MADIBA’S FAVOURITE FREEDOM FOOD
Chef JP remembers his meetings with this great statesman and cooks Nelson Mandela’s favourite meal as a tribute
In a time of war stricken countries around the world, the word “FREEDOM’ plays a huge part in the dialogue for many a fellow human being on this beautiful planet.
In remembrance of the Freedom Day, and in tribute to our own history, I am remembering a day of democracy, freedom of choice, not just politically, but a voice of choice, and free speech. This is certainly a day not to have been forgotten.
In light of this, I’m heading to the humble kitchen – by choice, my kitchen- to celebrating the freedom to cook whatever I desire as well as the ability to fill my pantry with goodness at a time when people in countries like the Ukraine do not know where their next meal is coming from.
In 2003, I had the privilege of meeting Madiba personally at his home in Quno, in the Eastern Cape on Christmas Day.
On Christmas Eve, with the aid of our sponsors, Tiger Brands, myself and my dearest friend and business partner, Albert Eloff drove down to his homestead. We stayed in a shady holiday inn in Mthatha. Having had no sleep, we woke at 4 am to assist the Unite Against Hunger Campaign to feed over 2 000 children for Christmas Day. With numb fingers and almost no feeling in my hands after 12 hours of
helping hands feed the kids, we got to meet the man himself – a moment in time that I will never, ever forget.
Over the years, as part of the official media company for the Tiger Brands campaign, we shared many more amazing encounters with this great man, collectively doing two television commercials with him and his private secretary, Zelda la Grange, at the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund home in Houghton, Johannesburg.
This year, I decided to create his favourite dish, samp and beans, oxtail and dumplings, in remembrance of everything he stood for to bring freedom to our country of many colours and cultures and, most of all, the luxury of having an individual voice.
In his or her own way, each of us has a special, individual freedom. For me, it has been the freedom of being a restaurateur and executive chef over the years. That has had its perks – you can be creative, dream up new dishes, be hands on and work together with talented chefs such as the two head chefs and two very talented young experienced chefs with which I have shared my kitchen.
But, when it comes to traditional dishes, I’m hands off. Joyce, my head chef, made me creamy samp one day and I just couldn’t stop eating… So, today, I’m also recreating this dish in honour of my staff.
On the menu is creamy samp and beans as an accompaniment to my oxtail – with red wine of course!
FROM MADIBA’S PANTRY
1 kg oxtail
2 large onions
250 ml red wine
50 ml Old Brown Sherry
2 Tablespoons crushed garlic
2 Tablespoons butter or ghee
4 medium carrots
4 medium celery sticks
2 sprigs of fresh rosemary
500 ml stock, strained from the pressure cooker
1 tin peeled tomatoes
a dash of Worcestershire sauce
smoked paprika, a pinch
2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled
1 small butternut
30 g tomato paste
Place your oxtail in a pressure cooker with some H20 and dissolve your beef cube. Cook for about half an hour, remove the par cooked pieces, drain the excess fat and place on dry kitchen paper.
Lightly dust your pieces with some flour, coating all the exposed sides of the meat.
Heat up you pot over an open fire, and caramelise your onion and celery sticks. You can add some salt and pepper, the rosemary spring and then brown your meat on both sides for three minutes. Take it out to rest.
Now, it is time to add all the goodness. First, add the broth from the pressure cooker, add your vino, and sherry, tomatoes and carrots. Close the lid and let it steam away for 15 minutes, add your sweet potato disks and butternut and then close the lid for 10 minutes.
Stir slowly and delicately add your oxtail. Close the lid for 20 minutes and cook until thickened.
Now, for the best part, add your dumplings and let your meal slow cook for 15 minutes. Remove the lid and let the excess water evaporate. You are now ready to serve your dish. Garnish with some rosemary, add salt and pepper to taste and serve with your creamy samp.
CREAMY SAMP AND BEANS
FROM MADIBA’S PANTRY
500 g of mixed samp and beans
1 Tablespoon smoked paprika
1 Tablespoon turmeric
Cook your samp for about 1 and half hours as per the instructions on the packaging.
In a separate pan, fry a medium sized onion and green pepper (diced) in some grape seed oil with the spice mix – 2 Tablespoons garlic, mixed dry spices.
Slowly stir in the mix and let it simmer for 10 minutes when it will be ready to serve.
For the dumplings, you will need 2 cups (500g) of self-raising flour, 1 cup mixed milk and water, a pinch of salt.
Vigorously mix, adding milk and water while you mix. Let it set in the fridge for 10 minutes, and scoop, your bite size portions into your pot, as previously mentioned in the oxtail recipe and cook for 10 minutes with the lid on.
This dish is so rich not just in flavour and aromatics, but in tradition. It is truly a hearty wholesome meal fit for a president.