The Mountain Kingdom…
It is probably true that my 2nd choice is one of the more unknown and obscure countries in the world. It could be that Lesotho is a country which is entirely surrounded by another country (South Africa), otherwise known as an enclave; (there are only three such enclaves in the world). Or it might just be that the country’s two million inhabitants all live at least 1,000 meters above sea-level (Making it the only such country on Earth).
The Kingdom of Lesotho is one of the smallest countries by size (140th to be exact.) Once a colony of the United Kingdom, Lesotho gained its independence in 1966. That is when they adopted their official motto; “Khotso Pula Nata”, which translates into Peace, Rain, Prosperity. Although there are many who live below the poverty line, Lesotho surprisingly has one of the highest literacy rates in the whole of Africa at 82%.
But there is something a bit more enchanting and admirable about the Lesothan people. Perhaps it is their ability to speak so proudly and admirably about their own nation….as you can see below.
This is our 2nd recipe, and since we had such a filling meal with the Afghan Palao, it was a perfect change of pace. The Lesothan Chakalaka is a vegetarian stew using very few ingredients. It is traditionally served over rice or pap (polenta). We will be serving it over pap in this recipe. A Warning: this recipe is fairly spicy depending on the type of chillies you use. This turned out to be surprisingly tasty and a great addition to my recipe collection.
Lesothan Chakalaka: Serves 2-3
1 red bell pepper, finely chopped
2 tomatoes, finely chopped
1 onion, finely chopped
2 hot red chillies, finely chopped
1 carrot, finely chopped
2 Tbsp Cooking Oil
salt & pepper
Pap: Serves 2-3
300 g maize meal or polenta
300 ml water
Method: 25-30 Minutes (Total Cooking Time)
The first thing you need to do is to measure out the 300ml of water into a medium pot and bring to a boil. While you wait for it to boil, Weigh out 300g of polenta. (you can use cornmeal if you don’t have polenta). If you dont have access to a kitchen scale, 300g is a little less than 2 cups.
Once the water is boiling, pour in the polenta and quickly give it a stir to mix it through. It will be a very dry, crumbly texture. Turn the heat all the way down to low, and put the lid on. You are going to let this simmer for 25 minutes, stirring every 4-5 minutes so that it doesn’t burn the pap.
Next, chop the vegetables. make sure to remember to stir the pap every few minutes. At the halfway point, I added about 1/4 cup of warm water, but the original recipe did not call for it.
Throw the carrot into a frying pan with about 2 Tbsp of oil. Fry this for about 4-6 minutes.
Once the carrots are cooked, throw in the rest of the vegetables except for the tomatoes. Fry these vegetables for about 5 more minutes. While this is cooking, you can add salt and pepper to both the chakalaka and pap (to taste).
Last, add the 2 chopped tomatoes to the pan, and cook this mixture until the tomatoes mush and form a type of sauce.
Lastly, dish out the pap on to plates, and then cover with the chakalaka. Your dish is ready to serve.
If you watched the short video I shared at the top, you might have seen some of the interesting dancing…if you wanted to watch another, more in-depth dance/song…check out THIS VIDEO.
But my favorite thing to enjoy is this great video featuring pictures of the country accompanied by the Lesotho National Anthem. (don’t worry it’s only 1 minute long)
Both recipes were found on this website.
There are a few other things that I wanted to try, but just didn’t have the right ingredients or the time. The banana souffle was one that I may have to come back to one of these days.