Hāngi: Maori Cooking Technique

The birthday party that my husband and I attended on last Sunday marks the third time in my life, I have eaten food cooked on hot stones.  The first was when I was 12, we were at Club Med in Eleuthera, Bahamas which I just found out no longer exists thanks to Hurricane Floyd in 1999. The steaks that we ordered were cooked right next to our table on a stone slab.  It was a baffling concept for my young mind that a rock could produce as much sizzle as a grill.  The next stone cooked meal I enjoyed was a traditional Mongolian Khorkhog at the Mongolian Embassy in Sofia, but I had yet to “put down a Hāngi” and I was really excited.

Hāngi is a traditional New Zealand Maori method of cooking food using heated rocks buried in a pit.  Being that it is rather labor intensive the practices is reserved for special occasions and what is more special than a 40th birthday bash.  Graeme and Jo from Tears of Orpheus really know how to “lay down a hāngi”

When we arrived everything had been prepared and buried.  Looking at the pit, you would think they were hiding bodies.  It was quite an ominous scene.

Despite that fact that Graeme is from New Zealand this was the first time that he had ever prepared a Hāngi.  Around 9am they began heating the rocks and digging the pit.  You are supposed to use volcanic rocks normally, but being that Bulgaria is short on volcanos, river stones would have to do.

Once people started getting hungry, they decided to dig it up and my husband volunteered to do some heavy lifting.  It is really hard for me to equate digging in the dirt and yummy food, but once they reveled the hidden bounty and opened the sealed packet the smell was out standing… pumpkin, pork, chicken and garlic cooked to perfection!

The guest are eagerly awaiting the grub!
The meat was succulent and tender.  It literally melted on your tongue.  I only hope I don’t have to wait for a Kiwi friend to turn 40 to experience another Hāngi.  If my friend Sally or Roy are reading this post, I would suggest that you throw a party when Jane and Louis are in town and put down a Hāngi!

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Author: caseyangelova

Eating, Gardening & Living in Bulgaria www.caseyangelova.com

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