Winter in the Boland brings with it two of my favourite things: arum lilies and waterblommetjies. The street vendors stand on the side of the road with arms full of the milky-white flowers and packets of freshly picked waterblommetjies. I always buy a few packets so that I can freeze them to use when the season is over. Thankfully, this year the harvest seems to be abundant!
When we first moved the region seven years ago, I could remember eating this delicacy only once before when we visited the Cape while living abroad. I probably had it as a child, but it clearly didn’t make as big an impression on me as it did as an adult. When I saw the street vendors with the little hardy flowers that first year, I immediately bought a packet and rushed home to ask our nanny, a local of the valley, how to prepare it.
Here’s Joelene’s answer:
Throw in a pot a bit of meat and onions. Then add spices like cloves and bay leaf or whatever you have in the house, and white pepper. Then add a cup of water and some potatoes, and once they’re cooked, add the waterblommetjies. Then slowly simmer until the flowers are tender. Oh, and surings! (Waterblommetjies love a bit of acidity, which is where these sour yellow flowers come in. You can read more about this super sour sorrel here.)
I have cooked waterblommetjies countless time over the years, and while this recipe is not necessarily the traditional way to cook it, it is certainly a delicious way!
WATERBLOMMETJIES are wild water flowers that grows in dams in the Western Cape during the winter. I have read that you can substitute it with green beans, but I think artichoke hearts are probably a better choice.
How to make Waterblommetjies with Pork and New Potatoes
You will need:
- 500g waterblommetjies, rinsed (fresh is always better, otherwise get the preserved version from your deli)
- 1kg of stewing pork
- 2 onions, cut and diced
- 4 cloves of garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
- 2.5ml of fine cloves
- 3 bay leaves
- salt and white pepper to taste
- 1 cup of dry white wine (sauvignon blanc works well – you can also substitute this with 100ml lemon juice mixed with 150ml water)
- 1 cup of water
- 500g new potatoes, peeled
* I use a slow cooker for this recipe, but you can also place it a heavy casserole dish or cast iron Dutch oven on the stovetop on a very low temperature. Check the liquid regularly to ensure it doesn’t become too dry.
PLace the onions, garlic, meat and spices in the pot. Then layer the potatoes on top and add the wine and water. Put the slow cooker on high and cook until the potatoes are tender (about 3 hours). Then add the waterblommetjies on top and cook for another 2 to 3 hours, until they are also tender. Try to resist stirring the pot as this will cause the waterblommetjies to break. Taste the liquid to see if it needs any more seasoning.
Serve in a deep dish with crusty sourdough bread to mop up the delicious juices.
Waterblommetjies in Enamel Bowl images courtesy of Shutterstock