Tuesday, May 7, 2013


The largest group outside of India and Pakistan reside in South Africa; most of who were brought to Natal as contract workers for the sugarcane fields who stayed on and settled down as artisans or merchants. Predictably the Indian influence added spicy curries and much more to the cuisine.

Unlike Zambian or Moroccan, South African cuisine is not so easy to define. A mixed bag of world cuisines it throws back the country’s history. An amazing fusion of French, Portuguese, Indian, Dutch, Malaysian, Zulu, Xhosa and German influences all blending in agreement on a single plate. The best example is a platter of Gemsbok, Crocodile, Warthog and Ostrich meat, but no worries the regular chicken, Lamb and vegetables are available easily at most restaurants at bars in Durban or Cape town are at par with that of any cosmopolitan cities.

Interestingly almost twenty percent of Durban’s (billed as South Africa’s gem) population is of Indian descent, and that is visible in the city’s cuisine. On offer are intriguing chutneys, buttermilk, curries and even Rotis. The favourite local dish is ‘Bunny chow’ basically half a loaf of bread hollowed out and filled with curry which can be chicken or mutton and beans for the vegetarians. Indian stalls also dominate the Victoria Street Market in Central Durban with stallholders selling a huge array of curry powders; the most interesting names being ‘razor blade’, ‘mother-in-law’ and ‘hellfire’ powder which I would say are surely not for the faint-hearted. All in all South Africa is a culinary odyssey that you will never forget!
For a taste of South Africa one can head to ‘CafĂ© style’ in Noida or ‘Life Caffe’ in Connaught place which serve the most scrumptious ‘Bunny chow’. “In our new menu this year we plan to incorporate some South African dishes like ‘bredie’ which is a marvellously subtle and flavoursome stew and perhaps a ‘boboti’ which is a gently spiced symphony of lightly curried mincemeat with a savoury custard topping”, shares Chef Ravitej Nath, Executive Chef at The Oberoi Gurgaon. “Indian cuisine being my forte I love trying anything that even has the remotest whiff of India in it, I have learnt a few dishes like the ‘African pot roast with chicken’ and some desserts made out of the ‘versatile plantain’ which is a staple of South African cooking’, says Chef Kunal Kapoor, judge Master Chef India and Executive Chef Leela Kempinski Gurgaon.

Makes 4
Oil: 45 Ml; Finely chopped Onions: 4 nos; Finely chopped tomatoes: 4 nos; Tomato Puree: 250 Gms; Finely chopped green chilly: 2-3 nos; Finely chopped garlic: 2 nos; Lamb: 800 Gms ; Halved potatoes: 2 medium size; Ground fennel: 1 ½ tsp.; Ground cumin: 1 ½ tsp.; Ground garam masala: 1 ½ tsp.; Ground Coriander: 1 ½ tsp.; Ground Cinnamon: 1 ½ tsp.; Turmeric: 1 ½ tsp.; Bay leaves: 3-4 nos; Salt: to taste;  Unsliced whole loaves of bread: 2 nos.
1.    SautĂ© the onion and garlic until soft in oil. Add all the spices and fry for 2-3 minutes, stirring continuously. Using the extra oil, brown the meat. Add the canned tomatoes and potatoes and simmer gently for 45 minutes to one hour or until the meat is tender and the potatoes are soft.
2.    Cut the fresh white bread loaves into halves or quarters for smaller portions and hollow out the centre, keeping the spare bread to one side. Fill the hollowed out bread with the hot lamb curry and serve with the extra bread.
3.    Serve it with a salad of tomatoes and onions.

 published in HT City