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THE FOOD WE ATE    1. What did we eat?  [5min read]  

We ate ust about anything that one would expect from people with such diverse Global backgrounds.  We were definitely not a family for English roast and three veg meals. Dessert had to follow; If not, a jam sandwich provided calories for the young and active, and added layers to seniors.

All meals were punctual, sit-down family affairs.  Porridge or oats for breakfast starters, sometimes Maltabella[finely milled sorghum] and often a fry that included eggs. A good breakfast was the only way to start the day.

Sunday lunch was a roast AND a curry.  It was a typical post-second World War 2 home in which no food was wasted. Monday school sandwiches had roast leftovers with mustard, lettuce, and tomato.  I never ever swopped sandwiches on a Monday.  Other left-overs were for Monday dinners; I learned early that curries tasted better a day later.             [Curry Stage 1. Onions etc on the go. Recipe later].–>

Our mom tended to serve the same meal types on specific days of the week. Tuesday was fish or fish frikkadels.  These fish cakes, named by the Dutch, mostly had a Cape Malay recipe from the early slaves, indentured workers, and political exiles who still proudly display their Indonesian-Malay heritage in their physical appearance, clothing and their cooking. The turmeric, garlic, and parsley-flavoured patties were best eaten a day later on a sandwich smothered in Mrs. Ball’s chutney. Now there’s a must-have condiment in South African homes. In later years, “frikkadiles,” as my son called them, with yellow rice and baked beans, lifted the pleasure of eating them by several notches – with Mrs B’s on the frikkie, of course.

I have eaten fish cakes in many parts of the world, but this Cape treat is impossible to beat.  Even South East Asian fish balls cannot compete.  Made well, it leaves paua or whitebait fritters for dead, with all due respect to our wonderful adopted Kiwiland.  Even as I write, I salivate at the thought of the yellowish patty with the green parsley leaves and onion bits poking out through the crisp, browned outer layer.

We ate stews for the rest of the working week – green beans, Irish, tomato, cabbage……. all with mutton and potatoes.  When I cook, I add generous amounts of garlic, ginger, and chilli to these dishes.  The Habanero chilli is my favourite at 7/10 on the Richter scale. The Scorpion at 10/10, is a chilli with a serious health warning.

Best way to neutralise chilli burn?  Use sugar, jam or a sweet.  Best cure for chilli in the eyes?  None.  Justsuffer. Keep crying to extinguish the fire after several, lonnnggg painful minutes.  I handle them by the stem and cut them with kitchen scissors.  Best way to store chilli?  In the deep freeze.  My homegrown Habaneros at two years old are still hot and retain that unique flavour which one loses with dry chillis.

The main meal on a Saturday, as I recall, was lunch.  Fries were common and boontjie kerrie was a favourite served on rice. Mom used sugar beans or black-eyed beans for this curry.  I like the nutty taste of the latter and the dried beans soften easily in a rice cooker. Other favoured beans for curry are butter, black or red beans.  I prefer the latter canned.  It is a hard bean to soften, and I am not a fan of the pressure cooker.  Now that must stem from the day my mom’s soup sprayed the kitchen ceiling when she had not  closed the lid properly. Yes, Raju, I know how much a fan you are of the pressure cooker. 

Braais, BBQ’s, were less common then, than now[see later]. I taught myself to cook by following the recipes in the premier South African cookbook, Indian Delights.   After seventy years, the oft-revised book is still popular. It is such a simple book to follow and the results are magical.  Over the years I made up “Shadley’s Recipe of Ones” which I use in virtually all my curries.[See later blog]  This includes my present low fat cooking style( also later).

So, if you pass through Coffs Harbour, pop in.  If you are prepared to wait an hour or so, your curry will be served with the requisite amount of chilli in it to suit your palate.


What was your favourite meal?

Have you tried vegetarian bobotie?  If not, watch this space!

I may throw in an easy recipe for tamelletjies next.  What’s that?  Check this site.


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