>> Jaa Dijo Dom Catering | Eat the World NYC

02 March 2018

Jaa Dijo Dom Catering


I do not quite remember whether it was down a Google or Instagram rabbit hole that I first came across Jaa Dijo Dom and chef Charles Chipengule, who has the flag of Botswana next to his profile. This southern African nation is the country of his birth and first two decades, and also a place that has exactly zero representation in New York City.

Catering companies do not make up much of what is written about on these pages, but I knew I would have to make this happen somehow. "Jaa Dijo Dom" in Tswana means "a place to eat," and while they do not quite provide the place, they do provide plenty of options for eating. The vast menu spans the entire continent of Africa from Morocco to Mozambique and back.

After meeting the chef about a month ago and sampling a range of foods, an event with some lovers of world cuisines was inspired and recently about 20 of us got to enjoy some of his passion. We limited the dishes to mostly those of Botswana, with a couple additions from neighboring southern African countries. Reactions to the food were even better than expected, and I think everyone left with a very positive feeling about lunch. If you are inspired to hire Jaa Dijo Dom from this, do let us know what you ordered and how it was please!

One of the most beloved dishes at this meal and in Botswana is vetkoeks (above and below), also known as amagwinya. These fried dough balls might be more commonly associated with South Africa, but are just as delicious in either country. The dough is fried with a slight crisp on the outside while the interior remains superbly chewy and moist. It is stuffed with a minced beef curry (below) and eaten by hand.

Lovers of Caribbean food might notice some similarities to how many islands prepare johnny cakes. A vetkoek can be eaten with different types of meat, but also served sweet with jam or honey.

In Afrikaans, this translates to "fat cake"

Seswaa (below) is a special occasion dish, slowly cooked beef shoulder that you might see men standing around an iron pot and tending for many hours. Traditionally this is simmered with only salt and water.

Listed on the menu as "stampa" (below), this dish has a more common name of samp and beans. Samp are dried corn kernels similar to hominy that have been stamped and chopped until broken and cooked with beans. This paired well with the chakalaka below.

Some flavors of India have made their way into the cuisine of Botswana much like South Africa. Waves of immigration from their southern neighbor and from India directly have led to dishes like the chicken vindaloo devtani (below), cooked with garam masala, tamarind, and cumin. From the feedback I received, this was certainly a crowd favorite.

Possibly the most widely known food item originating from southern Africa is peri peri sauce, which originated in Mozambique but was dispersed around the world by the Portuguese. Jaa Dijo Dom does this spicy red pepper sauce excellently, and a plate of peri peri chicken wings (below) is possibly some of the greatest party food around.

South African chakalaka (below) is a salad or chutney made of mangos and carrots with spicy pepper sauce. The freshness and crispness of this dish was a good break from an otherwise very meaty meal. Jaa Dijo Dom has many vegetable and non-meat dishes, they were just not selected for this catering.

While pairing well with the samp and beans as mentioned above, chakalaka also goes well with the wings, something you may see in the future at a summer outdoor market.

For dessert we were treated to mandazi (below), a sweet delicacy well known in the region around the African Great Lakes. This version is from Malawi, with subtle hints of coconut, cardamom, and nutmeg. It is barely sweet, but perfect with a splendid chewy texture. I saw most people going back for a second if not third one of these.

Mandazi, also known as Swahili buns

Pick the right dishes, and various homemade sauces will be unlocked

Have a desire for something new at home or for catering an office lunch? We're pretty sure we found your man.

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(347) 592-6956

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