A New Zealand speciality: Māori Hāngī

A Māori hāngī can be decidedly hard work! First, you need to “lay a hāngī” meaning dig a pit to cook food in. Into this pit will go stones that will be heated to slow cook or smoke the food. River stones (kohatu) are supposedly the best, giving the food a unique flavour. The stones are heated before use by a large fire, then baskets with the food are placed on the hot stones. All of this is covered, traditionally with earth, leaves and bark. The food or ‘Kai’ slowly braises for a couple of hours or even a day depending on the type and amount of food. Currently, the fashion is to use cloths to cover the food and not the leaves or bark, although some continue to use traditional methods. Food for a Māori hāngī can include fish, meat and vegetables, especially tasty is the Kumara (sweet potatoes) cooked this way. Food once wrapped in leaves to smoke in the pit are now in metal wire baskets or tin foil. Despite the labour, intensive work required a hāngī remains a delicious way to cook a family meal. If that is all a little too much trouble do not despair, you can order hāngī meat online from legitimate businesses; yes legitimate, after the debacle with fines for selling hāngī on Facebook in Auckland a few years back all businesses advertising on social media have to have licenses. Or if you still want to partake of your own hāngī, without the digging up your lawn, then look to buy one of the specialist steel ovens that are for sale, especially recommended are the ones you can purchase from Te Kohatu Hangi Cookers. Kia mākona.

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