Flavours of the rainbow nation

- February 10, 2023
| By : Rohan Chauhan |

The South African food festival at Crowne Plaza introduced residents of Delhi-NCR to a wide variety of dishes, including curries and braai, and spices similar to those in India

CHEF'S CORNER: A counter allocated especially for the chefs.

The South African food festival at Mosaic, the global cuisine restaurant at Crowne Plaza in Greater Noida, which ran from February 3-9, showcased a variety of items, including curries similar to India.

Former Master Chef South Africa contestants – Chef Siphokazi Mdlankomo and Chef Abigail Mbalo crafted the dishes for the guests.

The extravagant menu provided a plethora of traditional dishes like lamb bobotie, lentil bobotie, yellow rice and sambals, shisanyama – braai (barbecue) with lamb chops/chicken thighs/buffalo sausages (wors), smoked courgette / aubergine / mushrooms (braaied veg), chakalaka, pap and coleslaw and sweet endings with ginger “beer”/ gemmer (a non-alcoholic drink) & malva pudding among others.

FOR THE SIP: Ginger beer or gemmer, a non-alcoholic drink

The seating arrangements were in the hall on the ground floor of the hotel and the menu also included Indian, continental and Chinese dishes to cater to a wide range of guests.

Along with the Indian Super League premiering as a source of entertainment for the guests, a corner on the left was reserved exclusively for the chefs. The overall vibe was upbeat. The seven-day long food festival was graced by many people, including bureaucrats and foreign delegates.

“We have organised this food festival as part of the on-going celebrations of 30 years of bilateral ties between India and South Africa. Both countries share strong ties and have historical and cultural linkages. South Africa being renowned for its cultural diversity and food is indeed a favoured destination for travellers. I always believe food is part of one’s culture and helps to connect people,” said Sharad K. Upadhyay, General Manager, Crowne Plaza, Greater Noida.

The festival received rave reviews from the visitors.

Khusboo Sharma, a visitor, praised the initiative and effort, saying, “What better way to increase cultural diversity than food? I’d never tried South African cuisine before, and now I’m kicking myself for not having tried it sooner. The food is delicious and spicy, just like we Indians like it. It’s wonderful to see how many people have come here with their families, demonstrating how interested people are in different cultures and cuisines.”

Chef Siphokazi Mdlankomo said that there are many similarities between Indian and South African cuisines.

ARTIST AND CONNOIUSSEUR: Chef Siphokazi Mdlankomo with a visitor

“Because the spices used in both countries are very similar, the essence and flavours in some dishes remain consistent,” said Siphokazi when asked about the similarities in Indian and South African cuisines.

Siphokazi went on to say that curry is also a dish very common to both countries.

“It is quite similar. In Johannesburg, you’ll get the same curry as in India, but it’s spicier, and you won’t be able to tell the difference if it’s made by Indians.

Shisa Nyama is one of Durban’s most famous dishes and it can drive anyone insane with its taste. It is one dish I would certainly want you to try,” added Siphokazi.

ShisaNyama is a Zulu term that translates to “burn meat”. This type of braai (or barbecue) is popular, and is ideal for New Year’s occasions and is available in every province.

“ShisaNyama is made with a variety of spices. Season the braai meat liberally with spices. Barbecue it to taste and serve it with freshly baked bread and chakalaka (a dish made from beans, fresh vegetables, onions, pepper and tomatoes, and which can be both mild and spicy),” she said.

The procedure resembled that of preparing tandoori chicken.

Siphokazi also praised the visitors and said, “I have received compliments from everyone here and we have showcased a variety of dishes from the South African cuisines.”

Shailesh, another visitor, told Patriot that “Such events should occur more frequently. Everything was perfect — the food, the arrangements, the atmosphere — and you felt like you were a part of a different culture without leaving your hometown.”

Sailesh went on to say that the food was one of the best he’s ever tried in his life and was planning on visiting it again if possible.

“This seven-day food festival gave people access to exclusively crafted authentic signature dishes prepared by the guest Chefs. A one-of-a-kind experience, it gave food lovers the opportunity to taste real South African cuisine without having to travel thousands of miles to the country of origin,” said Upadhayay.

MEATY: Lamb chops being seasoned with spices for Shisha Nyama

For those who couldn’t try the South African cuisine at Crowne Plaza in Greater Noida can try it on February 11, Saturday, and February 12, Sunday, at the Talkatora Stadium where the New Delhi Municipal Council is organising a food festival featuring cuisines of G20 member countries.

The event will showcase cuisines of 29 countries including Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Republic of Korea, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Turkey, United Kingdom, the United States as well as those comprising the European Union.