When Zenande Mfenyana, 26, landed the role of Noluntu Memela in Generations, South Africa’s longest running soap opera, last year, she felt she had found her true calling in life.
I asked Zenande, who studied drama at Pretoria University, how different her own personality is to that of the character she plays.
“Noluntu is a spoilt trust-fund kid who can’t identify with poverty,” she replied, “but my parents taught me that you have to work hard to achieve your goals in life and I wasn’t brought up with a silver spoon in my mouth.”
Although Zenande’s mother lives in Queenstown, she was inspired to cook a three-course meal in her honour at the Angela Day cookery school in Johannesburg.
Zenande arrived full of enthusiasm and couldn’t wait to get her apron on and start cooking.
She loves cooking and has been doing so from a very young age.
She recalled that the first dish she ever helped her mom cook was rice.
“I like to add a twist to the dishes I cook,” she said. “That is why I add a can of chickpeas to my stir fry and pureed pear to the Malva pudding.”
With a hectic working schedule, Zenande tries to follow a healthy diet.
Keeping in shape is very important to her. “I would hate to upset the wardrobe mistress by putting on a few kilos,” she joked.
When I asked her what she usually eats for the day, she said: “I always have a good breakfast, then pack a selection of healthy snacks, such as dried fruit or rice crackers, to nibble on. The crew get a cooked lunch served to them on set and in the evening I just have a light snack.”
Looking at her slim figure, I asked if she ever eats dessert. “I will happily skip a course so I can enjoy dessert,” she replied.
Zenande loves cooking for her friends and entertains often.
Her favourite ingredient to cook with is pasta.
Roasted butternut soup with croutons
Tikka masala chicken stir fry with basmati rice
Pear malva pudding
Roasted butternut soup
1 butternut, halved and seeded
2-3 cloves of garlic
2 onions, quartered
salt and pepper
a drizzle of olive oil
500-750ml vegetable stock
1 bay leaf
4ml brown sugar
5ml medium curry powder
3ml dried oregano
3ml ground cinnamon
2ml ground nutmeg
250ml plain yoghurt
60ml chopped parsley
2-3 slices of white bread
oil for frying
Place the butternut halves and garlic in a large saucepan and cover with boiling water. Simmer for about 20-30 minutes until tender. Remove and place them in an oven roasting pan. Add the onions.
Season well and drizzle with olive oil. Roast at 180°C for 20-30 minutes until the flesh is very soft. Remove and cool slightly.
Scoop out the flesh and place it in a food processor. Puree until smooth. Add enough stock to achieve a nice soupy consistency.
Transfer the mixture into a saucepan. Add the bay leaf, sugar, curry, oregano and spices. Season well and simmer for 5-10 minutes.
Remove the bay leaf. Stir in the yoghurt and parsley and serve with a handful of croutons.
CROUTONS: Tear white bread into rough pieces and fry in oil until golden brown. Drain on paper towel.
Chicken tikka stir fry
500g chicken breast fillets
15ml tikka masala paste
30ml olive oil
1 onion, peeled and sliced
1 carrot, peeled and cut into julienne strips
100g butternut cut into julienne strips
1 red pepper, cut into julienne strips
1 green pepper, cut into julienne strips
400g can of chickpeas, drained
30ml soy sauce
coriander for serving
500ml cooked basmati rice for serving
Cut the chicken into strips.
Place in a bowl and add the masala paste. Mix until the chicken is well coated. Set aside for 15 minutes.
Heat the oil and fry the chicken strips until browned. Add the onion, carrot and butternut and fry for 5 minutes.
Add the peppers and chickpeas and fry for another 5-10 minutes until the vegetables are cooked.
Stir in the soy sauce and season to taste. Sprinkle with coriander. Stir the chopped parsley into the cooked rice and serve with the chicken.
Pear malva pudding
250ml castor sugar
310ml cake flour
5ml bicarbonate of soda
15ml smooth apricot jam
2 pears, peeled, boiled and puréed
Beat the eggs and sugar until thick and foamy. Sift the flour, bicarbonate of soda and salt.
Melt the butter in a small saucepan and add the vinegar, milk and jam. Mix until smooth.
Stir the dry ingredients and milk mixture into the beaten egg and mix until smooth. Add pears and mix. Pour the mixture into a greased ovenproof baking dish.
Cover the dish with foil and bake at 180°C for 30 minutes.
Remove the foil and bake for another 10 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the pudding comes out clean.
Remove from the oven and pour over the hot sauce. Serve with whipped cream or custard.
SAUCE: Combine all the ingredients in a small pot and bring to the boil. Simmer for 2 minutes. Pour over the pudding when it comes out of the oven.
* If the pears are very ripe and juicy then just purée them without boiling. Only if they are hard is it necessary to boil them. Serves 4-6.