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Mains

Everybody knows bobotie is a meat dish – after all, the dish was invented hundreds of years ago when the old people were looking for ways to prevent meat from going off. But when a vegetarian friend visited recently, we wanted to make something special. We tried lentils instead of minced meat, which was bit of a paradigm shift for The Guardians of The Traditional Bobotie, but it did come out really lovely.

A delicious chicken pie that combines delicate flavours and colours: small pieces of pink ham and slices of white-and-yellow egg are gently tucked into a protein-rich mixture of shredded chicken and home-made chicken stock, thickened with sago to be moist but never soggy. You won’t find any vegetables in this king of pies; they are served on the side, together with a crispy garden salad.

Instead of using ready-made curry mix, this recipe for Cape Malay lamb curry combines basic spices (ginger, cumin, coriander, turmeric, cinnamon, cardamom and cloves) into one of South Africa’s best curries. The long list of spices may let it sound complex, but is surprisingly easy to make.

The French, without doubt, makes the best onion soup in the world: it is a perfect combination of smooth textures and flavours.

While every region and bistro across France has its own version of this classic dish, very few non-French restaurants seem to be able to make a decent bowl of French onion soup.

We cannot understand why, because it is a simple enough dish to prepare at home, as we do on cold and wet winter nights (that is, frequently).

This fishcake recipe is easy, quick and inexpensive. It is also quite versatile: we prefer salmon, but tuna works equally well, and you can experiment freely with the flavourings. You can serve it as nibbles, a light main course (this recipe is enough for two), or use it for patties next time you make fish burgers.

As an added bonus, most kids like these fish cakes, especially if they helped to make it.

This recipe is a great way to turn leftover chicken (and leftover vegetables) into a flavoursome, first-class dish.

Frikkadelle are South African meat balls. They can be as simple or grand as the occasion demands, and this recipe is definitely on the lavish side (but easy to make): the combination of perfectly flavoured frikadelle, served in a heart-warming tomato, onion and wine sauce, will tame the coldest and wettest of winter nights.

Paptert (porridge pie) is a delicious modern addition to South African braaivleis (barbeque).

It's looks a little bit like a lasagne, but is made from maize porridge (mieliepap) and a very generous vegetable filling to ensure a rich, moist and admittedly decadent savoury tart. Leftovers will keeps well in the fridge until the following day, but should be served warm.

Because pickled fish should be marinated in the fridge for two days, it is a great dish to make in advance for a long weekend, or any other day that you won't have time for cooking.

There are many recipes for this flavoursome dish, most of which tend to use lots of vinegar and curry. In this recipe, Marietjie reduced the vinegar and curry. The result is milder, but it's still got lots of zing.

What to serve a vegetarian guest at a "braai" (South African barbeque)? After all, barbequed meat is the essence of a "braai". The good news is that vegetarians don't have to settle for second best at a "braai", because a baked butternut served with spicy peanut sauce is a meal fit for a king, as either a main or side dish.

Marietjie was introduced to West-African peanut sauce on an overland-safari with a few vegetarians. She was so impressed that she considered becoming a vegetarian herself.

This lovely creamy oven baked fish is guaranteed to warm up a cold winter's evening, especially if combined with fresh salad, a bottle of Riesling, and good company.

We found the original version of this recipe in a book called "Voortrekker Resepte", published in 1988 to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the "Groot Trek" in South Africa. We adapted it a bit to suit our family, but this recipe is still fairly close to the original:

This recipe was born out of the need to cook a meal from ingredients in our fridge, was inspired by recipes from the "Simply Cooking at Northcity" cooking course and Ken Hom's book "Foolproof Chinese Cookery", borrowed techniques from Ross Dobson's book "Chinatown", and got the green light from our daughter. Fusion cooking in the true sense of the word!

This chicken, which is marinated overnight in buttermilk before being slowly baked in the oven, is tender, succulent and golden brown. It was inspired by Maryland chicken, but is healthier (and easier to make) because the chicken is baked rather than fried in oil.

This is one of our regular winter soup recipes. The important thing is to simmer it gently for the whole day to bring out that meat-bone heartiness, so you will need a slow cooker, or a slow stove plate and a heavy pot with a solid lid.

Melkkos is a comforting milk and cinnamon dish that can be served as a light breakfast, lunch or evening meal. The name "melkkos" (which means "meal made from milk") doesn't do justice to this wonderful dish that will warm up even the most dismal of winter days.

This simple, almost delicate dish is our family's variation of a recipe given to Marietjie by her cousin Heidi, who was given it by a colleague with an Italian husband. We buy dry chickpeas at Mefco and cook it overnight in a slow cooker until it is soft and tender. Alternatively, use canned chickpeas.

You don't rely need a recipe to make curry mince for your vetkoek; all you need is onion, your favourite spices and minced meat. You can add anything from garlic and raisins to Worcester sauce and frozen veggies. This recipe is based on the mince sauce used in our bobotie recipe.

When you ran out of bread in the house and don't have time to bake any, try this quick vetkoek recipe.

Vetkoek is essentially deep fried buns that can be eaten with anything from apricot jam to curry mince. It is somewhat similar to Dutch "oliebollen", the main diference being that oliebollen are sweet and contains raisins.

Traditional vetkoek is made from yeast bread dough, but this quick and easy vetkoek recipe use baking powder as the raising agent.

This stew, loosely based on Berber tagine, is perfect when you have guests over for lunch on Sunday, especially in the winter. You can prepare it the night before, leave it overnight to marinade, and pop it into the oven on Sunday morning, before going to church. The result is a hearty stew that reminds of South African potjiekos, but has a distinct Moroccan flavour.

Soweto Chicken is a heart-warming chicken casserole dish that is spicy, and you can make it as hot or mild as you prefer. The original recipe came from Soweto in Johannesburg and was published in Peter Veldsman's excellent cookbook, "Kos van die Eeu" (Food of the Century). New Zealanders love this adapted version of Soweto chicken:

This is a lovely casserole, comforting and just a wee bit spicy.

Mayonnaise and chutney may sound like an unusual combination for a chicken casserole, but this saucy, flavoursome dish is much-loved in South Africa. It never fails to increase the appetite of your guests, who will invariably ask for more chicken, or, as we say in Afrikaans, "vra na meer hoender".

A fantastic Moroccan dish that combines the soft flavour of lamb with the unique, almost tangyness of pomegranate.

This dish is not traditional at all, but rather a fusion of South African and Italian flavours.

You will want to have everything ready before you start, because once you got started, you'll need to work fast to prevent the lamb from overcooking.

This mince roll is a contemporary South African dish, rather than traditional. It is easy and fast to prepare, but is definitely not cooking out of a tin either!

Game is a big thing in South-Africa, especially during the hunting season in the winter. Because game meat such as Springbok or Kudu is not available in New Zealand, this recipe uses deer venison.

Marietjie's mum was a master at making melt in the mouth beef. Jaco discovered it recently and now Marietjie's husband cooks her mum's speciality.

This delicately flavoured leg of lamb reminds of Greek-style lamb, but is traditional South African.

This is a rich stew made from lamb (mutton) and lots of tomato. Bredie is simmered slowly to allow the flavours of the meat and vegetables can combine. Bredie is usually made from mutton, and tend to have a dominant vegetable ingredient such as tomato, beans or pumpkin.

 

Bobotie is a mild spicy dish made from minced meat and egg custard, served with yellow rice and a salad.

It is a complex though well-balanced combination of flavours: sweet and fruity (sultanas, chutney, apricot jam and a wee bit of sugar), spicy (curry and turmeric), sour (vinegar) and salty (the meat).