This weekend we tried making our own hāngi for the first time. It is method of cooking originating from New Zeeland where you use a hole in the ground as an oven.
Digging a hole for the hāngi
The first step is to decide on a place for the hāngi. In our case we wanted to be able to watch it from the house, without it taking up too much of the view, so we ended up deciding on a hill just off the lawn, but still hidden with some high grass. Since we will be starting fires in the pit we also tried to get as far away from any trees as possible.
Next step is to get the shovels and start digging. The pit should be about half a meter deep and depending on the amount of food you want to cook it should also be quite wide.
Fetching stones and fire wood
The main element of the hāngi, except the fire itself that is, is definitely the stones. Fortunately the ground where we dug our pit was full of stones (the first time someone ever was happy for stones in the ground when digging a hole?), but we also picked up some larger ones that we found in the surrounding area. Since we were starting a fire we also had to find some suitable fire wood. Fortunately we could use some proper dried fire wood to start the fire and then we used some large logs from a fallen oak that made up the bulk of the fire.
Starting the hāngi fire
After the hole has been dug it is time to start the fire. We built a simple fire based on dried fire wood in the bottom and then leaned some larger logs of wood against that small starting fire.
We don’t have any experience with starting fires so we spent quite some time to get it right and to watch it to ensure that it was really burning.
Adding the stones to the hāngi
Since the stones are the main source for heat whilst the fire has burnt out it was now time to add these on top of the fire. This was achieved by building a primitive net out of some larger sticks of wood onto which the stones could be placed. As the fire progressed these wooden sticks would after some time break and let the stones fall into the fire to accumulate even more heat.
We will be back with the following steps in an other post shortly. Bare with us! There we will describe how to place the food into the pit and in what as well as how to cover the pit and some reflections on the outcome of this first attempt, which wasn’t that successful when it came to the food cooking part…
Back to basics,
Cecilia & Magnus