Bogobe – also called “slap-pap” – is a Botswanan national favorite mealtime staple. The word roughly translates to “stiff porridge” and slap-pap is just that – stiff, and rather mild tasting. But it is nevertheless a remarkably tasty accompaniment to main entrees. Bogobe serves as a lighter taste and varying texture to go along with the meats, soups, stews, and vegetable dishes found in Botswana cuisine.
Its full name is “Bogobe jwa lerotse”, and it has a marvelously subtle flavor provided by the lerotse melon ingredient.
Lerotse melon appears almost identical as the common watermelon, but it has orange flesh, and is not at all sweet. Eaten raw, the taste is reminiscent of cucumber. However, when cooked, it gives the bogobe its unmistakably unique flavor.
- 2 cups bopi jwa mabele (sorghum meal)
- 1/2 lerotse (cooking melon), peeled and seeds removed, cut into 1″ cubes (Note: unless you live in Africa, lerotse may be hard to get. If so, you can substitute pumpkin and get good results, very similar to the flavor lerotse imparts to Bogobe)
- 3/4 cup madila (sour milk)
- Bring a large pot filled about 1/4 full) of water to a vigorous boil. Add in enough lerotse to fill the pot, and then cover.
- When the volume of melon reduces, add more, and continue this process until all the lerotse pieces have been added into the pot.
- Reduce the flame to a gently simmer, and cook for about half an hour, or until the lerotse can be whisked with a lehetho (traditional Botswanan wooden whisk).
- Now slowly add and stir in the bopi jwa mabele, a little at a time, and continue to whisk until all the lumps are broken down. By now, the mixture’s consistency should be nice and creamy, like that of a soft porridge. Cover the pot again and allow to continue simmering.
- If lumps occur (and they will) while stirring with your liso le le apayang (“cooking stick” – but of course you can use what you have for this in your kitchen also), add and stir in more mabele.
- Keep adding mabele and stirring until the desired consistency is achieved.
- Allow to cook for another 15 minutes of so, and then add and stir in the madila, folding it gently into the boiling mixture. Reduce the flame and simmer for another 5 minutes.
- Serve your Bogobe while nice and hot. Goes great with any Botswanan meal, and especially Seswaa.
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