It is National Women’s Day on Thursday, so we felt a special meal was in order as a tribute to women. We asked Dorah Sitole, a notable SA foodie, to devise it.
Dorah has many accolades to her name including being awarded the inaugural SA Chefs President’s Award for her contribution to the country’s hospitality industry in 2006.
This former market researcher from Soweto was introduced to the world of food when she went to work for what was known as the canned food advisory service.
It was there that her passion for cooking developed, and she enjoyed the different aspects of the job such as contributing to food pages and teaching.
Then Dorah joined True Love magazine as food editor where she stayed for 21 years. She now freelances as a food writer, food stylist, recipe developer and teacher.
Dorah has travelled widely in Africa and is the country’s foremost expert on African cuisine. Every area on the continent has its specific key ingredients, she says, but garlic, ginger and chillies feature prominently throughout Africa as do spices such as cayenne pepper, cumin, coriander and turmeric.
Of these, it is ginger and garlic, along with butter and olive oil, that she can’t live without.
Dorah also believes that true African cooking has never been given a chance or been taken seriously and throughout her career she has striven to bring this cuisine to the fore.
“African cooking has also changed over the past decade, with people moving to cities where more convenient and new ingredients have been introduced to traditional cuisine,” she says.
Of all the countries she has visited, Dorah loved Zanzibar where she found the food awesome and the people kind and welcoming.
When Dorah arrived at the Angela Day Kitchen with her daughter Phumzile it was clear that each had great admiration for the other’s cooking. Dorah tells me her daughter is a good baker and that the cheesecake we were preparing is normally her domain.
Phumzile in turn raves about her mom’s fish curry, which is one of her favourite dishes. When cooking for her family Dorah tends to cook more homely comforting dishes but when entertaining she loves pushing the boundaries by experimenting with different flavours.
Dorah will be spending Women’s Day at home with her family where they will enjoy a relaxed meal she will prepare.
Dorah shared these four recipes with me. After trying a piece of the cheesecake, I have to admit it is one of the nicest I have ever tasted.
1 onion, chopped
1 carrot, diced
1 stick of celery, diced
1 potato, peeled and diced
1 leek, sliced
500g diced pumpkin
5ml curry powder
salt and pepper to taste
1 litre of vegetable stock
30ml pumpkin seeds, toasted
Sauté onions in butter until soft, add carrots, celery, potato and leeks, then cook for 5 minutes.
Add pumpkin, curry powder and seasoning, fill the pot with vegetable stock, bring to the boil and turn heat down to a slow simmer.
Allow to cook for about 20 minutes until pumpkin is soft. Use a stick blender to blend until smooth. To create desired consistency, you may need to add some more stock or allow to reduce a bit for a thicker winter soup.
Stir in the cream and serve sprinkled with toasted pumpkin seeds.
EAST AFRICAN FISH CURRY
500g hake or Cape whiting steaks
2 red onions, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
15ml grated ginger
2 chillies, chopped
15ml curry powder
45ml curry paste
65g can of tomato paste
4 tomatoes, peeled and chopped
6 curry leaves, optional
250ml coconut cream
coriander for garnishing
Heat oil and brown the fish steaks on each side for about 5 minutes. Remove and keep warm.
Add onions, garlic, ginger and chillies to pan and sauté until onions are soft.
Add curry powder, curry paste and turmeric and cook for 5 minutes.
Add remaining ingredients, except coriander, and simmer gently for 10 minutes.
Return fish steaks to sauce, bring to boil and then turn down heat and simmer gently for 10-15 minutes until the fish is cooked.
Gently fold through coriander leaves.
Serve with Basmati rice.
GREEN BEANS WITH ASPARAGUS AND MUSHROOMS
200g green beans, topped and tailed
125g asparagus, trimmed
125ml vegetable stock
250g button mushrooms, halved
400g can of chickpeas, drained
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
30ml olive oil
chopped fresh herbs
Place green beans and asparagus in a pan, add stock and bring to boil, then simmer covered until vegetables are tender.
Stir in mushrooms, continue to simmer until just tender. Add chickpeas and seasoning. Heat through.
Place on a warm serving dish and drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with herbs just before serving.
BAKED CHEESECAKE WITH BERRIES
200g plain biscuits, crushed
125g butter, melted
500g creamed cottage cheese
30ml lemon juice
10ml custard powder
pinch of salt
250ml crème fraiche
15ml castor sugar
berries to decorate
Mix biscuit crumbs, cinnamon and sugar together. Add the butter and mix well.
Press into a well greased, 20cm loose-bottomed cake tin. Chill well.
Beat cottage cheese and eggs together and gradually beat in the sugar. Add the cream and lemon juice and beat well.
Add flour, custard powder and salt and beat well. Pour into biscuit base.
Bake at 180°C for 30 minutes, then turn down the temperature to 150°C and bake for a further 30 minutes.
Allow to cool completely in the tin.
Remove from tin and, when ready to serve, spread with crème fraiche and top with berries.