These stovetop english muffins (diphaphata) require no yeast and are a quick and easy food to make from Botswania. They are soft, dense and chewy, and are particularly delicious served hot with cream cheese and jam.
Oveview of Botswana
We are officially into the forth week of our cooking around the world challenge! Although it is proving to be a somewhat exhausting project, it’s also been a lot of fun. It has been especially fun talking to other people about it and hearing either their enthusiasm or confusion as to why we would willing choose to undertake such a mammoth task. Either way, we are still here and still cooking!
Next up on our list was Botswana, another African nation for us to tick off. As I began researching Botswanan cuisine, a lot of the dishes sound curiously familiar, which was strange, as I did not think I was familiar at all with Botswanan food. It took me awhile to remember that Botswana borders on South Africa. Suddenly, everything made sense.
History of Botswanaian Cuisine
Unsurprisingly, there are a lot of similarities between South African and Botswanan cuisine. Whilst many dishes are popular among both nations, Botswana also has its unique culinary aspects. Botswanan cuisine is often referred to as ‘Setswana’ food, which is named after the language that is predominately spoken across the country.
Most of the food eaten in Botswana is grown locally. The country has a lot of hand-raised livestock, so high-quality meat, particularly beef, is integral to the cuisine. Goat, mutton, chicken and river fish are also abundant. The main crops of the country are maize and sorghum, and many people will eat one of the two for breakfast as porridge. Beans, legumes and a large range of vegetables are also grown.
As for fruit, apparently, watermelon originally comes from Botswana. Whether or not this is true, melon is plentiful in the country. Most of the fruit and vegetables in Botswana are seasonal; they are often preserved through different methods such as drying or salting. As a result, you find some interesting ingredients and cooking techniques in Setswana food.
Interestingly, in Botswana, the main meal is generally eaten at lunchtime, then leftovers or bread are eaten at dinner. Although not a native crop, wheat flour has been imported into the country for many years. As a result, various types of bread have become a part of the national food.
Popular Botswania Foods
- Pap– A very common accompaniment to almost every meal in Botswana. Ground maize is made into a porridge that comes in different textures- soft and smooth, dry and crumbly or a thick consistency.
- Morogo- A side dish that is often served with pap, also known as wild spinach. It generally combines at least three different dark green leafy vegetables and provides a lot of nutrients. It is either eaten plain or with onion, tomatoes and butter.
- Dikgobe– Served as either a main or side dish, dikgobe is a combination of peas and beans with sorghum or maize meal to create a savoury porridge. It can be served as a main meal or a side dish.
- Matemekwane– A seasoned dumpling often stuffed with meat and vegetables. They are crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside, usually served with hot soup or a dip.
- Vetkoek- Fried dough bread that is eaten with various fillings or toppings. It’s either served sweet with honey or jam, or as a meal filled with curried mince.
- Diphaphatha– Circular flat breads made of flour and yeast that are cooking in a frying pan.
Making Diphaphata (No Yeast English Muffins)
Before beginning this challenge, we had no idea how many types flatbreads there were in the world. Every country seems to have its own variation. Although they all contain the same base ingredients, namely flour, water and salt, each flatbread manages to come out rather unique.
Botswana’s version of a flatbread has a particularly fun name: diphaphata, pronounced dee-pa-pat-ta. Try saying that ten times really fast. Although as mentioned above, wheat flour was an introduced Botswana food, bread products have now become a big part of Botswanan cuisine.
Diphaphata were said to originate from Xaxaba, which is an island in Botswana that has now been overridden with safari tours. With its clear resemblance to the English muffin, we have an inkling that it was brought over during British rule.
Unlike most high maintenance bread recipes that require incessant folding and hours of resting, these stovetop muffins are ridiculously easy to make. Requiring one bowl, one pan, minimal ingredients that you should already have, and less than 30 minutes of time, bready goodness doesn’t get much easier than this.
How to make diphaphata from Botswana
As mentioned above, these no-yeast english muffins are so simple to make and come together in less than 30 minutes, and that includes 15 minutes of resting time (for both the dough and you).
- Combine ingredients in large bowl, kneading dough for about 3 minutes.
- Cover dough and leave to rest for 15 minutes.
- Roll out dough and cut into circles.
- Cook dough circles on hot pan for about 2 minutes per side and serve!
Ingredient notes for diphaphata
- Milk- We used regular whole milk for our muffins, however you can replace with a non-dairy milk or with water. Whatever liquid your heart desires.
- Butter– We used a bit of butter in the pan whilst cooking our no-yeast english muffins to add some flavour and stop anything from sticking. Having said this, typically, diphaphata are cooked on a dry pan or griddle, so you can omit the butter or replace it with oil if vegan.
- Sugar– If you are planning to serve these as a savoury snack, you can omit the sugar.
Serving suggestions for diphaphata
In Botswana, diphaphata are eaten as a snack, as a side dish to a main or as a meal in itself. They can be served with sweet or savoury toppings. Basically what we are saying is these stovetop muffins are blank canvases to serve as you please. We cut ours in half, and spread them with cream cheese and raspberry jam and had them with a cup of tea. It felt slightly more British than Botswanian, but was a delightful eating experience nonetheless.
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp white sugar
- 1/2 cup milk, dairy or non-dairy
- 1 tbsp butter
- In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt and sugar.
- Slowly add in milk to flour mixture and stir to combine. Knead for 3 minutes until a soft, smooth dough has formed.
- Cover dough and allow to rest for 15 minutes.
- Dust bench with flour and roll out dough to half a centimetre thick.
- Use a round cookie cutter or bowl with sharp edges to cut rounds, around 8cm in diameter.
- Heat a flat pan over high heat. Add one tablespoon of butter. Once melted, reduce heat to medium.
- Place as many dough rounds as you can fit on the pan and cook for 2 minutes on each side or until they go slightly brown and puffy.
- Leave for a few minutes before slicing in half and serving with your favourite toppings!
For more recipes from Africa
- Cocada Amarela Recipe (Spiced Coconut Porridge)
- Mahjouba Recipe – Savoury Algerian Crepes
- Caramelised Banana Porridge from Benin