I’m so excited for Christmas; I’m literally counting down the days, hours and minutes until that joyous morning, when everyone will wake up with happiness and cheer and shout “Merry Christmas” at the top of their lungs. Running down the stairs excited to see what Santa has brought them…but is that what Christmas is really about? Is it not about family, friends, love, happiness, togetherness, good health, faith and blessings and of course good food?
I sat at my desk trying to relate my Christmas to a traditional Zambian Christmas and I realised that I can’t. In all my years I never saw how different Zambian culture is to Western culture, having grown up with a “unique” blend of both, I didn’t quite notice that I had lost touch with Zambian culture (to a certain extent); and it was only at a time like this – Christmas, that it became so obvious. My last Christmas in Zambia was when I was 5 years old, so I have no idea what we ate and I was probably more focused on the presents than the food. So there I was ready to write about; a lovely roasted Turkey and stuffing, minted Lamb joint, with roasted potatoes, gravy, Mac ‘n’ cheese and cranberry sauce topped off with a glass of vino or bubbly; when it hit me….”Do Zambians in Zambia, actually eat this for Christmas…how will they relate or even try this if they don’t eat it?” So I panicked, torn between whether to inspire you with my version of Christmas, or yours. Then I conducted a Google search, which really wasn’t helpful. So I finally collected some market research asking my Zambian acquaintances and relatives – “What do Zambians actually eat for Christmas?” The general consensus was that the average Zambian Christmas meal consists of; chicken, rice, salad, and is very similar to the type of food you might find at a party, though each household varies slightly.
So today’s Christmas meal is A Whole roasted chicken with a classic potato salad
Preparation and cooking time: 2 hours
Serves: 4-8 people
For the Chicken
- 1 whole chicken
- 1 whole bulb (head) of garlic, which contains about 6-12 cloves of garlic
- 2 large onions, largely sliced
- Salt, preferably sea salt
- Ground black pepper
- 2 tbsps Paprika
- 2 tsp Thyme (optional)
- 2 large carrots
- Olive oil, vegetable oil, or sunflower oil
For the potato salad
- 5 large potatoes – peeled, chopped and boiled
- 3 eggs – boiled
- ¼ cup of mayonnaise
- Black pepper
- 1 tsp Paprika
- ½ an onion, chopped
First cook your chicken. Preheat your oven to 240°C. Leave the carrots unpeeled– just wash them and roughly chop them. Peel your onion and break the garlic bulb into cloves and peel them.
Put the carrots, onions and garlic into the middle of a large roasting tray and drizzle with oil; drizzle the chicken with oil and season well with salt, pepper, paprika and thyme; rubbing it all over the chicken. Place the chicken on top of the vegetables on the roasting tray and put it into the preheated oven. Turn the heat down to 200°Cand cook the chicken for about 1 hour 20 minutes. If you’re doing roast potatoes and veggies, prepare them and get them into the oven for the last 45 minutes of cooking.
Halfway through cooking, use a tablespoon to pour the fat and juices from the chicken over the chicken and veggies, add a splash of water to the tray to stop them burning. When cooked, take the tray out of the oven and transfer the chicken to a serving dish, make your gravy from the chicken juices.
Whilst the chicken is cooking, prepare your potato salad. Boil a large pot of salted water. Peel and chop your potatoes then add them and cook for about 15 minutes, until tender but still firm. Drain and cool them. Place the eggs in a saucepan and cover them with cold water. Boil them for about 10 – 12 minutes. Remove them from the heat, drain the hot water and cool, peel and chop them. In a large bowl, combine the potatoes, eggs, onion, salt, pepper, paprika and mayonnaise. Mix together well and refrigerate until chilled
Carve your chicken by removing any string from it; carefully cut through the joints and pulling the wings and legs off. Cut according to the number of portions needed.
For your potato salad, you can actually add more veggies; try adding some peas, carrots and even tomato for extra colour and flavour.
Serve your chicken with your delicious potato salad, and of course this goes perfectly with roasted potatoes and rice.
To have it with nshima simply forgo the carrots but roast the chicken as instructed.
Kanta Temba is a cake maker and decorator. She is also the owner and founder of Kanta Kakes – cake shop.
You can find her work on www.kantakakes.com. Follow her on twitter @KantaKakes and Instagram @KantaTemba.