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Pots with passports

A GUIDE TO TRAVELLING THE WORLD FROM YOUR KITCHEN

We’ve all been there, stuck at home while all your friends are off on their annual pilgrimage to Porto or Palermo or Phuket, nostalgic for that time you wandered the streets of Seminyak, wondering what that smell was but not really caring, because you were somewhere no one knew your name and you could be whoever you wanted to be. It’s true that few things broaden the mind quite like travel, but more important than the ability to jet set around the world is having an enquiring mind. Think of all those people who get back from a trip without being able to tell you anything about it. One of food’s greatest superpowers is its ability to turn itself into an experience. It’s not just about the look, flavour and texture a dish, but its smell transports us to its place of origin. Short of the real thing, here’s a guide to being a food tourist from the comfort of your own home.

Over the years, I’ve done a lot of travelling from my kitchen as I either reminisced about places I’d been or places I wanted to visit, many of which I’ve shared with you, but never in one go. Going through my recipes in compiling a menu for every region my team and I have covered has been so much fun, so let’s dive right in.

SOUTH AFRICA

As you might have guessed, this compilation of recipes isn’t only for South Africans. But when last have you made something truly South African? Rediscovering your own culinary treasures can be just as much fun as exploring the culture and cuisine of other countries.

LAMB BRIYANI 

You don’t get more South African than a dish that celebrates all of our heritage. Some dishes are so established that they defy tradition. Sometimes, there simply isn’t just one way to make it. When it comes to Briyani, especially, there are hundreds of ways to make it. If you’re not using lamb or beef, you can use chicken, fish and even vegetables. But this lamb briyani is just such a treat for one of those Sunday family feasts. If you’ve never tried it this way, go for it. I know you’ll love it!

FRIED BOBOTIE BALLS

It’s always a great opportunity to try something new, especially when trying to think of what to do with our leftovers. This recipe puts a fresh spin on the classic bobotie, and makes for a festive starter perfectly geared to the South African summer!

THE NEW SALOMIE

You can’t call yourself truly Capetonian until you’ve met Salomie. She’s feisty, like a rich, spicy curry, but comforts at the same time with a blanket of thick, flaky roti. Salomies come in all shapes and sizes. Let’s see, there’s a mince curry version, chicken curry, steak curry, bean curry… if there’s curry involved, you can make a salomie. And to make it authentically Capetonian, make sure your roti is nice and thick – Cape Malay style – to soak up all those delicious curry juices. And there’s no right way to eat a salomie, although this fênsie, gluten-free salomie loves a knife and fork.

FRANCE

I’ve called this country home for almost a decade and I still feel like I’ve only skimmed the surface. I mean, a dish like the cassoulet was invented 700 years ago and has seen thousands of variations over the centuries. If I had to choose some of my favourite dishes to make though, it would come down to these three:

BOUILLABAISSE

Pronounced boo-ya-bess, it’s arguably the most famous fish stew to come out of France (Marseille to be precise). Like so many famous French dishes there are more opinions out there on what constitutes une vraie bouillabaisse (the real deal) than there are metro stops in Paris, which is why a bunch of chefs from Marseille got together in the 1980s to lay down the law. Their Charter became like a stamp of approval awarded only to restaurants that followed their very stringent rules. A bouillabaisse in the strictest sense will contain scorpion fish, John Dory, conger eel, weaver fish, anglerfish, sea hen and soup fish, along with a range of non-maritime yet carefully selected ingredients. But if you’re not planning on winning the Charter’s approval, just make a great base and add whatever seafood you wish!

CROISSANTS

Whoever said croissants should be left to the professionals didn’t know what they were talking about. Given, they’re not as simple as making crumpets, but all you need to remember is to keep the pastry as cool as possible when you’re working with it. For the rest, just follow the recipe. If you’ve never made a croissant, let this homegrown treat (it’s laced with biltong) be your first batch!

TARTELETTE À LA FRAMBOISE

Paris is, quite simply, a foodie’s dream. From its seemingly endless array of top restaurants, cafés, boulangeries and markets, it’s easy to lose yourself in the city’s culinary delights. But the one thing I can never get enough of is the pastry shops. There’s something about seeing a spread of beautifully crafted pâtisserie on parade behind a sheath of glass that fills me with a deep joy. One such beauty is the tartelette à la framboise (or raspberry tartlet), a creamy-custardy crême pat encased in a crunchy sweet pastry shell and topped with delectably tart, fresh raspberries. This recipe always makes me feel like I’m bringing a little bit Paris into my kitchen.

THE MEDITERRANEAN

I count myself incredibly fortunate that I live in this part of the world. Being able to hop across to Greece or take a road trip Spain is one of the greatest joys of living in this part of the world. Some highlights of my time living on the Med include:

FLAT BREAD WITH HUMMUS

For this fresh and fullsome platter, I used red speckled beans in a batch of flatbreads made to mop up the smokey hummus I made of the same bean. I have to say, the platter was polished long before the wine.

SPANAKOPITA

I often find inspiration in the cuisine of the southern Mediterranean when thinking of what to make at home over the summer season in South Africa, and this Greek-style spinach pie is always a huge hit. Still warm and comforting, but just a bit on the lighter side.

CHEESE TORTELLINI

Tortellini must be one of the most comforting Italian dishes out there. Comfort aside, though, I find that channeling my inner Massimo Bottura, making the pasta from scratch, and folding one tortellini after another, to be so therapeutic – like culinary origami – and it’s just so versatile! You can enjoy it hot, as a dish by itself, or slightly cooled over a crisp, fresh salad… it’s just perfect for any season. This recipe must be one of my all-time favourite summer dishes.

ASIA

In the last five years, I’ve travelled to Japan, Vietnam and Singapore, and each time I’ve come away enriched. The region’s outlook on food is so different to that of the West, but at the same time, so similar. These were some of my faves:

CHICKEN AND PRAWN KATSU

Talk about love at first bite! Don’t quote me on this, but I would imagine the Japanese “katsu” is an anglo-japanese word for “cut”, as in cutlet. Tonkatsu, then, means pork cutlet, chikinkatsu means… well… chicken cutlet, ebikatsu means prawn cutlet, and so on. So basically, a katsu is a Japanese version of a schnitzel made with extra crispy panko breadcrumbs, and it was one of my biggest guilty pleasures when I visited Japan.

KINGKLIP AND GREEN TEA BROTH

I wouldn’t call myself a tea snob, but ever since moving to Nice, I’ve become more and more fascinated with tisanes and herbal teas. And while it’s not strictly a French thing, I love the idea of working with tea in my cooking – I’ve been doing it with rooibos for years! This time around, though, I couldn’t resist flavouring my broth with lemon green tea. I don’t know why I never thought of it before. Somewhat herbaceous with a citrussy tang… it’s just perfect for broth to have with white fish, and a perfectly healthy winter warmer.

VEGETABLE RICE ROLLS

These rice rolls are one of those recipes I remember trying out after one glorious holiday in Vietnam, and since then, they’ve become one of my undisputed Saturday afternoon go-tos. I also find making them to be so therapeutic – you get into a rhythm – and before you know it, they’re done!

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