African Culinary Safari…with the Vanilla Zulu

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Flavours from Africa!  What a melting pot of cultural diversity South African cuisine is

…which makes it really easy for me to be creative with some old classics.

Why not try some of these delicious recipes next time you feel like an Instant African Culinary Safari!

Sweet Potato Samoosa’s with strawberry chilli jam

  • 2 cups sweet potato mash
  • 1 tablespoon butter or oil
  • 1 onion finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder
  • 1 small chilli finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • 1 teaspoon ginger, minced
  • 3 tablespoons chopped coriander
  • 1 egg mixed until very thin with 125 ml water to make egg wash
  • Spring roll pastry sheets, cut in half

Heat and grease a frying pan and then add the onion, ginger and the garlic into the oil/butter and stir while allowing to soften. Cook for about a minute and then add the curry powder and stir through. When fragrant add the sweet potato and the coriander and adjust the seasoning with some salt and the chilli.


When cool brush the pastry with the egg wash and place about a tablespoon on the one corner at the bottom of the pastry. Simply fold over so the edge meets and continue to fold up forming a neat triangle as you go. Either fry immediately in hot oil or place on a try in the fridge and cook as needed. Fry and then drain.


Use a chutney or jam with a bit of chopped coriander, chilli, fried Asian shallots and edible petals. Delicious!

For the jam simply boil up 2 cups chopped fruit such as strawberry, plum, pineapple, peaches or a mixture with 1 cup water and half a cup white sugar with 1 teaspoon minced ginger and 1 teaspoon lemongrass.   Boil hot and fast, shaking from time to time, until the syrup is nice and thick. Cool and store.


Rich and sexy Oxtail Potjie with capsicum speck ‘bling’

Recipe to serve 6-8

  • 2kg oxtail 
  • 80-100 g diced speck or bacon
  • 2 cloves garlic crushed (use a fork and some salt to crush the clove)
  • 2 large onions roughly chopped or 8 – 10 shallots peeled and diced (you could leave them whole as well)
  • 2 carrots peeled and roughly diced or sliced (try find purple carrots as they will add some personality and colour to this dish)
  • 200ml good red wine (and a glass for the chef!)
  • 800ml – 1L good beef stock (depends on how saucy you like it)
  • 2 large ripe tomatoes finely diced or 1 tin chopped tomatoes or 400ml passata
  • 2 tablespoons plain flour mixed to a paste with 2 tablespoon soft butter.

Spray and then heat a heavy based pan/potjie until swear-word hot.  You can spray this with canola spray which is excellent for heat or use 1 tablespoon vegetable/rice bran/canola oil but please don’t use olive oil as it will smoke and burn!

Carefully add the oxtail, it should be hot and should sizzle… DO NOT STIR until the first layer has browned and you can actually smell that it’s brown.  You can peek if you have to just to check. Once brown you can stir through or turn over but then leave alone completely until brown or else you are encouraging the meat to stew instead of brown.  You may need to do this again to the second batch of meat if your pan was too small so just repeat the process.  Once the meat is mostly browned you can add the bacon/speck and the onion and stir through once.  Allow to cook through until you can start smelling the bacon and then you can stir until your heart’s content! Add the onions and the garlic and stir through until fragrant, douse with the wine then turn the heat down to about medium heat and allow it to cook off for about two to three minutes before adding the rest of the ingredients EXCEPT the flour and butter paste, as that goes in towards the end once the meat is tender.

Cook over a medium to low heat for at least an hour, you may need longer, I recommend a two hour cook time! When the meat is tender you can whisk in your thickening, cook it though for a minute and then serve!

I served mine with a delicious parmesan (instant) Polenta/semolina prepared as per package instructions but laced with parmesan cheese and butter!

Capsicum and speck bling

Fry about 2 tablespoons chopped speck or bacon in a hot pan, once fragrant add 1 sliced red capsicum and cook hot and fast. Use this delicious red fragrant fry to bling up the oxtail and polenta/semolina stack.


Home smoked salmon pate

  • 200-400g salmon portion skin on or off
  • Half teaspoon Maldon salt, half teaspoon sugar and black pepper to season

To smoke

  • ½ cup rooibos tea or similar 

Trust me! This is going to be easy!

First, find a wok or a large pot with a lid. Find a colander, sieve, strainer or wire wrack that will fit into the pot or wok but will keep the food off the base of the pan. Grease the rack or sieve so the fish doesn’t stick.


Here’s a video showing everything, although this covers how to smoke chicken. Same method, though!


Season the fish with the salt, sugar and pepper and then place skin side up on the greased wire rack.

Now place the tea on the base of the wok/pot, place the wire rack and fish over this, put on the lid and then place on the stove top. Put on maximum heat and once you see smoke, time for about 8-12 minutes. This will depend on the thickness of the fish.

Test the fish at 8 minutes, use a fork to see if it flakes, and cook longer if required. You can remove the skin if you like and bake separately in a hot oven until crispy.


Mix the cooked and cooled and flaked or mashed smoked fish with 250g brick of cream cheese or 250g Crème fraîche, 1 tablespoon chopped dill/coriander/chives/parsley and 1 tablespoon grainy mustard.

Ready to serve!


Melktert with cinnamon pistachios and spun sugar bling


Tart shell
  • 1 ½ cups / 180g plain flour (can use gluten free)
  • 60g almond meal, toasted
  • ½ cup / 110g sugar
  • 140g cold butter, chopped
  • Zest of 1 Orange/lemon , 2 tablespoons pistachios, crushed

Place all ingredients in a food processor and combine until the mixture comes together. Cover with cling film and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Press pastry into tart cases and trim. Bake in a moderate oven (170°C) for 10 minutes until just slightly browned. Remove from oven and allow to cool.

  • 250ml milk
  • 200ml cream
  • 50g sugar,1 teaspoon vanilla paste
  • Zest of 1 orange/lemon
  • 3 tablespoons butter, 2 tablespoons flour(can use gluten free)

Bring the milk, cream, sugar, vanilla and orange zest to the boil in a saucepan. Allow to cool slightly.

Combine butter and flour together to make a paste. Using a whisk, stir the butter and flour paste into the milk mixture off the heat until the paste is well mixed in. Place on the heat and cook until the mixture thickens. This is to cook the flour through. Spoon mixture into cooked pastry cases. Dust with cinnamon and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Note: you can use a large tart case with this recipe. Your cooking times will vary.

Spun sugar

Simply dissolve 1 cup sugar and half a cup of water together in a frying pan. Boil hot and fast until caramel. Spin as per demo!


Cinnamon Pistachio Bling

Roast half a cup of pistachios in an oven until fragrant, remove from heat, cool. Bash down in food processor or pestle and mortar and add half a teaspoon cinnamon. Use as dust on your plate when serving.

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