How to Make a Traditional Maori BBQ

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How to Make a Traditional Maori BBQ

Tuesday May 01, 2018 Written by Oliver Pelling

A hangi is a traditional Maori method of cooking food in which heated volcanic rocks are buried in a pit along with meat and vegetables, creating a steamy, earthy-tasting feast. And we mean feast. These instructions, care of Newcastle Maori Club vice-president David Horne, will feed 50, but can be adjusted up or down. N.B. Always use volcanic rocks, as non-volcanic ones can explode.

EQUIPMENT: a shovel, firewood, volcanic rocks, a large (clean) bedsheet, 5 hessian sacks, large bucket of water, and chicken wire, folded into a basket a little smaller than your pit (see method for size).

INGREDIENTS: enough meat (chicken, beef, and lamb work well) and vegetables (potatoes, pumpkins, cabbage, etc.) to fill your basket, cut to size for even cooking. Cabbage or banana leaves for coating your basket. You can substitute with tinfoil, though it won’t be as tasty.

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STEP 1 

Dig a pit in the ground roughly 50cm deep, 50cm wide and 75cm long. The larger the pit, the more food you can cook in one sitting.

 

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STEP 2  

Lay wood in pit with volcanic rocks on top. Set wood on fire and leave for 2-3 hours. The rocks should be white-hot when fire burns out. Remove embers.

 

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STEP 3

Construct a basket from chicken wire. Lay cabbage/banana leaves on the bottom and sides. Add your meat, then pile vegetables on top.

 

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STEP 4

Soak bedsheet and hessian sacks in water. Place bedsheet over food, tucking sides into basket. Place basket on rocks and cover with damp hessian sacks.

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STEP 5

Cover hessian sacks with a thick mound of dirt and leave for 3-4 hours. If you see any steam escaping, cover with more dirt to seal in heat and steam.

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STEP 6

Carefully remove dirt and uncover hessian sacks. Remove basket using oven mitts. Discard bedsheet and place food on chopping boards. Carve and eat.

This ‘how-to’ is from ‘Baptism of Fire’, an article on the evolution of barbecue that you can read in Smith Journal Volume 27, on sale now. 

Illustrator: Timothy Rodgers

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