I was fortunate enough to be amongst a group of lifestyle/arts & culture writers to be invited to Buitengeluk in the Broadacres Centre to meet celebrity chef, Siba Mtongana, on Wednesday 4 September 2013. Her show, Siba’s Table, a series for Food Network (DStv Channel 175) will air throughout Africa, Europe, Middle East and the UK.
We arrive at the venue on a perfect late winter/early spring day, warm but not hot, to be greeted with cocktails designed by Siba herself! Here’s the recipe if you want to try one at home. We drank ours before we thought to photograph them.
Preparation time: 5 minutes
For the juice
300ml pomegranate juice
300ml apple juice
300ml orange juice
300ml carrot juice
¼ celery stick, grated
15-20 cm piece ginger, grated
2 inch celery sticks (the ones in our drinks were about 15cm and we could stir the drink with them)
Place all juice ingredients into a jug and mix well to combine.
Place crushed ice into 4 glasses and pour a shot of vodka into each.
Wrap an orange slice round each celery stick and place in the glass together with a few mint leaves.
Top with juice and serve.
Too many of those and one might be in trouble if one goes back to the office or drives!
Siba, originally from the Eastern Cape, is now living with her husband and their year old son, Lonwabo, in Cape Town. Lonwabo makes his appearances in the series and steals the show for cute factor alone. The Siba’s Table series, thirty minute shows, portray Siba as the woman next door. She adds to this image by sharing how blessed she, a born-again Christian, feels to be able to do this show – after all, she points out, there are many other people who work as hard as she does. Perhaps so, but her bubbly, unassuming and charismatic style as she creates and serves a range of dishes for her family and friends is that alluring mix of “I can also do that!” and “Wow!”
Siba draws on her entire history, from her childhood through to her professional knowledge of food, food preparation and presentation. The wonderful thing about Siba’s Table is that it is uniquely contemporary urban African without trying to be authentically anything but who and what Siba is. Her show is airing in many lands, but it is here that she can crack a joke about “Chakalaka not being a dance” without having to explain exactly what chakalaka really is.
Siba tells us that she wants to be known as the Queen of Convenience and I love that she pulls a packet of corn out of the freezer rather than starting with some fresh corn and lightly salted boiling water. I can see myself taking a packet of corn out of the freezer, but boiled mielies are for butter and salt and a lazy meal at home. I will never strip the cobs and create a dish out of the kernels.
So on to the potjiekos prepared to Siba’s recipe which we had for lunch.
Preparation time 15 min
Cooking time 2hrs 20 min
600g lamb neck chops
60g plain flour
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp smoked paprika
2 tsp ground coriander
2 tsp garlic and rosemary dry seasoning mix
30 ml (2 tablespoons) canola oil
2 onions, halved and sliced
2 celery sticks, sliced
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1 large green pepper, cored and diced
2 tsp (heaped) tomato paste
400g canned chopped tomatoes
800ml chicken stock, to cover
salt and pepper
8 baby carrots, washed but left whole
6 baby potatoes, halved
To Serve –
Crusty white bread
1.In a large bowl mix together the flour, spices and rosemary seasoning.
2.Mix the lamb neck with the flour and spices to coat then set aside.
3.Heat the canola oil in a potjie pot over medium hot coals and add the lamb and brown the meat for 4 minutes.
4.Add the onion, celery, half the garlic and green pepper and sauté for 5 minutes.
5.Add any of the remaining seasoned flour from the meat and cook out for a minute – this will help thicken the stew.
6.Stir in the tomato paste and canned tomatoes.
7.Pour in the stock and season with salt and pepper.
8.Simmer for 2 hours stirring every 20 to 30 minutes and replenishing with water if needed, until the meat is tender.
9.Throughout the cooking time check heat is not too high and adjust as necessary by dispersing the coals to lower the heat.
10.Add the potatoes, carrots and the rest of the garlic and cook for a further 20 minutes until the veggies are cooked but still firm.
It was delicious and I ate every morsel, but the heavy tomato flavour reminded me that this was basically a tomato bredie.
Fans who already know her from her Cooking with Siba series on M-Net may know that Siba has a degree in Food and Consumer sciences and that she has won numerous awards for food journalism and her contribution to the South African food arena. However academically and professionally accomplished Siba may be, it is her down to earth basic style and bubbly personality that attracts me to her and makes me want to watch her show. She is, to loosely paraphrase a hair dye commercial, one of us, but better!