Saturday, March 8, 2014

The Wonderbag

The Post Office strike finally ended and my new Wonderbag finally arrived! I decided to try a beef curry recipe first. The Wonderbag is kind of like an electricity free slow cooker. You begin your dish on the stove, simmer it for a bit, and then put it in the Wonderbag to finish. In all, my curry spent about 45 minutes on the burner, then 3 1/2 hours in the Wonderbag. After I took the curry out, I put in a pot of brown basmati. I simmered the curry on the stove while the rice cooked, because the curry needed more cooking time.

Overall, I was quite pleased with the results -- and Perry was, too! Next time I'll adjust the curry's cooking time upward by a couple hours. Part of the problem, I think, stemmed from the fact that I had to cook the curry on a hotplate, because our stove is broken again. The hotplate just couldn't get the curry as hot and simmering as the stove could've. Next time I'll Wonderbag the curry for 5-6 hours. For the rice, I added a cup of brown basmati to 2 cups of boiling water with 1/2 teaspoon of salt and a tablespoon of butter in it. I boiled the rice for 15 minutes, and put it in the Wonderbag for 1 1/2 hours. The rice came out fluffy and nicely cooked, but the grains were blown. Next time, I'll halve the boiling time.

The Wonderbag was created in South Africa and is a real fuel saver (whether electricity or firewood or gas). They're available on Amazon as a buy one, give one deal. You'll receive a Wonderbag, and one will be donated to an African family.

Making the curry is pretty straightforward: Brown stew beef dusted in seasoned flour. Saut√© an onion, add some salt, pepper, garlic and ginger, then a tablespoon or two of curry & a little turmeric. I also added a teaspoon of cayenne, just because. A can of dced tomatoes and a cup and a half of stock or water go in next. Simmer for 20 minutes. Add butternut and chickpeas and simmer a while longer. I had so much butternut that I skipped the white potatoes called for in the recipe, but next time I'll definitely add them for some texture. 
Simmering the curry. Our stove is broken again, so I had to use the hotplate.
I tossed this picture in for those of you who may wonder how we do dishes without running water. The answer is camp-style!
The Wonderbag awaits the curry. As suggested, I lined the bottom with a thick towel to protect the bottom from excessive heat and to collect any spills. By the way, you can see our giant teakettle on the floor in the background, that's what we use to heat bath water. I'd never seen a tea kettle that large before South Africa!
I nestled the hot pot of curry in...
…covered it with a towel and this pillow….
…and cinched it up tight! I left the curry in for several hours, and then I cooked the rice. When I took the curry out the pot was still very hot…steaming hot. It could've easily stayed in for 2 to 3 more hours, I think.
The curry and the rice, ready to eat!
Fluffy rice with zero risk of burning in the pot! This is definitely my new go-to way to prepare rice.
Ready to eat! On the side we have chutney, greek yoghurt, and minced flat leaf parsley instead of cilantro ("Coriander is kute. Is finished, ma'am." said the clerk at Spar).
So, there you have it. Our first Wonderbag meal, which will feed us for three days, by the way!

- Elizabeth


  1. Molly, James and DrewApril 2, 2014 at 7:47 AM

    Love it! What an awesome energy conservation design. And, wow that IS a massive tea kettle :).

  2. looks like you're eating good! thinking about you both back here in Seattle....
    take care,