So I’ve got a story with this one so let’s get this out of the way up front if you’re not into that, I’ll be making a prep of seswaa and pap based on Botswana Youth’s recipe.
Seswaa is a dish served at most major events in Botswana – weddings, funerals, births, birthdays, and so on. It’s a dish deeply steeped in tradition.
When I started researching Botswana cuisine I got word from my family that my grandmother was imminently passing. She’d been sick for an extended period and in the previous few weeks things had taken a turn for the worse so this news was not unexpected but it was still complicated; my grandfather passed on Christmas Eve in 2017 and Grandma was never really okay again afterward but losing a loved one always sucks even when it’s an end to physical and emotional suffering for them.
This recipe really spoke to me on a core level, it’s a deceptively simple dish that requires heart and care in prep but is immediately comforting.
My grandmother passed early Monday morning. My car is looking at somewhere between $450 and $4500 in repairs. My phone is 5 generations behind and has about a 2 hour battery life. My shed is infested with black widow spiders. It’s been a hell of a week. I sat at my desk at work with my tupperware of reheated seswaa and pap and something about it just felt good when everything else felt like garbage.
You’ll need a slow cooker or dutch oven for this prep
LET’S DO THIS (seswaa):
- 2-3 pounds of bone-in beef (I used beef rib and got closer to 3 pounds to account for the heavy bone weight)
- 1 onion, ends trimmed and outer later peeled
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 5 bay leaves
- 1 cup beef stock and additional water
- ground pepper to taste
LET’S DO THIS (pap)
- 1.5 cups white cornmeal
- 2.5 cups water
- 1 cup reserved liquid from the beef prep
- 2 tsp salt
- 3 tablespoons butter
Prep is pretty quick (16:00 to 16:15), but your time may vary.
Here’s what you’re going to do:
- Salt and pepper the beef. Place the beef, onion, and bay leaves in the crock pot with the beef stock, then fill with water to cover the meat.
- Cook on high for 4-6 hours, until the meat is falling off of the bone.
- Remove the meat from the pot and into a bowl.
- While the meat is cooling slightly, prepare the pap.
- Bring the water, beef prep liquid, and salt to a boil.
- Reduce heat to medium low and stir in the cornmeal. Once whisked in completely, cover and reduce heat to low.
- Make sure you keep stirring the pap ever few minutes. While the pap is cooking (about 25-30 minutes), shred the beef and onion using forks or meat shredders (traditionally the beef is ground with a mortar and pestle).
- Remove the pap from heat, stir in the butter. Let sit for 5-10 minutes to stiffen, then dish up with the beef.
- That’s it! If you portion out and reheat the pap will solidify but is still delicious.