Benny Masekwameng has a smile that will melt your heart and, boy, can he cook too.
The Masterchef SA judge and executive chef at Sun Square Montecasino hotel’s MondoVino restaurant in Johannesburg, loves bold flavours and colours and uses these to showcase different ingredients.
I asked him to share some of his favourite recipes with readers and he came up with some punchy hot and spicy dishes.
PIQUANTE PEPPER CHAKALAKA
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
15ml hot curry powder
5ml ground coriander
1 carrot, peeled and grated
5ml tomato paste
2 tomatoes, peeled and grated
80g sweet piquante peppers, chopped
400g can of baked beans
half a bunch of fresh coriander, roughly chopped
Sauté the onion and garlic in oil in a pan. Add the curry powder, turmeric and ground coriander.
Add the carrot and braise till soft. Add the tomato paste and stir through the mixture then add the tomatoes and simmer for 8-10 minutes.
Add the peppers and the baked beans and cook for 8 minutes.
Lastly add the fresh coriander and remove from heat and place in serving dish.
Serve with grilled T-bone steak.
* Piquante peppers are sold under the brand name of Peppadews
BRAISED SPINACH WITH BUTTERNUT, CHILLI AND CASHEW NUTS
50ml olive oil
2 onions, sliced
5ml chopped garlic
2 bunches of spinach, cleaned and chopped
150g butternut, cubed
250ml vegetable or chicken stock
3-4 chillies, chopped
100g ground cashew nuts
ground black pepper
In a large pot, heat the oil, add the onions and sweat for 2 minutes. Add the garlic, spinach, butternut and stock and let the spinach boil down for 10-15 minutes.
Add the chillies, ground nuts and cream, mix for about 3-5 minutes until well blended. Season and serve.
ROASTED BUTTERNUT AND COCONUT CREAM SOUP
1kg butternut, cubed
salt and pepper
5ml ground cinnamon
50ml cooking oil
75g butter, cubed
2 onions, finely chopped
5ml crushed garlic
5ml chopped red chilli
1 litre of chicken stock
400g can of coconut cream
Place butternut in roasting pan, season with salt, pepper and cinnamon and sprinkle with oil. Mix well to coat with the oil and seasoning. Roast in the oven at 180°C for 25-30 minutes. Remove from the oven.
In a large pot over medium heat melt the butter, add onion and garlic and sauté until onions are soft. Add the roasted butternut and all the juices in the pan. Add the chilli and coriander, mix well and add the stock.
Bring to the boil and let it simmer for 20 minutes.
Add the coconut cream and simmer for a further 5 minutes.
Remove from heat and puree in a blender until smooth.
Serve in a bowl, with garlic croutons if desired.
GRILLED CHICKEN AND CALAMARI WITH LIME, CHILLI AND CORIANDER CREAM SAUCE
2 large potatoes, skin on, cut into wedges
pinch of grated nutmeg
15ml cake flour, for dusting
60ml fresh breadcrumbs
45ml olive oil
2 chicken breasts with skin and bone
200g small calamari tubes, cleaned
30ml lemon juice
Lime chilli and coriander cream sauce
1 onion, very finely chopped
1 fresh chilli, very finely chopped
30ml fresh coriander, very finely chopped
125ml fresh cream
15ml lime or lemon juice
Blanch the potato wedges for 5 minutes in a pot of salted boiling water.
Drain, season and dust with the nutmeg and flour, then roll in the breadcrumbs.
Place in a baking dish, drizzle with oil and bake in a preheated oven at 180°C for 20-30 minutes until crispy.
Season the chicken breasts and cook on both sides in a hot, lightly oiled griddle pan until cooked through.
In a clean pan, heat the butter and fry the calamari with the lemon juice for no more than 3 minutes.
SAUCE: Heat the butter in a pan and sweat the onion until soft. Stir in the chilli and coriander.
Add the cream and cook until the sauce is thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon. Stir in the lime or lemon juice.
Arrange the potato wedges, calamari and chicken on plates, pour over the sauce or serve it separately in a bowl. - The Star