Heritage food by Carike Claassen

Today is Heritage Day in South Africa. All over the country, people are taking time today to celebrate their heritage, attending culture festivals, visiting museums and listening to music.

Another big part of any heritage celebration is, of course, food. Mostly, South Africans today will be gathering around a wood fire outside in the sun to braai – our take on a barbecue. There are even nation wide braai contests being held – it’s a serious business.
Though a good old fashioned braai is iconically South African, that is of course only the tip of the iceberg. In such a tremendously diverse country, with so many culinary influences, isolating one dish or one cooking tradition that really represents South Africa is actually very difficult. Part of the fun of living in such a melting pot is having the opportunity to taste your way through the many different food heritages that are represented here. I do have my favourites, though, so I’d like to share a recipe from the Cape Malay cooking tradition with you.

It’s a recipe for a creamy chicken curry that requires some extra effort (the secret is to make your own curry powder) – but the effort is so worthwhile. It’s a deliciously spicy curry, not very hot. Enjoy it with a cool Chardonnay – preferably South African! 😉
As you sip your chardonnay, let’s have a toast: To each other. To more opportunities for people to gather around and explore each others’ cultures. But most of all, to the awesome realisation that, whatever your own cultural heritage, whether South African or American, religious or not – our global heritage as mankind is what binds us together at the end of the day.

Recipe: Creamy Cape Malay chicken curry

Start by making your own curry powder:
Makes 1.5 cups
3 tbsp black cardamom or 2 tbsp green cardamom pods
1 tbsp cloves
½ cup cumin seeds
½ cup coriander seeds
½ cup black peppercorns
3 cinnamon sticks
Blend all ingredients into a fine consistency in a spice grinder
Serves 8-10
1kg filleted chicken breasts or deboned thighs & drumsticks
15ml masala (for dusting)
125ml flour
salt and pepper to taste
50ml butter
25ml vegetable oil
2 large onions, finely sliced
10ml cumin seeds
10ml fennel seeds
1 bay leaf
5ml crushed garlic
1 can (41g) whole tomatoes
10ml masala
5ml ground turmeric
2 green chilies, finely chopped
50ml plain yoghurt

Mix together the masala (for dusting), flour, salt and pepper. Coat the chicken with this mixture, shaking off excess. Heat oil and butter in a saucepan and fry the chicken breasts on both sides until lightly browned. Remove chicken from pan and set aside.
Sauté the onions, cumin seeds, fennel seeds and bay leaf until the onion is soft and transparent. Chop the tomatoes and add to onion in the saucepan.

Add the masala, turmeric, garlic and green chilies. Cook until sauce thickens. Return the chicken to the saucepan and simmer until cooked through. Add the yoghurt and heat through. Do not boil as the yoghurt will curdle.

Serve with basmati rice.



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