It’s poike season: The ultimate “Jewish” campfire meal

Popular with South African Jews, poike is the ultimate campfire food.
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If you’ve ever been to an authentic Israeli campfire, you’ve probably noticed a small iron pot filled with slow-cooked food being passed around for all to enjoy. This dish is called poike [p-oy-keh] and just like s’mores in American camping-culture, poike has been Israel’s all time favorite campfire meal for the last 30 years.

Similar to a tagine, poike refers to the pot in which various meals can be cooked, rather than the specific dish being prepared inside the pot (sometimes the dish is also referred to as Galilean beef stew). Yet even though every poike dish differs from the next, traditional poike usually includes a combination of beef, vegetables, and potatoes.

What makes this dish so unique however, is not its taste, but rather the pot’s ability to evenly distribute heat amongst the entirety of its contents, making it the perfect meal to prepare at a campfire.

A brief history of poike and Israel

The concept of this unique small cooking cauldron emerged in Europe during the Middle Ages and survived “extinction” by immigrating to South Africa along with some European colonizers in the mid-1600s. There, it was given the name “poike” which in Afrikaans means “small, round pot.”

In the late 1990s, poike arrived in Israel amidst a wave of Jewish South African immigration, gaining traction among elite army units that were required to camp in the fields for long periods of time.

Soon, the meal trickled down into other sectors of Israeli society.

Our poike recipe

If you’re looking for an easy and delicious way to enjoy the outdoors this year, here’s a quick poike recipe for you to try out.

Ingredients:

  • Pieces of beef meat – as per the number of people eating.
  • 8 onions
  • 4 sweet potatoes
  • 4 potatoes
  • 1 garlic head
  • Dried fruit: dates, apricots, plums, figs, raisins. (Create the mix to your liking)
  • Cinnamon sticks
  • 1/2 cup of Silan
  • 1 bottle of red wine
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • Salt, Pepper, Cardamom, Bay leaves, Ginger, Thyme.

Directions:

Cut all vegetables into large chunks
Fry the onion, add in the meat and brown for a few minutes
Add the rest of the ingredients – exclude the sweet potato and the garlic, season, and cover with water – until half the pot is filled with water.
Cook for 30 minutes, now add the sweet potato and garlic, check seasoning and continue cooking until the vegetables are soft and the meat is tender.
Throughout the cooking time make sure that the pot is always 1/3 filled with water.
Serve straight out of the pot – everyone will be amazed at how delicious it is!

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