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Johan Badenhorst of Voetspore fame is well known for many reasons. He’s an explorer, adventurer, writer, film maker, TV personality, musical producer and an authority on overlanding. Cooking could easily be added to the list. When we visited him in Pretoria, Johan decided to share a taste of Senegal with us.

Text: Leilani Basson

Photography: Jannie Herbst

Johan and Alma Badenhorst’s house in Mooikloof, Pretoria, mirrors their wanderlust. There are tablecloths, mats and décor from all over the continent – pieces with a distinct African feel. The entertainment area on the patio is no different. The African faces that Alma has painted demand eye contact.

And the wine cellar is stocked with intriguing bottles – some full, some empty. “We finished our last Voetspore expedition – Aghulas to Alexandria – in December,” says Johan says. “We are still editing the series, and working on theme music.” Their next trip is planned for 2013. One series of Voetspore takes about three months to plan, three months to execute and six months to edit. Johan has done seven Voetspore series in the past 11 years, and covered 140 000km through Africa.

In the early years they took food from home, but they have now learned to eat the local food wherever they are, which in itself is a never-ending adventure. “On our previous trip, Casablanca to the Cape, we put a cookbook cum diary cum travelogue together.

The book, published by Protea, includes many of the wonderful recipes we came across on our travels, and tried wherever we found ourselves.” One of Johan’s favourites is Senegalese chicken – a safe, tasty, albeit bland looking dish, that is easy to prepare, anywhere, anytime.

The chickens in central Africa apparently tend to be a lot tastier than the chicken we find here at home. The meat is tougher, though, but there is nothing that some extra time in a lemon bath can’t fix. “On these trips, we survive on chicken and fish that is readily available, and mostly fresh,” says Johan. “Senegal is onion and olive country, so most of their dishes contain heaps and heaps of onion.” As they say, in Africa, you do as the Africans do.

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Poulet Yassa (aka Senegalese Chicken)

What you need

  • 2 whole chickens, cut into pieces
  • 4 to 6 onions – chopped
  • 1 to 3 hot chillies – chopped
  • Juice of 4 to 5 lemons
  • 2 tbs Dijon mustard
  • 100ml peanut oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 tbs cooking oil

What you do

Mix all the ingredients, except the cooking oil, together in a large pot and marinade for about four hours. Take out the chicken pieces, dry with paper towels and fry in the oil until brown. Take out of the pot. Sauté the onions in the pot for about 10 minutes. Add the rest of the marinade and chicken to the onion in the pot. Lower the heat and cook for about 30 minutes. Serve with rice or couscous.

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Potbread with olives

  • What you need
  • 500g white bread flour
  • 500g nutty wheat
  • 10ml sugar 5ml salt
  • 1 packet of instant yeast
  • 15ml oil
  • 500ml lukewarm water
  • Handful of pitted, chopped olives
  • 1 hump of butter to grease the cast iron pot

What you do

Mix all the dry ingredients together. Reserve a bit of flour to add later, in case the dough is too soft. It also helps to get the dough off your hands easily. Add just enough water to the flour to make dough that is easy to handle. Add the chopped olives and knead the dough until it is soft, elastic and doesn’t stick to the hands. Grease the cast iron pot (use a bread pot, not a potjiekos pot – it is impossible to flip out) and put the dough inside the pot. Remember to grease the inside of the lid as well. Let it stand close to the fire for about 15 minutes with the lid open. Turn dough regularly to make sure it rises evenly. As soon as the bread is twice its original size, it is ready to be baked. Place the pot on a warm layer of ashes and pack coals around the pot. Place a few coals on the lid. Leave it to bake for about 50 minutes. Carefully remove the coals from the lid so as not to let any ash fall into the pot. Test that the bread has been baked through by sticking a knife through it. If the knife comes out clean, the bread is ready. • Tip: The moment you start smelling the bread, it is too late. By then it has probably burned.