CHRISTMAS is just about two weeks away which means it’s time to start planning that perfect holiday menu.

CHRISTMAS is just about two weeks away which means it’s time to start planning that perfect holiday menu. 

We spoke to Sherwyn Weaich and Joani Mitchell and the executive chef at Garden Court Marine Parade, Qhawe Tshabalala, about Durban’s famous Christmas dishes.  

Tshabalala said Durban is a city that celebrates family and the togetherness that a home cooked hearty meal provides. He said, at the hotel, it prides itself on its Golden Mile Oxtail served with dumplings. “Durban’s famous curry is a must for Christmas lunch. 

To be honest, Christmas lunch would be incomplete without old-time classics such as Beef Wellington, turkey and gammon, with all the trimmings including beautifully roasted potatoes, crackling and cranberry sauce, and not forgetting the hearty gravy.

“Dessert must include traditional Christmas pies accompanied with vanilla ice cream and or custard. Trifle is a dessert that takes us on a journey to our childhood days and goes down on a hot balmy day in Durban”, said Tshabalala. 

Chocolate pudding.

He said these are loved over Christmas as they always take you “home” wherever you are. Weaich said Durban is a melting pot of flavours and cultures and is also the spice capital of Africa. So knowing his fellow Durban and kasi people spicy meat is the in thing when it comes to Christmas in the city despite the heat outside.  

“Beef and lamb are favourites with chicken being a staple in every home in Durban, but I prefer desserts. I am a sucker for original moist Christmas pudding, soaked in brandy or whisky, filled with fruits”, he said. 

Former MasterChef South Africa contestant and private chef, Mitchell, says she’s noticed that people are choosing a more fuss-free Christmas. “It seems that a lot of people are choosing to have less formal Christmas meals and rather opting for ‘harvest table’ and ‘ bring and braai” style festive menus.

 “However, there are still a ton of people, including me, who feel the need to celebrate the birth of Christ in a grand traditional way. I love the laying of the table, the Christmas carols and all the vibe that goes with this time of year,” she said. 

Gammon glazed with honey.

On what KwaZulu-Natal people normally have for Christmas, she strongly believes that most still go for the traditional Christmas lunch. “I think that in most homes, the staple menu still consists of the traditional proteins mainly basted gammon and stuffed turkey with each family adding their own heritage meals such as amadumbe, curries, Mediterranean side dishes or pastas, depending on their cultural background. 

“On the dessert front, I think the standard pavlovas, trifles, mince pies and the traditional fruitcake are still among the most popular, especially as they are simple to make.”