While visiting Namibia, you might think to find a fairly traditional African diet available to eat. But if you’ve been anywhere in Africa, you know that most traditional food today has been borrowed from several countries that either traded, colonized or otherwise passed through the continent. However, Namibia provides an unexpected meeting of flavors that might surprise even the most well-traveled adventurer. Far down at the end of the southern hemisphere, Namibia is home to a distinct German influence. We’re pretty sure that falls into the category of über interesting!
The German influence is prevalent throughout all mealtimes in Namibia from breakfast to dessert and even craft beer. Game meat is often used in cooking from sausages to schnitzel. A braai is a Namibian barbecue, which are quite popular and much like your typical American barbecue except with a little more zebra and beef and a little less chicken and veggie burgers. You’re more likely to eat alligator or oryx than chicken here, but it’s definitely the tastier option too.
Along with the German influence on meats and sausages, you will also find a plentiful beer scene reminiscent of pub culture in the United Kingdom. Namibia takes great pride in its brewing mastery. It might be one of the biggest hidden gems in the southern hemisphere. Brewed in the German tradition of reinheitsgebot, the German purity law from 1516 that mandated beer only contain wheat, hops or barley, making Namibian beer unmatched in its quality. For a true brewery experience, the town of Windhoek, with a beer brand as its namesake, is where to pull up a bar stool for happy hour. All the locals certainly do.
If wild game is a bit too much, even when washed down with a cold brew, a Namibian potjiekos might be easier to stomach. Typically made with guinea fowl, chicken or lamb, a potjiekos is a one-pot stew cooked over an open fire in a cast iron pot called a potjie. Cooked on a low and constant heat with as little stirring as possible, potjiekos is a meal that is used as an excuse for social gatherings, much like barbecues. As is true within all African cultures, meals are a time to bring people together.
Traditional Namibian Potjiekos
3 lb lamb stew cubed
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 onions chopped
3 cups meat stock
1 cup red wine
1 lb small carrots
1 lb baby potatoes
1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons curry powder
1 tablespoon turmeric
½ cup milk
In a potjie pot or Dutch oven with hot oil, add the lamb, season with salt and pepper and cook on medium heat, until browned. Remove the meat and set aside.
Add the onions to the pot and sauté until soft for about 8 minutes.
Return the meat to the pot, then add enough beef stock to cover the ingredients. Turn the heat to low and simmer covered for one hour.
Add the carrots and potatoes and continue simmering for 30 minutes.
Mix the sugar, curry powder and turmeric with the milk and stir into the stew.
Bring back to boil and simmer for an additional 30 minutes.
Serve with rice or mieliepap (maize porridge).