy a good beer with friends.

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