Hāngi (pronounced /hɑːŋi/) is an ancient New Zealand Māori method of cooking food using super heated rocks buried in the ground in a pit oven. Modernised hangi methods are still used today and are often saved for special occasions due to the large amount of time and preparatory work involved.

Prior to colonisation and the introduction of metals and wire, food was laid out on clean sticks, bark, large leaves and other vegetation to minimise direct contact with the super hot rocks and reduce burning. Carved bowls and flat rocks were also used for this purpose.Leaves, sticks and vegetation were used to cover the food and to prevent crushing from the weight of the earth on top.

These days, there are many different hangi methods used. Wire baskets became widely used in the early 19th century with sacking and cloth replacing leaves and bark as the covering of choice.

More recently, gas heated stainless steel "hangi machines" have attempted to replicate the style of cooking without need for a wood fire, rocks and a pit. It has become a contentious issue as to what constitutes a "real" or authentic hangi.

An examination of a traditional hot rocks open basket ground hangi reveals exactly how the food obtains the unique flavour that many Kiwis have come to love.

There are three main components to the cooking process, all of which can be affected by many variables including but not limited to earth type, amount of heat in the rocks, quantity of food and portion size, type of food and food placement.

Steaming: Water added at the start of the process creates steam instantly. Once covered, the pit oven becomes a low pressure cooker. Pressures in excess of 4 PSI have been measured. Baking: Direct dry heat from the rocks creates an oven roasting effect. Temperatures in excess of 300°C have been measured.

Smoke: Fat and juices from the meat drip onto the hot rocks and burn causing smoke which appears to be the key to hangi appearance, aroma and flavour. Often there is also ash and ember smoke that can add to the flavour and appearance.

Hangi "experts" have developed and improved methods that often, like the stones themselves have been handed down for generations. The following explains a common method.

To "lay a hāngi" or "put down a hāngi" involves digging a pit in the ground, heating stones in the pit with a large fire, placing wire baskets of food on top of the stones, and covering everything with earth for several hours before uncovering (or lifting) the hāngi. There are many variations and details that can be altered.

Digging the Pit

A hāngi pit doesn't need to be particularly big, but must have room for all the food that will be cooked, plus the stones that will be used to hold the heat. Wire baskets hold the food, and are used as a sizing guide for the pit. This will usually be dug with spades etc by a Maori ira tane (men) as the Maori Wahine (women) aren't allowed to take part in this part of the preparation. They are required to prepare the food for the Hangi.

The Stones

Choosing the Stones

Hāngi stones must be able to withstand high heat without chipping or crumbling. For this reason, igneous (volcanic) rocks are better than metamorphic or sedimentary rocks (e.g. sandstone). If striking the stone with a hammer produces a ringing noise rather than a thud, then the stone is probably good to use in the hāngi.

Large stones of brick size or bigger are better as they hold the heat needed. Bricks are sometimes used if no appropriate natural stone can be found.

Large, solid pieces of steel or iron are also used if there are not enough rocks, but this is discouraged as the metal tends to burn the contents of the hāngi and gives up its heat too rapidly.

Heating the Stones

The stones are normally heated in a large wood fire. Building a lattice of strong wood beams that can support the stones until they fall in is important, as stones buried in ash (as compared to hot coals) are losing heat, not gaining it.

The total burn time depends on the size of the hāngi being laid, but is usually between one and a half hours and two and a half hours.

The Food

Traditional hāngi food is pork, mutton or lamb, and chicken, with generous portions of root vegetables such as kumara (sweet potato), pumpkin, carrot, potato, onions and cabbage.

With a hāngi no special preparation of the food is needed besides peeling the root vegetables, but adding herbs such as rosemary, garlic, or stuffing the chicken can add exciting flavors. A Polynesian addition of taro leaves wrapped around some of the food gives it a peppery spice.

The food is placed in muslin lined wire baskets. If muslin is not available, clean white cotton bedsheets are fine. This cloth is soaked in water to prevent burning and provide water for steaming the food.

The wire baskets are there to not only hold the food but also protect the food from the weight of earth piled on top and beside them, creating space for steam to circulate.

Laying the Hāngi

This whole step is done as quickly as possible to prevent heat loss from the stones.

When the fire has burned down the ash and coals must be removed or they dominate the flavour, but leaving a few coals gives a smoky flavour which some people prefer. Spraying the rocks very briefly with water produces a rush of steam that removes any loose ash.

Hessian cloth sacks, soaked in water overnight, are laid atop the stones to give extra protection to the food, and provide more water for steam. The food-filled baskets are then placed atop the hessian sacking, and covered with more wet hessian sacks to keep the dirt away. The whole arrangement is then rapidly covered with loose soil from the original pit to seal in heat and steam.

Once the hāngi is buried, any escaping steam is sealed by applying more soil.

This process goes on for three to four hours, depending on the quantity of food being cooked.

ee also

*Clam bake

External links

* A good detailed how-to guide: [http://www.maorifood.com/hangi.htm maorifood.com]
* Description of Home-cooked Hangi in the UK (with photos): [http://www.bandannaclub.com/Events-GoodTimes-Hangi.shtml bandannaclub.com]

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Hāngi — ist ein Wort aus der Sprache der Māori Neuseelands. Es beschreibt eine traditionelle Art und Weise des Kochens. Es wird dabei ein Loch in den Boden gegraben, in das heiße Steine gegeben werden, auf diese werden in großen Blättern eingewickelte… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Hangi — Hāngi ist ein Wort aus der Sprache der Māori Neuseelands. Es beschreibt eine traditionelle Art und Weise des Kochens. Es wird dabei ein Loch in den Boden gegraben, in das heiße Steine gegeben werden. Anschließend werden in Blätter eingewickelte… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Hāngi — Preparando un hāngi. Cena hāngi. Hāngi …   Wikipedia Español

  • hangi — sf. İki veya daha çok şeyden bir tanesini belirtecek bir cevap istemek için kullanılan soru sıfatı Zamanla nasıl değişiyor insan / Hangi resmime baksam ben değilim. C. S. Tarancı Birleşik Sözler hangi biri herhangi herhangi bir Atasözü, Deyim ve… …   Çağatay Osmanlı Sözlük

  • hangi — [ haŋi, hα:ŋi] noun NZ a pit in which food is cooked on heated stones. ↘a meal or gathering at which food is cooked in such a way. Origin from Maori …   English new terms dictionary

  • hangi — /ˈhʌŋi / (say hungee) noun 1. a Maori oven in which food is steamed over hot stones in the ground; umu. 2. food prepared in this manner. 3. a feast at which such food is served. {Maori} …   Australian English dictionary

  • hangi — ˈhäŋē noun ( s) Etymology: Maori : an underground oven used by the Maoris that consists of a pit in which stones are heated, wrapped food is placed on stones, and branches, wet sacks, and earth are used to cover the stones and food …   Useful english dictionary

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  • hangi biri — zm. Çok olanlardan hangisi Hangi birini sayayım? …   Çağatay Osmanlı Sözlük

  • hangi dağda kurt öldü? — birisinden beklenmeyen bir davranış görüldüğünde şaşma ve sitem bildirmek için kullanılan bir söz Hangi dağda kurt öldü de sen beni aradın? …   Çağatay Osmanlı Sözlük

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