Many years ago I set up a meeting with the Eziko Cooking School & Restaurant in Langa Township in Cape Town. Here I met with Victor, founder of the Eziko Cooking School and his Mamma – Lindy – who was Head Chef of the restaurant. The aim of my visit was to try and find a way that foreign foodies could experience our African cuisine. Little did I know that this would be the start of something so much bigger. They were both completely open to me bringing foreigners in to come and do hands on cooking of the African cuisine. We discussed what people would cook and Mamma Lindy was insistent that they would need to cook tripe as it is a favourite in our black communities. I shuddered – have any of you every smelt tripe cooking? We settled on preparing the basics – Pap (eaten by most of the country), Samp & Beans (eaten by the Xhosa of the Cape), Nyama (Meat – a meal is never complete in African culture without meat!!), chakalaka (a fab spicy relish served in many variations across South Africa) and a token veg dish (spinach & cabbage being the local favourite and an unusual combination for most of us!).
Through visiting the Eziko family they were to become my friends and part of my extended family. I have become a part of their team. The visits by foreigners mean that the money goes towards running their school where they teach youngsters to get the basic skills to become chefs. It leaves a footprint at the school. The cooking classes were to become a lesson in African Culture and not just a cooking class. My family shares their proud Xhosa culture with visitors, they share their stories, they share the hardships of growing up in the Apartheid South Africa and they share their hopes for the future and for the future generations. Most of all they share their warmth and each time I return I feel like I am returning to family. Mamma Lindy is my hero. She is a passionate foodie who loves nothing more then heading to the big city lights for a cappuccino or to Kalk Bay for fish & chips. She has had to fight hard as a single mommy with three kids under the Apartheid system and has come out strong and filled with a love of life and its finer things! Today Mamma Lindy is retired, but she returns to the school when we have bookings to share some of her favourite recipes.
UMNGQUSHO (Samp and Beans Recipe)
Rinse the dried samp and beans thoroughly with water. Add roughly double the amount of water to the samp and beans. Cook for three hours on low heat stirring occasionally. Make sure that there is enough water while cooking – you may need to add a little water. When it is soft, add salt, stir in and serve. Note that this dish is served as the “starch” with a meal – similar to pasta or rice – it needs a sauce or a stew with it to taste good! This dish is the staple dish of the Xhosa tribe of South Africa – they eat it for breakfast, lunch & dinner. The Xhosa’s believe that it keeps hunger away as it takes a long time to digest and gives you energy to work during the day.
LAMB OR BEEF CASSEROLE
Rinse the lamb/beef. Peel potatoes and cut into quarters. Leave the potatoes aside in a bowl of water for use later.
In a pot add 2 tsp of cooking oil (on low heat), add a chopped onion, a chopped green pepper, 2 tsp of sugar, a beef stock cube (add the whole cube on its own). Stir until the onions are soft. Add 2 TBS Mrs Balls Chutney (this chutney is a favourite in South Africa), a pinch of salt, 2 TBS tomato paste, a sprinkle of Ina Parmens lemon pepper (Mamma Lindy’s favourite and she uses it in everything she cooks!), cook for a further 3 minutes and then add the lamb. It can be any cut of lamb – but preferably should be a cut on the bone to add extra flavour to the stew. Add 1 TBS of water. Leave it to cook with the lid on for around half an hour – stir occasionally. Then add the potatoes once the lamb is cooked. Cook until the potatoes are soft.
UMFINO (Traditional Spinach and Cabbage Dish)
Chop one onion and chop equal amounts of spinach and cabbage.
Add 2 tsp oil to a frying pan. Add the onion. Cook until soft. Add the spinach and the cabbage to the pan. Put the lid on and cook until soft, but not soggy! (However el dente would be definitely out of the question! It must be cooked!)
CHAKALAKA (Spicy relish eaten with a traditional African Meal)
Add 2 tsp oil to a frying pan. Add one chopped onion, one chopped green pepper, 2 tsp sugar and stir. Add 2tsp vinegar (white or brown), stir, add 2 tsp Rajah curry powder, 1 tsp Masala (spices), stir, add one large chopped tomato, stir, add 3 grated carrots, 2 TBS Mrs Balls Chutney, stir, then add 2 more tsp’s of vinegar, a pinch of salt, stir, add a little water – about 50ml, then add about a quarter sliced cabbage. Cook until tender. Note any leftover veg in the house can be added to the chakalaka! This recipe is used to use up all left over veg in your fridge. Everyone’s recipe is different and there is a wide range of Chakalaka’s out there ranging from mild to firey hot!
PAP (African dish made from ground maize) – Porridge
Boil up four cups of water
Separately, take two cups of maize meal (Iwisa/Star pap) and add some cold water to make a watery paste – stir or use a whisk to make sure there are no lumps.
When the water is boiling, add the paste and stir continuously until it is thick.
Cover and cook for 15 minutes.
This dish is the staple of all the tribes in South Africa (with exception of the Xhosa who eat Samp or Samp & Beans as their staple). As you cross our border you will find the same dish with different names. Once again this is the starch basis of the meal and you would serve it with a sauce or with a saucy stew.
Thank you Mamma Lindy for sharing your recipes and for teaching so many visitors to the Cape not only about your cuisine, but also about your culture and your traditions. Thank you for so many visits. Thank you for your passion, your laughter and the warm welcome that everyone who enters into the world of Eziko gets. They may enter as strangers, but they leave with kisses and cuddles as friends.
Update March 2019 – we are discontinuing offering our African Cooking Tour