Memories of Chicken Pap and Cabbage
September 19, 2012 in Chicken
In the early 90’s I worked at what was then called Jan Smuts Airport, now OR Tambo International Airport. Money was little, and food at any airport restaurant is never cheap, and at 20, cooking for myself was not really what I did for fun in the evenings, so when I heard about this woman that also worked on the airport that had a little sideline business in the basement where she sold a plate of pap, cabbage and chicken for R2.00 I was a bit more than mildly interested.
There was one problem however, I grew up in the Cape, we don’t really eat pap, but I argued that I have just survive 2 years of army food, so I should be able to survive pap, even if it was cooked in the parking garage basement of an airport. The chicken was cooked, with salt and pepper and not much more, it had no color, but it was not bad, if you mixed the cabbage, pap and chicken together with the spoon or two of the chicken stock that was poured over the pap and you remembered that it only cost R2.00 you had a good meal, better that a couple of meals I had in the Army that started out with a lot better ingredients in any case.
I only realized later how big a part cabbage play in a lot of households in South Africa, together with pap if forms the staple of many a household. This fact I learned when I read and article a couple of years ago about the price of cabbage, and how the price went up 100% from 50c to R1.00 for a head of cabbage. At first I thought, yes that’s 100%, but it is only 50c, but as I continued reading the article I came to the realization of how many people only have a 50c or a rand to buy food, and that an increase like that cut their buying power in half, it was then that I thought about that plate of cabbage, pap and chicken again, and realized how that plate of food resembled a plate of food fit for a king in the eyes of many people in the world.
I decided to use these 3 basic ingredients to cook a meal in honor of the woman that fed me for R2.00 so many times in that first year after the army.
Chicken with mealy pap and cabbage cakes with a parmesan crust.
1 cup maize meal
2 cups water
1 tsp salt
Bring the water with the tsp of salt to the boil. Add the maize meal and mix well with the water. Reduce the heat to low and let it steam for 30 minutes, stirring it every now and then.
2 Onions chopped
1 Head cabbage chopped
Cook the cabbage and onions with salt and lots of pepper in a little water until soft, drain all excess water.
Mixed the pap and cabbage together, add the cabbage bit by bit, making sure the pap does not become to wet, you must be able to form a cake with the mixture that will not fall apart when you bake it in a little oil.
Let the mixture cool down.
Mealy pap cakes:
Mealy pap and cabbage mixture
Grated parmesan cheese
A little oil for frying.
Mix the parmesan and crumbs together.
Form balls slightly smaller than tennis balls with the mealy pap and cabbage mixture, roll it in the parmesan and crumbs mixture and flatten then to about 1cm thick.
Heat oil in a pan and fry the cakes to golden brown on both sides, drain cakes on kitchen paper.
Fry some chicken pieces according to your favorite method and serve it together with the cakes.