Friday, August 26, 2011

I have contributed to the Swazi PCV Newsletter

I have been asked to make a contribution to the Swaziland Peace Corps Volunteer Newsletter, the SoJo. And since I have actually put something together I figured that I could also put it up here, for you all. It does, however, contain the recipe for emafethi again. In case you haven't tried to make them yet, this recipe is a little more detailed with the experience that I have had making them since I last posted it.

Waiting for emafethi. The addiction continues.

For those of you in Group 9 who know me, you also know that I have an addiction to emafethi. Well, being at site has not caused my sweet craving to wane at all. This started back home when I was in charge of running a seminar series for a bunch of grad students. For those of you who have been students, you know that the best way to persuade them to attend anything is to have food. I chose to have doughnuts and coffee at my seminars. They were every week. Of course that meant that I had at least one donut a week, and sometimes I had to go into the store (they were delivered for the seminar) to work out logistics, or to get lunch or something. Anyhow, it had been about two weeks since I had last indulged in an emafethi and about four days that we had been at site. Needless to say, I thought I was dying.

Mia and I planned to go to Buhleni, our shopping town a few days after we had arrived at site to buy the standard household things, as I’m sure most of the other G9ers did. It was an incredibly hot day around 1pm and we had just sat through about three hours of our fist Umphakathzi meeting under the big fig tree. Standing by the side of the road Mia called her Sisi, who had previously mentioned that she would like to go with us to town, to let her know that we were ready to go and could meet her there. She told Mia that it was too hot and she would come ‘pick us’. So we waited, mostly thankful for the ride. We got in the car and found out that Sisi actually had other plans for the day, the first of which was to go home for lunch. This was fine, no big deal, lunch and then a ride to town. Another three hours later we asked Sisi if she was ready to go to the store yet. She was, so we all piled in the car. When I say all, I mean all, including Gogo and Sisi (another one) who we had to drop off at home really quick before going to town. Ok. In the car, hot, windows down, on a dirt road forever, seriously about an hour!! Finally we got to Mhlume, and my Dramamine kicked in. Great. Luckily it only took about 45 minutes to drop off Gogo and Sisi, then we were back on the road. Sisi said that we would stop at a store on the way back, after she showed us off to some more of her friends in Tshaneni. By the time we actually got to the store it only had a few more minutes of being open. Luckily they let us in and we got to do some shopping, even if we didn’t get to explore our shopping town with a local guide. On the way back we had a nice leisurely drive passing sugar cane fields, monkeys sitting next to the road eating the sugar cane watching cars drive by, and a gorgeous sunset. Quickly, I called my Make to let her know that I was with Buhle and her sister, I was ok and I was going to be home late, not to worry. This was quite an adventure in itself, and then the icing on the cake, or the dough in the oil. We did stop in Buhleni, at one store, for one thing, emafethi. It was heavenly, I mean really. Mine didn’t even make it to the car and I was debating if I had time to run in and get another before Sisi drove off without me.

A few days later Mia and I decided to actually go to Buhleni to get a look around and pick up a few things. I had not had an emafethi since that day with Sisi. Little did Mia know that this adventure was going to turn into a hunt (or long wait) for the fat cakes.
The first place we went to in town was the emafethi place, it’s past the gas station, near the shebeen in Buhleni (stop by if you ever get a chance, note the timing). They said that the emafethi would be ready at about 1 pm (who makes emafethi in the afternoon anyway?!). It was about 9 am. Could Mia and I use up 4 hours in the small town of Buhleni? Two tables, a few brooms and mops, and groceries galore later Mia and I walked back in to the sitolo. Were the fat cakes, by any chance, ready early today?  About 11 am. No. So we decided that we couldn’t wait until 1 pm to eat and headed back out to He Provides Restaurant, previously Twinkle, for PCV famous fried chicken. It was delicious, but by the time we got done it was only 11:45 am. We were so hungry we both wolfed our food down. We went back to the sitolo, were they ready yet? No, one hour. Ok, so we went back to the woodcraftsman to figure out possible transport for the tables. 12:00. Not yet, but we didn’t have anything else to do. So, I asked Mia if she would mind waiting just 45 minutes sitting in the sitolo for the emafethi. She said no. That was her mistake, because the emafethi weren’t ready until around 2:30 pm. Every single person who walked in that sitolo sat down to talk to us about where we were from, how long had we been in Swaziland? what were we doing here? when were we leaving? could they come back with us? even if it was in a suitcase? where do you stay? no, really, where do you stay? what’s your real name? On and on. Then finally, after truly earning it, and making a few friends in the meantime, the emafethi were ready!! And oh were they amazing. I got 8, that’s right 8. I ate 2 on the way home, one when I got home, I gave 2 to Make (who also LOVES emafethi) and ate another one with her.  The rest just had to wait for tomorrow, because I was full. Oh, emafethi. Unfortunately, I have a recipe for them. 

So, as a reward for suffering through this story, below is my recipe for how to make emafethi. A little warning though, with this recipe they are quite a bit fluffier and more cake like. To make them more doughy and dense do not use self-rising flour and knead for longer. What’s next for the emafethi? Chocolate emafethi anyone?

Emafethi – using 2 cups of flour yields about 16, 1.5” (in diameter) emafethi.

2 cups of self-rising flour.
2 tablespoons of oil.
½ (about) teaspoon of salt
½ (about) teaspoon of active yeast
4 heaping tablespoons of sugar

To make a bigger batch use 3 cups of flour 3 tablespoons of oil and 6 cups of sugar and increase the amount of salt and yeast only slightly, or follow ratios accordingly.

Mix all of the above ingredients together and stir thoroughly, until well integrated (haha, get it?). Then slowly add water to the mixture and keep stirring. I add water about a half cup at a time. You want the dough to be a little thinner that pizza dough, but not runny. Just so it sticks to itself rather than the sides of the bowl. Then I take the spoon out, put it in a cup of the remaining water, put a towel over the bowl to let the dough rise a bit.

While the dough is rising pour about an inch and a half of oil in a pot. If you use a bigger pot it takes more oil, but is slower to over heat. Vice versa if you use a small pot, it takes less oil but the oil can become too hot quickly if you are doing a big batch. If I am using 2 cups of flour I use a small pot (about 3 rounds of frying), if I am making any more than that I use a big pot. Heat the oil. The oil is ready when you sprinkle water from your fingers in the pot and it sizzles as soon as it hits the oil, not when it hits the bottom of the pan. Then take your spoon out of the cup of water and one at a time, by the spoonful, drop your emafethi dough balls into the oil. If the dough starts sticking to the spoon dip it back in the cup of water. The emafethi may stick to the bottom of the pan, so be ready with a pancake turner if they do. The dough will need to be rolled at least once while in the oil, cooking to perfection. They are ready when they are just golden brown. If the emafethi start coming out raw in the middle and burnt on the outside, your oil is too hot. Take the poor dough balls out. Let your oil cool and try again.

Good Luck!

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