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August 18, 2014 | by  | in Ngāi Tauira Opinion |
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Hāngi Recipe

A hāngi is a way of cooking food as done by Māori today and by their ancestors before them. Today, a hāngi is prepared for special occasions. Basically, it involves cooking in the ground, though you can use more modern methods and prepare a hāngi using special stainless-steel technology. Both produce mean kai!

1. Note: traditional hāngi is prepared in the ground. It is a lengthy process taking up to four hours just for the cooking. Preparing the food will take at least an hour or two depending on how many kaiāwhina you have. The more, the better!

2. Prepare potatoes, kumara, cabbage and other vegetables first. Wash them after peeling and trimming. Lots of kaiāwhina is good, and everybody can have a good kōrero.

3. Know that in the meantime, others can dig a hole about knee-deep and about two metres in diameter. Fill it up with wood (slow-burning), pile up some volcanic stones on top, or large lumps of steel. Heat these up for a few hours; keep adding wood if necessary. Maybe two to three hours of burning.

4. Remove the embers and unburnt wood when the stones/steel are red-hot.

5. Have the vegetables ready to go in wire baskets.

6. The meat should be ready to go also. Whatever you or your group prefer. Put the meat under the vegetables in the basket as it will take longer to cook.

7. Essentially, the cooking is a steaming process, with some direct heat from the stones on the lower layers of food.

8. Cover the baskets with nice white and clean cotton cloth (sheets or old tablecloths – but make sure they are clean) which are completely wet. Put wet sacks (hessian) over these cloths so that no earth can get onto the food.

  • Now, shovel earth over the sacks carefully and make sure that no steam can escape. If you see steam escaping, put some more earth on that spot.

  • Have some people stand by and keep an eye on the hāngi while it cooks for about three to four hours. Better to leave it longer and make sure it is well and truly cooked. Everyone else can have some time off until serving time arrives. Don’t take your eye off the mound of earth in the meantime, though.

9. Learn that when the time to open the hāngi has arrived, you will need a number of people with shovels to carefully remove the layer of earth. Be very careful as you sensitively remove the earth. You do not want to spoil the food at this stage.

10. Carry the baskets to tables and serve it up to the old people first after karakia.

11. Eat up, whānau!

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