RUMP STEAK AND MANGO MIX
Rump steak and a mango mix is a recipe given to me by Goodenough Khumalo many years ago and I have cooked it quite a few times for guests of mine, especially for dinner.
I met Goodenough during the mid-nineties in Zimbabwe. We were on our way to the Victoria Falls for the umpteenth time. On our way we always stopped over at a wildlife ranch near Hwange Game Reserve.
Those were the good old days when it was still very pleasant and safe to visit Zimbabwe and visitors were still keen to travel to the country. Not long after our last visit, the trouble slowly started when the mad President Robert Mugabe and his cronies started driving people off their land, killing people in the process and plundering his country which subsequently fell into utter chaos and despair.
Goodenough was a cook and houseman on a game ranch near Hwange Game Reserve in those days. A friendlier chap you couldn’t easily find. He was always smiling from ear to ear, with his white teeth shining like beacons. He also was an excellent cook.
Goodenough was not his real name, but he said that he had adopted the name when he was still young and liked it, because his mother often told him: “My son, you are good enough for me.”
Many nights I sat around the fire or in the homestead, waiting in anticipation for the meal with the magic touch. Impeccably dressed in white, he would then serve the meal, which we enjoyed to the last morsel.
I took an interest in him and his family and invariably brought them books and other gifts whenever I visited. I was always intrigued by the dishes he prepared and we really enjoyed his cooking. He was very appreciative of my interest and wanted to give me something in return.
When I left after my last visit, he presented me with a large envelope. It contained recipes written down on paper and it was clear that he must have written it himself. I did not ask for it, he just came to me and said that he had been to see a Sangoma (traditional healer). With a worried look on his face, he added that from what he had learned from the Sangoma, he did not think he would see me again, because he had a feeling that something was going to happen to him.
It was during the time of utter chaos in the years (between 2004 and 2009) that I received a message from friends that also knew Goodenough. They told me they had heard that Goodenough is no more, he had disappeared. It is believed that he died at the hands of the secret police in Zimbabwe, an innocent man in a land ruled by fear.
I miss his friendship and cooking. The gift of the few recipes transcended all language, cultural and racial barriers and was one of the kindest gestures ever experienced by me.
Here follows a mouth-watering recipe that was one of Goodenough’s favourites. He often made it especially for us and watched as we ravenously cleared our plates! Subsequently I have prepared it on many occasions for friends and it is very good, although I suppose nobody could make it like Goodenough.
Perhaps if you try it, some of Goodenough’s magic will come through in the cooking.
GOODENOUGH’S RUMP STEAK AND MANGO MIX
by Goodenough Khumalo
Depending how hungry you are, enough for about 6 persons
1 kg x Rump steak cut into square blocks (not too large and not too small)
Cooking oil – just enough
3 onions chopped
A few coriander seeds (burnt a little bit in a frying pan) then crushed
2 mangoes peeled, pitted and diced
A few sprigs of fresh thyme with the leaves on
Mango chutney two tablespoons
2 x large carrots
3 sticks of celery
3 potatoes peeled and cut into quarters
Half a cup of dry red wine
1 x large red tomato, peeled and sliced thinly
Tomato puree – 1 tablespoon
Two cloves of garlic cut into thin slivers (optional)
A teaspoon (or a little bit more) of freshly grated ginger
Water – one or two cups – you decide if you need more, or less
Parboiled long grained rice
While preparing the following, remember to start cooking the rice so that it is done when your meat dish is done.
Take your pot, casserole or flat iron pot. Place it on a plate on your stove. Pour in a little oil. While stirring with a wooden spoon, slow-fry the onion, garlic, half the celery and carrots. Take half the thyme sprigs and strip the leaves into the mix. Don’t use the stalks as well, throw them away. Add the coriander seeds. After about two minutes, add half the mangoes. Don’t let it burn. Add oil if you need to. Stir the mix a few times. When the onions start to turn golden brown take the pot off the plate. Scoop all the ingredients into bowl and keep on the side covered with a paper towel. Let it cool down.
Take the same pot that the ingredients were fried in (don’t wash it), just add a little oil and place it on the oven plate at high temperature. Fry the rump steak quickly, while stirring with a wooden spoon. When the rump steak starts to turn light brown, add the potatoes, ginger, the rest of the mangoes and the rest of the basil, thyme and celery. Stir the mix and don’t let it burn. Then add enough water to nearly cover everything. Bring to the boil and then slowly let it simmer for about 25 minutes.
Take the pot and place it in your oven at a very low temperature of about 120 degrees Celsius. Before placing the lid on, just check if there is enough water in to prevent it from burning. If need be add a little bit of water water. Cover with the lid.
Let it cook slowly in the oven for about one hour. Check sporadically if there is enough water in to prevent it from burning. After an hour take the pot out and add the tomato and all the ingredients which were previously fried and are now waiting in the bowl on the side. Add the wine. Add some crushed pepper and salt to taste. Lastly add the tomato puree and mango chutney. Stir everything once or twice to mix it.
Return the covered pot with all the ingredients to the oven for about another half an hour. Sporadically check that there is enough moisture in to prevent burning. Remember throughout the preparation that when the dish is done, there should not be too much or too little sauce in the pot, therefore your judgement of when to add some more water is crucial. The sauce should not be too watery. If it is, then add a little flour to thicken it. Just don’t let it burn.
Take the pot out and serve with the parboiled long grained white rice.
If you have done everything correctly, watched everything carefully and used common sense, I am sure that some of the magic of Goodenough might have found its way into the dish. If not then just try it another time until you get it right. The end result is well worth the effort and you will also savour and enjoy it until the last morsel.
It is best with a good bottle of red wine, preferably a Merlot.
Lastly, when your belly is full, please spare a thought for Goodenough Khumalo.
Johan vd Walt
Wildlife South Africa