A new English-language cookbook by Sharon Lurie landed on my desk recently: A Taste of South Africa with the Kosher Butcher’s Wife. The book was sent to me by the author, the wife of the title. This full-length photo album with recipes is Sharon’s third book, a 224-page paperback available through Amazon.
South African cooking features a variety of colors and flavors, what we call “fusion cuisine.” It was created by a melting pot of cultures that include Dutch, British and African along with characteristics of Indonesia and India. Thus, a diverse and rich local cuisine has been created. Based on all this wealth and the rich traditional Jewish cuisine on which the author grew up, she decided to create dishes that are a combination of Jewish and South African cuisine, while keeping everything kosher.
It is a kitchen as diverse as the population in it, created from a combination of immigrant and local cultures with all their rich fragrances and flavors, from which Sharon developed her own interpretation.
The book contains main and side dishes and, of course, a recipe for making dried, cured meat – biltong. The author also includes a variety of salads and gluten-free dishes.
From the abundance of the book, I chose some dishes that will cater to the warmer days of summer and pique your curiosity for this special cuisine.
If you do not have vanilla pudding, you can substitute corn flour.
Tea extracts and other flavors can be used where flavors in the recipes cannot be found.
VANILLA & CINNAMON TEA COMPOTE
WITH YOGURT & BRÛLÉE TOPPING
My mother was famous for her vanilla and cinnamon tea compote with yogurt and brûlée topping. It was so delicious that it became known as “Jill’s bestest breakfast” with which to break fast at the end of Yom Kippur. Not only is it delicious, but healthy and comforting, too. There is always some in our fridge.
2 vanilla-flavored tea bags (e.g. Twinings)
1 apple, cinnamon and raisin tea bag
2 cups boiling water
1 kg. assorted dried fruit (your favorites)
2 heaping tsp. custard powder
4 cups cranberry or pomegranate juice
2 cups full-cream Greek yogurt
¼ cup brown sugar
Allow the tea bags to draw in the boiling water. Squeeze the bags to ensure maximum flavors are released, then discard the bags.
Place the fruit in a large saucepan and cover with the brewed tea. Bring to a boil, then turn down the heat and simmer for 30 minutes.
Mix the custard powder in the cranberry or pomegranate juice, then add to the fruit. Allow to simmer for a few minutes until the sauce thickens slightly. Don’t stir too much as the fruit will break up. Remove from heat and leave to cool.
Once cool, cover the fruit mixture with the yogurt and sprinkle with sugar. Either brûlée with a blow torch or place under the griller until golden-brown and bubbling.
GOING NUTS GRANOLA
(with gluten-free option)
Makes: 1-1.5 kg.
1 cup roughly chopped cashew nuts
1 cup roughly chopped hazelnuts or pecans
½ cup slivered almonds
1 cup desiccated coconut
1 cup rolled oats OR cooked quinoa (as a gluten-free substitute)
3 Tbsp. melted coconut oil
¼ cup honey (possibly a little extra)
¼ cup brown sugar
1 pinch salt
1 cup cranberries or seedless raisins (optional)
Preheat the oven to 160°C (320°F).
Combine all ingredients, except the cranberries or raisins, until well mixed and coated. Spread onto a baking tray and shake the tray to space the ingredients evenly.
Bake for about 40 minutes or until golden brown. I usually remove the granola from the oven after 20 minutes, toss it a bit so it doesn’t clump together, and return it to the oven to continue baking.
Once toasted to the perfect crunch, toss and allow to cool. Add the cranberries or raisins (if using) and shake once more. Store in an airtight container.
PAMPOENMOES (PUMPKIN BABKA)
Pumpkin is one of South Africa’s favorite vegetables. Most restaurants serve pumpkin and spinach as vegetable side dishes with main meals. This recipe is an infusion of two cultures: a traditional Jewish pumpkin kugel with traditional South African pumpkin bread pudding, known as pampoenmoes. Even those who generally don’t like pumpkin often make an exception for this delicious dish.
1 kg. pumpkin, cubed (2 cm. x 2cm.)
Butter or margarine for spreading
8 slices cinnamon babka or bread, sliced 1 cm. thick and crusts removed
¼ cup brown sugar
2 tsp. ground cinnamon (4 tsp. if using plain bread instead of cinnamon babka)
½ tsp. ground cardamom
½ tsp. ground ginger
2 cups “lite” coconut milk or soy milk
1 cup water
Preheat the oven to 170°C (340°F). Grease an oven-proof dish.
Boil the pumpkin until soft. Mash lightly with a fork (it still needs a little texture).
Lightly butter both sides of the bread, then slice into 2 cm. cubes. Mix the sugar and cinnamon together. Arrange a layer of buttered bread in the dish, then follow with a layer of pumpkin. Sprinkle liberally with the cinnamon-sugar mixture. Repeat, ending with a final layer of bread.
Beat the eggs, milk and water together and pour over the pumpkin and bread layers. Allow the bread to absorb the custard mixture, pressing it down with the back of a spoon.
Bake in the oven until the dish starts to bubble and the top is crispy, but not burnt (25–30 minutes).
Serve as a side dish to meat.