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What’s cooking today: Aloo tikki

Aloo tikki is a popular street food in India. They’re made with mashed potato, peas, onion and spices and taste much like bhajis (chilli bites).
This recipe came about when I had some leftover mashed potato and did a bit of googling the next morning to find a recipe with a bit of zing. You could of course make basic hash browns with leftover mash, but I wanted something that goes a step or two further. To wit: add peas, spring onion and spices.
The recipe is more my interpretation of aloo tikki than a formal recipe for them. And given that most of us have a bag of frozen peas in the freezer, it’s very much a recipe to be made with things you may already have to hand: flour, an egg, peas, potato, spring onion, and spices. (I find that there are always a couple of stray spring onions in the crisper, in which they last quite well).
The key spice here is turmeric, both for its flavour and colour; that’s where the lovely yellow hue comes from in the photo. The other spices I chose are coriander, fenugreek and fennel, all in powdered form. This is not a dish you’d want to find crunchy seeds in.
(Makes 6)
1 cup frozen peas, blanched
2 cups leftover mashed potato
½ cup cake wheat flour
4 spring onions, chopped finely
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground fennel
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp ground fenugreek
A little salt and white pepper
1 large egg, beaten
Cooking oil for frying
Put the frozen peas in a small pot and cover with water, bring to a boil, boil for three minutes, drain in a colander and refresh under cold running water. Drain again.
In a bowl, mix together the mashed potato, flour, chopped spring onions, spices and seasoning.
Beat the egg and fold it in, then add the blanched peas and combine with a wooden spoon.
With floured hands and on a board, divide the mixture into six parts and shape them into round patties, dousing them in flour on all sides to help you shape them. Your hands will be messy by now.
Heat oil in a pan on a moderate to low heat and fry them. As each one is formed, drop them into the pan. Turn every minute or so for even cooking. They should be done within five minutes.
Serve as a component of a breakfast fry-up or as the main attraction with a poached egg on ...

What’s cooking today: Asparagus and cheese frittata

Asparagus spears reached out to me the other day and swiftly found themselves in an omelette. An Italian one.
Asparagus spears, even if briefly blanched and refreshed, retain their light crunch after being cooked with egg in the oven. Their good looks also mean you can arrange the tips to look pretty when you turn the frittata out.
I used plenty of creamy feta from Dalewood Fromage near Franschhoek and sprinkled grated Colby cheese from Klein River in Stanford near Hermanus over the top before baking it. And butter, there must be butter when frying or baking eggs.
16 asparagus spears
2 Tbsp butter
1 medium onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 cup Dalewood Fromage full cream Jersey feta or similar, crumbled or chopped
8 large eggs
Salt to taste
White pepper to taste
1 cup grated Klein River Colby full fat semi hard cheese
Preheat the oven to 170℃.
Prepare the asparagus spears by snapping off the ends (they will break at their weakest point, which is precisely that point between the softer part of the spear and the woody stem). Use a paring knife to scrape off the scales.
Cut each spear into five or six pieces. Blanch them in boiling water for a minute. Refresh under cold water and drain. Separate the tips from the bits of stem.
In a pan, sauté onions and garlic in butter until softened. Season with salt and white pepper.
Add the pieces of asparagus stalk, evenly.
Sprinkle the feta over.
Beat the eggs with salt and white pepper and pour into the pan.
Place the asparagus tips neatly. Sprinkle the Colby cheese on top.
Bake for 30 minutes or until a knife or skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean. Remove from the oven and let it stand for 5 minutes to firm up before serving. DM/TGIFood
Tony Jackman is Galliova Food Champion 2021. His book, foodSTUFF, is available in the DM Shop. Buy it here.
Follow Tony Jackman on Instagram @tony_jackman_cooks. Share your versions of his recipes with him on Instagram and he’ll see them and respond.
SUBSCRIBE to TGIFood here. Also visit the TGIFood platform, a repository of all of our food writing.

The former Pink Lady’s personal slow food revolution

Marloe Scott Wilson has a ‘farmette’ in Magoebaskloof in Limpopo where she grows all the herbs and vegetables she needs, and sources almost everything else locally. A fabulous example of someone who is living and loving the Slow Food style.
Many will remember Marloe Scott Wilson as the singer and actress dubbed the Pink Lady in the 80s. She had returned to South Africa after nearly a decade in the UK as a stage star, where her career highlight was playing the coveted role of Mary Magdalene in Jesus Christ Superstar. She had pink hair, pink eyebrows – yes, pink eyebrows – pink clothes and a pink Jeep and created a great stir everywhere she went.
It’s a long and lively story about how Marloe ended up here in Magoebaskloof on her farmette. We sit on a sunny porch surrounded by hanging pots, herbs and roses, sunflowers and solar fairy lights with a snuggly medley of rescue cats, dogs and horses. It involves love and living in Phalaborwa, of all places, for 18 years, before making her bid to be a self-sufficient mountain mama and a passionate proponent of slow food.
“Slow Food is the opposite of fast food,” explains Marloe as she places a fine, plump chicken on the kitchen table to prepare it for roasting. “The movement began in the late 80s in the small town of Bra near Piedmont in Italy, when a group of what I’d call culinary activists, led by Carlo Petrini, took huge exception to the proposed opening of a McDonald’s fast food outlet there. The area is especially famed for its cheese and cured meat, and they believed junk food would destroy their town’s ancient food culture and traditions.”
Petrini managed to stop the McDonald’s from opening and then founded the Slow Food movement which made it their mission to create global awareness around the relationship between plate and planet.
“Magoebaskloof became part of the Slow Food movement,” says Marloe, “when local farmers Nipper and Sylvi Thompson of Wegraakbosch Organic Farm took their homegrown cheese and chorizo to a food expo in Bra in 2016 and walked off with first prize. So they came home, started the Haenertsburg Slow Food chapter and spread the love. Their weekly organic veggie box deliveries are very much part of life on this mountain.
“The Slow Food movement,” she says, “promotes good, clean and fair food; ‘good’ meaning fresh and flavoursome, promoting regional ...

Throwback Thursday: Chocolate mousse

Rich, decadent and delectably moreish, a deeply flavoured chocolate mousse is a fine thing that has stood the test of time, not only decades but centuries, for very good reason.
A mousse is an odd thing. In a sense, it sort of cancels itself out. Essentially, it’s a dense foam. Dense. Foam. Two entirely different things. Yet they combine to work their sorcery to create one of the classics of the French kitchen. The oxymoron of desserts.
Dense: solid, holding itself firm, “closely compacted in substance”, according to; “containing a lot of matter in a small space” (Cambridge), adding, “plutonium is very dense”.
You don’t want your chocolate mousse to be as dense as plutonium.
Merriam-Webster describes dense as “Having parts that are gathered tightly together”. Collins: “Thickly crowded or closely set . thick; impenetrable”.
Yet, while a mousse is being quite as dense as all that, it also has to be a foam.
Foam: “A mass of small . bubbles” (Cambridge). “A light, frothy mass of fine bubbles” (Merriam-Webster). And Collins, somewhat alarmingly: “Something like foam, as the heavy sweat of horses, frothy saliva”.
We definitely don’t want our chocolate mousse to be anything like that.
The very word mousse means foam in France, where it first appeared in the 18th century. A perfect mousse, well executed, is a thing at odds with itself. It is trying to be two things at once, both dense and a foam, and it is the task or art of the chef or cook to achieve that, if there’s to be any point in making a mousse at all.
For many of us, the perfect chocolate mousse is the epitome of what a fine and decadent mousse can be; a pinnacle to be achieved. This is not to say that a divine savoury mousse, such as one that celebrates foie gras or truffle, cannot exceed the beauty and appeal of a dense chocolate “foam”. But I don’t see other sweet mousses such as strawberry, vanilla or lemon trouncing their rich chocolate cousin although, for me, lemon puts up a good argument for itself.
Britannica defines a mousse succinctly as a “mousse, savoury or sweet dish with the consistency of a dense foam, composed of a puréed chief ingredient mixed with stiffly beaten egg whites, whipped cream, or both”. Chocolate mousse, Britannica continues, “may be made from whipped cream or whipped egg whites, with the addition of bittersweet chocolate and sugar”.
What goes into ...

Going to the dogs at the dinner table

There is increasing evidence that dogs are taking over the world, and the world includes places where we eat food. Should dogs be allowed in the kitchen? At the table? In a restaurant? In a cafe? In a bar? In a world increasingly run by humans for dogs, exactly where do we draw the line?
I have a dog. Anyone who knows me knows I have a dog. Many people who don’t know me know I have a dog, because I never shut up about having a dog and will tell anyone within earshot. I talk about my dog a lot. I take photos and videos of her more than is strictly healthy; when I type “dog” into the Photos app on my phone, I get 4,572 results. I write stories about my dog for publications like Daily Maverick, which is widely read by people who are complete strangers to me and who may hate reading about my dog when they have come to their favourite website to read about – let me think. food?
Which brings me to the point, so don’t go anywhere just yet. I take my dog almost everywhere, and now I am bringing her to this column, and I promise you I have a point. This is where my dog and this column meet. To wit: the increasing evidence that dogs are taking over the world, and the world includes places where we eat food. Should dogs be allowed in the kitchen? At the table? In a restaurant? In a cafe? In a bar? In a world increasingly run by humans for dogs, exactly where do we draw the line?
It is a thriving area of debate in many parts of the world because in many cities there has been such an explosion in dog ownership that it is starting to seem compulsory to have one.
The Covid pandemic is partly to credit (or blame) for this.
In many countries, the extended lockdowns of 2020 and 2021 led to a boom in pet ownership. The figures don’t lie. In Australia, a 2021 study found that one million dogs had been brought into Australian homes in the previous 18 months covering the first year of the pandemic. (I was one of them; though that was because I mourned the loss of one dog and then got another in those terrible two years). There are roughly 25 million people in Australian, meaning ...

Richard Haigh’s connections with soil, animal and life

Richard Haigh delights in growing things: a fantastical medley of veg, a noisy menagerie of heritage-breed farm animals, his soil. He shares the bounty at monthly Enaleni Farm pop-ups. You like that succulent slice of pork? Come outside and meet its family.
The messages say, yes sure, I am welcome to come and experience “this type of madness”. That “we start milking at 7 o’clock; two goats and two cows. We stop for breakfast 9am to 9.30.” That he has arranged for a friend to come help with “the donkeys”. Around lunchtime he’ll do a bit of cooking prep. “I have an open day that’s fully booked and then an AGM I’m catering for.”
To get there, I should take the Richmond road off the N3 from Durban and “just after the chicken prison” (battery chickens) turn right. Up the hill. Right again. Then I’ll see the sign: Enaleni Farm.
A place this writer has wanted to visit for, goodness, 10 years. I see this from the August 2012 date on an email that pops up, having somehow archived itself through a couple of laptops. Curious and keen since then to hang out with Richard Haigh. Farmer, soil-nurturer, garden alchemist, solicitous “dad” to heritage chickens, pigs and Zulu sheep. “Midwife”, as needed, to happy cows and other expectant moms. Saver and rehabber of poached and abused donkeys.
Caring overseer in the relocation of Trouble (see Trouble and listen to the story here), a large spotted genet that stole and gobbled the head of one of Haigh’s prize show turkeys, taken by surprise while sitting on her eggs in a veggie patch two days after I was there.
Also cheesemaker. And cheese-making skill-sharer, via monthly classes, of feta, halloumi, ricotta, hard cheese, brie, sometimes labneh (a strained yoghurt cheese) and angazi (which, smile, translates from isiZulu as “I don’t know” and gives a glimpse of Haigh’s playful sense of humour). All these made with what he calls “the miracle of milk, which is so versatile” from Enaleni’s hand-milked cows and goats.
“There is something very special when you make your own cheese that comes from your cow that you’ve raised and you’ve milked by hand. There’s a very special connection. There is something I think very energetically deep in that.”
Many other things he is, too, the most relevant, here and now, being founder-farmer-chef-creator of Enaleni’s monthly “Eataleni” pop-up eating experiences. “Alternative”, he calls them and indeed they ...

What’s cooking today: Navel orange pudding

In the old kitchens of the Karoo, puddings were always made from scratch and with love, by hands that well understood the traditional implements of every farm kitchen.
Here’s an orange pudding to celebrate the end of the citrus season. This pudding makes its own sauce, like magic, while it cooks. It’s packed with orange flavour thanks to the use of plenty of zest.
The people at the big table in my Karoo kitchen loved it. Neville smiled and sighed with delight. Carl, who knows his puddings, tasted, beamed, eyes gleaming, and exclaimed, “Orange malva!” I’ll take that.
This recipe accompanies this column.
1¼ cups self raising flour, sifted
½ cup light brown sugar
Juice and grated zest of 3 navel oranges
½ cup full cream milk
1 extra large egg
50g butter, melted
1 tsp vanilla essence
½ cup of caster sugar
2 tsp cornflour
Preheat the oven to 180°C and grease a deep oven dish with butter.
Sift the flour into a large bowl and stir in the brown sugar and finely grated zest of two navel oranges (the rest is for later).
In a separate bowl, mix the milk and egg together and then slowly stir in the melted butter. Stir in the vanilla essence.
Stir this mixture into the first mixture and pour it into the greased dish.
Mix the caster sugar and cornflour together with the rest of the orange zest and sprinkle it over the top of the pudding.
Pour the orange juice over, carefully and evenly.
Bake in the preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes or until risen and golden.
Serve with whipped cream, and garnish with orange leaves or blossoms if in season (which they are right now.) DM/TGIFood
Tony Jackman is Galliova Food Champion 2021. His book, foodSTUFF, is available in the DM Shop. Buy it here.
Follow Tony Jackman on Instagram @tony_jackman_cooks. Share your versions of his recipes with him on Instagram and he’ll see them and respond.
SUBSCRIBE to TGIFood here. Also visit the TGIFood platform, a repository of all of our food writing.

The kitchen sanctuary where life is seasoned and savoured

My cook’s heart beats in my Karoo kitchen; my solace lies there, amid pots and pans and the echoes of life. In this new weekly column, let’s have adventures together in the spirit of the old kitchens.
There’s a table in the middle of my Karoo kitchen. It did not come easily to me. For years, even decades, we’d said, one day we’ll have a kitchen big enough to have a big table in it. And it needed to be old; to hold the memories of those whose elbows leaned on it in previous lives. There must be scars in its wood, the marks of others who ate their cereal there, scraped anchovy paste on their toast, slid spoons into soup bowls.
At one end of the table, “BP” is carved into the surface. At the opposite end, below the edge, is the legend ‘M.Y’. Remnants of past people. A boy, perhaps, inscribing the place where he ate his breakfast while his mom was packing his school lunch; or were they the initials of a girlfriend mom doesn’t know about yet. Can’t wait for second break to meet her at the big tree. Somebody absentmindedly doodling while fretting about a bad mistake, or reminiscing about a parent or aunt who died last year and wishing they could talk to her again, if just once.
The last thing I want to do is sand it or paint it. Its blemishes hold its stories. And stories are everything in life. Without them we are nothing. Our stories are happening around that table now; it’s our turn. We add our marks, enrich the table’s stories. Not intentionally; like life, it just happens, it unfolds before us.
We have friends around tonight. I’ve made something special, for they’ve been kind to us. The last three navel oranges of the tree we brought from Cape Town, the one I planted in a big pot in Tamboerskloof circa 2010 and which has trekked with us across the country, were picked on Thursday. I needed to show them some respect, to make something we’d remember.
I thought about it and then decided: the oranges would become a pudding; we’d sit around the big table and tell stories, add something to the memories in the old wood; and after the mutton, which I’d cook in a potjie for much of the day, and the pumpkin purée and the rosemary potato wedges I’d serve ...

What’s cooking today: Potjie-braised leg of mutton

I’ve been experimenting with roasting meat in a potjie since early lockdown. This one is more of a pot roast, with sun dried tomatoes and little pickling onions, a handful of sweet spices and my old standby of a cheeky splash of nagmaalwyn.
The first time I roasted something in a potjie was a whole chicken. It was such a success that I’ve done that a few ways since then, including my ginger roasted chicken in a potjie.
The other day I considered lamb; shanks in a potjie is of course a splendid thing. But then I spotted a small leg of mutton (technically, a part of a leg, obviously) and thought why not. Mutton, being from the older animal, needs plenty of time, so slow potjie cooking makes perfect sense.
I’ve roasted chicken potjie with thyme butter and lemon zest and, my favourite, ginger. Try the ginger recipe soon, it will give real zing to the start of spring.
3 Tbsp olive oil
1.6 kg leg of mutton
500 ml lamb or beef stock
2 heaped tsp ground coriander
1 heaped tsp ground cumin
1 heaped tsp ground fennel
1 piece of cassia bark
3 bay leaves
2 Tbsp light brown sugar
⅓ cup brown grape vinegar
2 Tbsp dark soy sauce
2 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
Salt to taste
Black pepper
16 pickling onions, blanched and skins removed
16 sun dried tomatoes
Another cup of lamb or beef stock
½ cup nagmaalwyn or other fortified wine
1 Tbsp cornflour dissolved in 2 Tbsp water
1 Tbsp hot English mustard
It goes without saying that you need to have a fire going with coals at hand and a clean potjie ready for your efforts.
Season the meat with salt. Put some coals under the potjie, pour in a little olive oil and, when it’s hot, brown the mutton leg on all sides.
Stir the spices into the stock and add the cassia bark, bay leaves, sugar, vinegar, soy sauce and chopped garlic. Season with salt and black pepper.
Pour the contents of the jug into the potjie, put the lid on, check the coals and put a few on the lid, and let it cook until it starts simmering, then let it simmer, lid on, for an hour.
Take the lid off, check that it is moist enough (moisten with more stock if not), and add the pickling onions and sun dried tomato. Leave it to cook, checking the coals regularly and keeping your fire going nearby, until the meat is tender. Check every now and ...

What’s cooking today: Fillet steak with burnt sage butter

Sage and butter are one of the wonders of the world of flavour; few ingredients work such magic together. Add a bit of burn and it becomes divine.
The trick with a burnt butter is to know – to smell – when it’s just right. It attains a caramelly aroma, a certain nuttiness; it’s that moment when you salivate and think, I’ve got to eat that now.
But burn doesn’t mean burn, strictly; it’s that point when the butter, on a low heat, has started to burn, turned a (yes, caramel) hue, but beyond which you risk actually burning it and it taking on a charred flavour, which means you’ve gone too far. Leave the char for the meat on the grill or in the skillet. That’s good char. It’s a question of balance, as with so many things in the kitchen.
With this recipe, cook the steak to your liking, and finish it off with the delicious delight that is burnt sage butter. Of course, you can ignore the steak altogether and serve the sauce with grilled chicken, pork or even a hearty, firm fish such as kingklip or dorado. Burnt sage butter is also a winner with pasta parcels such as ravioli or tortellini.
(Recipe per 1 portion, so multiply as needed)
1 x 300 g fillet steak
12 sage leaves, chopped
4 Tbsp butter
Salt to taste
Black pepper
Sage leaves for garnish
Melt butter on a very low heat, add the chopped sage leaves, and let it cook very, very gently while the butter takes on the flavour of the sage. When the butter starts foaming, continue to cook, swirling the pan often. Season lightly with salt and black pepper.
Watch while the butter takes on colour, and identify that point when it is just right. Take it off the heat.
When your steak is cooked (or whatever you’re serving the sauce with), you can either remove the steak from the pan, add the burnt sage butter and quickly scrape up the flavour morsels at the bottom of the pan, or keep the sauce pure and serve it directly on the steak on the plate.
Sometimes a steak is better served with the sauce napped, in other words to one side and not covering the entire cut of meat, but with this sauce it’s best to smother it all over. Have some sage leaves to hand for garnish. DM/TGIFood
Tony Jackman is Galliova Food Champion 2021. His book, foodSTUFF, is available ...

What’s cooking today: Pappardelle with broccoli and peas

Pappardelle are the broad pasta strips, more substantial than the slimmer tagliatelle and a good choice for a pasta sauce that needs something to cling to. Don’t we all.
With many pasta recipes that call for this or that style of noodle, whether linguine, tagliatelle, pappardelle or, for that matter, small pieces such as farfalle or penne, it’s moot as to whether you should feel you have to strictly make the dish with only that specific type of noodle.
So of course you could substitute tagliatelle or penne rigate for the pappardelle, though I would steer clear of the slender pastas such as linguine or spaghetti; the peas in particular need a friend to canoodle with. Put it that way.
Key to this recipe is how to prepare the broccoli. My recipe calls only for the tiny buds; that is, the tiny parts of the floret. I’ll add a photograph below to show what I mean. You just hold each whole floret on a board and cut off the tiny buds, discarding the remnants of the stem. You only need the buds and peas to make up the substantial part of the sauce.
This is a creamy sauce thanks to the crème fraîche, but you will need to use pasta water in the sauce too, as without it the crème fraîche will make it rather claggy. I used as many as six ladles of pasta water to finish off the sauce and get it to the right consistency, but only add one at a time and stop adding any when the consistency of the sauce is to your liking.
(Serves 2)
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 fat garlic cloves, finely chopped
3 Tbsp olive oil
200 ml dry white wine
250 g pappardelle, boiled until al dente, and drained (but reserve the pasta water)
100 g broccoli florets, finely chopped
120 g frozen peas
50 g Grana Padano cheese, grated
Extra Grana Padano to grate on top when serving
250 g crème fraîche
Salt and white pepper to taste
Pasta water as needed
Bring a big pot of water to the boil, ready for the pasta.
Sauté onions and garlic in olive oil, then add white wine and reduce by half. Add the peas and broccoli, season with salt and white pepper, stir, put the lid on and let it simmer on a low heat for 5 minutes.
Stir in the grated Grana Padano and the crème fraîche and simmer for a minute or two.
Cook the pasta till al ...

Klein Karoo slow fare and tales at the bar

Life’s stories unfold in these small towns, where you can learn how to cook venison in a potjie, hike in velvet green, and throw caution to the winds, just a little.
Everyone knows that stories and gossip are the lifeblood of small towns, and Barrydale is no exception. Where better for these tales to coalesce and grow tails than at the town’s nerve centre? At the Karoo Art Hotel’s dusky, wood panelled bar, between sips of locally-distilled tipple (Heerlik Brandy and Joseph Barry Muscat) a tapestry of truth stranger than fiction emerged.
There’s the brotherly rivalry of two male residents with oddly similar haircuts, think Cain and Abel of the Bible. To add fuel to fire, both men lay claim to playing the guitar – and all this came to a head when they shared a house during lockdown.
Other conversational touchstones were a local businessman said to have smuggled cocaine in from Worcester, a pet monkey aged 31, and skinny-dipping in mountain pools alongside the nearby Tradouw Pass, a geological wonderland of exposed, layered rock. Tradouw means “way of the women”, derived from the Khoi “tra” for women and “dau” for way through.
Behind the hotel bar, a former bodyguard to Patricia de Lille, Helen Zille and Michael Jackson related anecdotes, while a manager gestured to the in-house musician to pipe down as an upstairs room had complained. The musician continued singing covers, saying his instruction had been to create “a vibe”.
I lifted a log into the corner fireplace, pausing to pat a dog. At the next table, a couple deep into a bottle of red said they were from Cape St Francis, on their way to Cape Town. This is where they met years back – in Sea Point – where she worked in the pharmacy off Glengariff. They’d been married for 40 years, they said, their tones implying neither celebration nor lament. At night-end, he gently pushed her out of the room in a wheelchair.
Oscar Wilde said moderation is a fatal thing – nothing succeeds like excess. On this trip to Barrydale, we decided to give moderation a wide berth, instead meeting excess with excess. An astute friend once remarked: “More is more.” (Not to be confused with the Afrikaans, “môre is môre”.) The goal for the weekend was to savour improbable amounts of slow-cooked fare, offset by brisk footsteps in winter-cloaked nature. You know: calorie neutral.
Kindly, a hotel employee offered ...

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