On September 24, South Africa celebrates National Heritage Day. Heritage Day is a public holiday where South Africa acknowledges the painful past of the country and celebrates the diversity of cultures, traditions and heritages.
Heritage Day has become synonymous with great traditional food in South Africa. Food is a huge part of any culture and this is especially true in SA, where there is such a diversity of cultures.
To help celebrate this special month, Nandile Mtshaha has shared below her tasty Rooibos-infused spicy chicken feet recipe that home cooks can try.
On Valentine’s Day in 2001, Mtshaha’s mother was hospitalised, and it was left up to the young nine-year-old and her older sister Thobeka to make dinner for their father.
Mtshaha said it was their first attempt at cooking, and despite the fact that they were determined to make her dad the type of hearty meal her mother would have cooked, what they dished up for him was terrible.
“The salad I made resembled what we call ushatini (salsa), but it had green peppers and fish spice added to it and did not taste very nice. My dad would ask me to make that salad almost every week.
“We all knew it wasn’t great, but because of that salad and because my dad asked for it regularly, my love for cooking and preparing dishes developed, and I started to learn how to balance textures and the importance of having side dishes that didn’t take the shine off the main course,” she said.
At 17, Mtshaha started her own small business selling home-made muffins at school, and even though it broke school rules, the support she got from her peers and her teachers boosted her confidence in the kitchen.
“My home economics teacher spoke to me about enrolling at a culinary school, and thank goodness she did because I had no idea what I wanted to do after leaving school.
“Since then, I have not looked back, and today, I am delighted to be able to share my knowledge with young aspiring chefs,” she said.
Now a lecturer at Capsicum Culinary Studio’s Durban campus, Mtshaha said she strives to inspire her students to go out into the industry knowing what to expect.
“I want to equip them with the right knowledge as well as the right mindset to cope with everything they will come across in the hospitality industry. I teach them discipline and how to be authentic,” she added.
Rooibos-infused spicy chicken feet
3kg chicken feet, cleaned
1 tbsp olive oil
4 onions, finely chopped
1 green pepper, finely chopped
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tbsp of Kashmiri paste
1 sachet of tomato paste
1 tbsp of garlic powder
1 tbsp of onion powder
1 tsp of garum masala
1 tsp of chilli powder
1 tbsp of wet masala curry powder
4 cups rooibos tea
Salt and pepper to taste
Fresh coriander, chopped (for garnish)
Pour the olive oil into a large saucepan over medium heat and sauté the onions until translucent.
Add the garlic and peppers and stir until soft.
Add all the spices and pastes and cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring to combine.
Add the chicken feet and stir.
Once the chicken feet have browned, add the rooibos tea, reduce the heat, and simmer until the liquid has reduced slightly and the chicken feet are cooked.
Taste and season accordingly.
Garnish with fresh coriander and serve with ujeqe (steamed bread) or isigwaqane (maize meal and red beans).