There’s a zulu on my plate!

I always smile to myself when, despite myself, I always seem to get a bit of Africa onto my plates when presenting for the cooking school, photo shoots or demonstrations.  Don’t worry…I can keep it together when i need to!  I also sometimes sneak traditional African products into my cooking, probably to ward off my longing for friends and family left in Africa!  Thank goodness I have wonderful friends here at home in Brisbane and they don’t mind me feeding them African food whenever I can.

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Now African cooking, in particular Zulu cuisine, is very simple and in normal households would be staple maize meal, vegetables and meat (inyama). Stews and casseroles are firm favourites as they are inexpensive and can feed many mouths.  Samp and beans is another very cost effective way of filling up tummies. Pumpkins, squash (including the leaves) are favourites vegetables as is spinach AKA ‘umfino’. Every tribe will have their own name for something so it can be quite interesting hearing all the different names.  My fathers favourite meal is still Sadza (white maize meal) served with meat and gravy and non of my fancy food can change his mind! He cooks a fabulous potjiekos (stew in 3 legged pot). My mother was a very keen and fabulous cook too and I have thankfully managed to steal her wonderful melk tert (milk tart), Hertzoggies (jam and coconut tarts), buttermilk rusks, Malva pudding and vetkoek (fried bread dough stuffed with curried mince) recipes which I still use today and claim as my own!

Melktert with cinnamon and almond biscotti sail

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Recently I’ve taken to home smoking either chicken or salmon with the ever so popular Rooibos tea.  I have also been setting jellies for various mains and desserts using Rooibos tea as the base and then adjusting the flavour to match the dish I’m making, it really is so versatile.

Home smoked Salmon on a crepe!

Home smoked Salmon on a crepe!

I think African food is on the cusp of trending here in Australia.  We’ve seen Mexico, South America, Vietnam and other Asian foods hit with a vengeance but thanks to that ad on TV everyone wants to know what a bunny chow is!

If you haven’t had a bunny chow you really need to. It’s not only tasty and delicious, but it puts the fun back into food!  The ingredients are honest and simple and you can use various curries.  A Durban curry, like other regional Indian dishes, has a personality and characteristic of it’s own and is a refreshing experience if you enjoy trying something new. There are so many different types and styles of African food and I like to dabble a little in all of the African regions.

My other favourite African style would have to be Mozambican, very close to my heart after all the fabulous holidays i have spent there.

In case you didn’t know, South African is a melting pot of cultures ranging from German, Portuguese, Italian, French, Malaysian, Indian and many more so there are a lot of African adaptations creating many glorious food styles.

I’ll be posting some amazing African inspired recipes and menus over the next few weeks…let me know which ones in particular appeal to you and I’ll get cooking!

I’m wild about cooking…

Mel

The Vanilla Zulu