Recipe by: Tania Nicaise

Source: and “Botswana Traditional Recipes”, 2d edition, Department of Arts and Culture, ed. Wame Molefhe

Serves: 6-8


This traditional dish is very popular in Botswana and is always served on big events such as weddings and other celebrations.

The traditional recipe is very simple and has only 3 ingredients: beef (with bones), salt and water. The meat is usually prepared by men, boiled in a three legged cast iron pot on an open fire, bones are removed and the meat is pounded until it looks like it has been shredded.

To make it easier, you can cook boneless cut of beef suitable for slow cooking in a cast iron casserole or a slow cooker.

Seswaa is served with the traditional pap (phaletshe or bogobe=thick corn meal porridge) and side green vegetables, usually a local kind of spinach.

Corn meal pap can be found at the African Market Place (@Bukit Timah Plaza)

Ingredients (Beef Seswaa)

  • 800 g beef for stew (add more if you use meat with bones for a nicer gravy); [ I used ~ 700 g beef flank + 2 medium oxtail pieces with bones]
  • 1 whole onion
  • 3 bay leaves
  • Salt to taste
  • ½ tsp black pepper grains or 1 dried chili
  • Water (enough to just cover the meat)

Ingredients (Pap)

  • 3 cups water
  • 2 cups maize meal
  • 1 tsp salt or to taste

Instructions (Beef Seswaa)

  • Preheat oven to 160C if you wish to slow cook the beef in the oven. You can also slow cook over the cooker.
  • Cut the meat into large chunks the brown it in a casserole suitable for slow cooking (cast iron Dutch)
  • Add the whole peeled onion, bay leaves, salt, cracked black pepper and/or chili and water.
  • Bring to boil then cover and decrease the fire to slow cook for at least 2-3h or until the meat is very soft. You can also place into the oven for 4h, or cook in a slow cooker overnight.
  • Separate meat from gravy then use a wooden spoon or fork to pound or mash up the meat. It should fall apart quite easily and appear shredded like ‘pulled pork’. You can brown the meat further on fire if desired.
  • Check seasoning then serve with the corn meal pap and greens

Instructions (Pap)

  • In a large saucepan, bring the 3 cups water to a rapid boil. Add the salt.
  • Mix 1 cup of maize meal with 1 cup of room temp water in order to dissolve the maize and avoid any lumps when adding the maize in hot water.
  • Pour this wet mixture in the boiling water. Mix, cover and reduce the heat to medium-low. Leave the pap for 6-8 min. Resist the urge to stir.
  • Remove the lid, then stir vigorously for 1 minute to incorporate any remaining maize meal into the water.
  • Repeatedly mash the pap against the side of the saucepan for approximately 2 minutes to get rid of any lumps.
  • Gradually add another cup of maize meal, stir vigorously and mash again. Reduce the heat to the lowest setting, replace the lid and let the pap steam for 10 minutes.
  • Remove the lid and stir. If the pap is a bit too dry, add a little more water and stir again.

Rem: The consistency should be stiff. If you with a softer consistency, mix another water with the 2d batch of maize meal before adding it to the saucepan.

Download PDF here. There are more photos in this PDF than in this blog post. Botswana Beef Seswaa with Phaletshe or Bogobe