So you’re going on safari and will be camping out under the stars, with only a fire to cook your food? Or maybe you have a little gas stove, too? This doesn’t mean that you have to spend your safari holiday eating heated-up canned food.
Here we’ll list a couple of our favourite fireside snacks and meals. Some of them are almost gourmet!
Before You Go: Packing & Storage
The two biggest factors influencing your camping menu are space and storage. Most safari destinations are hot to super-hot, so keeping fresh food fresh is a huge logistical nightmare. We have some tricks, though, that’ll save you from getting scurvy and eating only dried/preserved/canned food.
- Plan every meal so that you don’t take anything you don’t need and, on the other hand, don’t run out of food in the middle of nowhere!
- Water, water, and more water, especially if you’re going into remote areas. Africa is hot and dry.
- Take fruit and vegetables that don’t require refrigeration: sweet potatoes, butternut, squashes, onions, apples, citrus and granadillas.
- Pack meat well, in air-tight plastic, before wrapping it in layers of newspaper and packing it tightly in a cooler box. Arrange your meat/fish in the order that you’ll use it, from top to bottom. This will minimise the time the cooler box is left open to the heat. Fill any empty spaces in the cooler box with newspaper.
- Have two cooler boxes at least – one for frozen goods, and one for cool drinks etc. This is to minimise the number of times you need to open your ‘freezer’ box.
- Remember to eat anything that begins to thaw, immediately. The last thing you want in the bush is food poisoning!
- Use blocks of ice (in sealed plastic bags) or dry ice to keep your cooler boxes cold.
- Tin foil. Be sure to take a roll of heavy-duty aluminium foil. It’s a life-saver when it comes to cooking on a fire.
Breakfast: Leftover (Spanish-type) Omelette/Frittata
Who said porridge was all you could make over a fire? And who doesn’t love an omelette for brekkie? Nobody, that’s who.
Making a leftover omelette is the perfect start to the day, and a great way to use up anything left from last night’s supper, ensuring that there’s no waste. In fact, be sure to make a couple of extra potatoes and sausages to be ready for this tasty treat.
It’s simple. Heat a pot over the fire, add a little oil and fry up an onion. Add to this whatever’s left over – chopped potatoes, sausage or steak, veggies, anything goes – and let them fry a little too. Pour over your egg and (long-life) milk mixture and leave to cook through. Don’t forget to add salt and pepper.
Voila! Full-on breakfast, made in one pot. And no leftovers to pack up before moving on to the next campsite.
Toasted sandwiches, camp-style. Bread doesn’t last well, but if the bread’s up, tortillas are a good (freezable) alternative. Depending how long you’ve been in the bush, and how your fresh supplies are looking, jaffles can be filled with any number of delicious things.
If you’re still early in the trip and have fresh cheese and tomatoes, you’re winning. Add some banana and you’ve got the medal. If you’re already a week into your trip and the cheese is finished, make tuna mayo jaffles. The combinations are endless.
Supper: Braaied Meat and Sadza
You’re in Africa, you have a fire, you must braai (barbecue). Throughout Africa, and its multitude of people and cultures, cooking meat over the fire is not only a staple meal type, but an occasion too. It is here, around the fire, that family and friends catch up on their lives.
All you need is wood, matches, and a grid. Wrap some potatoes, sweet potatoes, onion and butternut in tin foil and nestle them in the embers while you cook your chops on the grid above. Delicious.
In a heavy pot, mix up another African staple – stiff mielie meal, which goes by different names in different languages: sadza, pap, nshima, ugali, to name a few. Smother this with tomato and onion mix (easy to bring along, it’s canned) and you’ve got a meal fit for a king.
Dessert in the Desert
Slit a banana down the one side, break up blocks of dark chocolate and slot them in. Put on the fire (either on the grid, or wrapped in foil in the coals).
When the chocolate is melted, they’re ready. Eat straight out of the skin with a spoon. Droolingly delicious. And kind-of healthy too – there’s fruit in it!
They’re light, they’re easy to squash into the corner of a bag, and they’re incredible cooked over a fire.
Pop a couple on the end of a skewer, hold them over the fire, turning slowly and within minutes you have a superlatively sticky pudding with a crisp outer shell. Almost like a fondant, but not.
You’re on holiday, snacks are essential. While nuts and chips and biltong are great, it’s quite fun to cook some ‘fresher’ snacks over the fire.
In a pouch made of tin foil, place two tablespoons of popcorn kernels, some salt and a teaspoon of oil. Be sure to tightly close the pouch before tying a piece of string to one corner and shaking it over the fire. Give it a couple of minutes and you’ll have freshly-popped popcorn to go with your cold beer as you sit and watch the sun set over the African bush.
Muffins Cooked in Orange Halves
You thought muffins required baking trays and kitchens? Think again. One of the joys of living in the 21st century is instant mixes. Pack a box of instant muffin mix (we like the chocolate best) for a delicious teatime snack.
Mix up the mix (to save space, leave the box at home and just place it in a ziplock bag). If you can, get the mixes that only need you to add water. Slice some oranges in half and scoop out (and eat) the orange, leaving only the skins.
Pour mix into orange ‘shells’ and put on the fire to cook. Eat.
See? So many gourmet options when camping. Don’t forget the baked beans, though, because no camping trip is complete without at least one meal of baked beans.