World Cup Cook-off: Slovakia and Algeria

Kajka Mund. Picture: Supplied

Kajka Mund has shared a recipe from her native Slovakia. Picture: Supplied

As the world’s biggest soccer spectacle enters its final stage, so too does The Global Table’s World Cup Cook-off! We’ve cooked, baked and basted up a storm, licked our lips and at times balked  at some of the more unusual dishes encountered  over the past three months – all in our  mission to feature recipes from  every single nation playing in 2010.

And Weekend Post readers have helped every step of the way. Locals with links to participating nations from every continent came forward to  share their favourite traditional  recipes, and a slice of their lives, with us.

There are only two weekends left before the World Cup – and  our Cook-off – is over. Blogging couple Louise Liebenberg and Salvelio Meyer have tested two recipes  for today. One of these is for Algerian meatballs or Kefta – scroll down until below the Slovak recipes to check out the recipe! Algeria, of course, exited from the World Cup last Wednesday, after failing to score a single goal in the tournament and shattering its hopes of reaching the Round of 16.

Another country whose Cup dream has been dashed is Slovakia, which on Monday  lost its Round of 16 match against the Netherlands. Media reports indicate the team, while disappointed about their loss, nevertheless spoke exceptionally well of South Africa as a host country upon their return this week.

Louise has tried her hand at a rich Slovak dish known as Rezen – pork chops or steak topped with cream and cheese which are grilled until golden – while Bay resident Katja Mund, who is currently visiting family in her native Slovakia for three weeks with her two sons, Marco, 14, and Nico, 12, has also emailed us pictures and a recipe for a deliciously creamy Slovak chicken pasta dish called  Kurca na paprike s kolienkami – both recipes appear below.

Kajka says Slovakia, or Slovensko, is geographically the “heart” of Europe, as the Slovak Republic is the part of former Czechoslovakia that borders Hungary, Ukraine, Austria, Poland and the Czech Republic. “It is not Slovenia, as many people think,” she says. “My family is from Eastern Slovakia, from a town called Michalovce. From here, it takes on average just half an hour to visit Ukraine and Hungary, and 45 minutes to visit Poland.”

The Munds came to Port Elizabeth in November 2006 as Kajka’s German husband, Stephan, is an expert in automotive industry.

“We live in Summerstrand as we love to be close to the sea and Nico loves surfing,” says Kajka, a doctoral student in industrial engineering at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU). “Both our boys love PE, the sun, the sea and especially the fantastic schools.

“Our family is very international, as we have lived in Slovakia, Germany, Portugal and now in South Africa. And we all are big soccer fans that support all of these teams.”

Kajka said Nico and Marco were sad to be missing the rest of the World Cup, as they had seen the first three live matches that were played at the Port Elizabeth Stadium.

And, while disappointed to see Slovakia eliminated from the game, they were proud of the country’s very first opportunity to play in the World Cup. “We’ve been watching the matches on TV and in a Fan Park and the atmosphere has been good, both about South Africa and the World Cup.”

As much as she and the boys love Slovakia, they are excited about returning to Port Elizabeth after the final match. “It has the friendliest people and we have a lot of new South African friends who helped us settle down and feel at home,” says Kajka. The family has embraced the South African lifestyle: “We have braais with our friends and the meat here is fantastic –  including the game we get from one of our beloved friends. Then there’s the sunshine and the endless beaches for walks with our Rhodesian ridgeback, Tommy. People in PE should not complain – they don’t always ‘know’ what they have and how privileged they are to live here!”

The Munds are a sports-loving family and “all of us have found and learnt new sports in PE – surfing, cycling, swimming, yoga, cricket, hockey and waterpolo!”

Don’t miss the Global Table next weekend, when we feature the last three countries still left in our Cook-off!

And on July 17, to wrap up the project, we will share one last recipe from whichever nation is skilful and lucky enough to claim victory in  the 2010 Fifa World Cup – and at this rate, it’s anyone’s game!

Creamy Paprika Chicken Pasta (Kurca na paprike s kolienkami): The Recipe

Kajka's dish. Picture: Supplied

Kajka's creamy chicken pasta - a Slovak favourite. Picture: Supplied

Ingredients

1 kg chicken breast cut into small cubes; 3 Tbsp cooking oil; 1 onion, chopped; 250ml heavy cream; 1 Tbsp sweet paprika powder; 2 Tbsp flour to thicken the sauce; salt and freshly-ground pepper to taste; milk (optional); 500g corkscrew-shaped macaroni

Method

Heat the oil in a large saucepan; sauté the onion for 4 to 5 minutes, until golden. Add chicken and stir slightly for 3-5 minutes.

Add paprika, salt and pepper and sauté for 10 more minutes, keeping the saucepan covered.

Mix the cream with the flour (mixed to a paste with a little water); stir through properly (to reduce fat, you can replace half of the cream with milk, Kajka says).

Add the cream to the saucepan and simmer gently for 5 minutes, stirring constantly until the sauce has thickened.

Adjust the thickness with milk or milk plus flour, according your preference. Let it boil again and remove from heat, then serve hot with kolienka or corkscrew-shaped macaroni.

Pork topped with cream and grilled cheese (Rezen): The Recipe

Slovakia 003

A Slovak pork dish called Rezen, with mash and pickles on the side. Picture: Salvelio Meyer

This extremely easy traditional Slovak dish can be made with pork chops or pork steak, and is lovely this time of year, when a hearty meal can help to banish the cold. Louise served it with mash and pickles on the side.  Do choose a good-quality undyed cheddar like Simonsberg; not the suspiciously orange-dyed stuff that ends up leaving huge puddles of fat around your dish.

Serves 2-3

Ingredients

500g pork chops or pork steak (rump); salt and freshly-ground pepper; 2 – 3 Tbsp cream; 2 – 3 Tbsp grated, good-quality cheddar

Method

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Season the pork chops or steak on both sides with salt and pepper; then place them in a greased casserole dish. The meat mustn’t overlap as you want each piece to grill optimally. Top each chop or steak with grated cheese (Louise left the fatty edge slightly exposed so it could grill crisply). Pour a tablespoon or so of cream over each chop or steak. Bake in the oven, uncovered, for 35 to 45 minutes, grilling the top for the last five. Serve immediately.

World Cup Cook-off: Algeria

Algerian Kefta. Picture: Salvelio Meyer

Algerian Kefta. Picture: Salvelio Meyer

Spiced meatballs are common in one form or another from North Africa right up through the Middle East, to Greece,  Turkey, Armenia and Iran; even as far as India – and Kefta are Algeria’s version of them. The cucumber dip Louise made to serve alongside the Kefta  is another  multinational  favourite –  the Greeks will  know it as tzatziki. Algerian Kefta is  deliciously flavoured with cumin, allspice and cinnamon,  and fresh herbs like parsley and mint, while the cucumber provides a cooling touch. This recipe makes about 22 meatballs sized slightly larger than walnuts which is plenty if you’re serving it for about three people to snack on.

Ingredients

For the Kefta: 500g mince (can be beef or lamb or a combination of both); 1 shallot or smallish onion, very finely chopped; salt and black pepper; about 4 to 5 Tbsp semolina plus extra for rolling in; 1 egg, beaten; 2 tsp cumin powder; 1/2 tsp allspice; 1 tsp cinnamon; small handful each of fresh parsley and fresh mint, very finely chopped; oil for frying

For the Tzatziki: 1 large cucumber, 1/2 to 1tsp of salt, depending on the size of the cucumber; 1 cup very thick (Greek) yoghurt; 1 medium-sized clove of garlic, crushed; 1 Tbsp of freshly chopped mint, 1 Tbsp of freshly-squeezed lemon juice

Method

For the Kefta: Mix all the ingredients together well, then roll into meatballs sized slightly bigger than a walnut. Roll in some extra semolina flour, then chill in the fridge or freezer for about 20 minutes or more, to firm up. Heat the oil and fry the Kefta in batches, turning regularly until they are completely cooked through. Drain on kitchen paper, then serve with Tzatziki.

For the Tzatziki: Peel and seed the cucumber, then grate. Add salt, then pile into a colander or sieve so all the water can drain out, for about 10 minutes or more. Squeeze the rest of the liquid out with your hands. Add the yoghurt, pepper, chopped mint and lemon and mix thoroughly. Chill until serving.

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