Ukutya kwasekhaya: Tastes from Nelson Mandela’s kitchen, 175pp.
by Xoliswa Ndoyiya with Anna Trapido
Real African Publishers, Johannesburg, 2011
Cooking on page 32
I feel so blessed to have come across this cookbook in our local library. Imagine getting your hands on the recipes for dishes that were served to Nelson Mandela by his personal chef, Xoliswa Ndoyiya.
Her love for Madiba (Mandela’s Xhosa clan name) oozes throughout the book, as she explains how she cooked for the great man as well as his large extended family, especially his grandchildren.
Xoliswa talks about cooking for events ranging from family reunions to late-night political strategy sessions. Her days were busy and she dedicates the book to her own children and says she hopes it helps to ‘show you where I was and what I was doing all the times I wasn’t at home being your mother’.
Page 32 is her recipe for a vegetable soup that she says Madiba loved especially with a whole lot of pepper—white pepper.
1 medium (about 100g) onion, chopped
5 large carrots (about 400g), peeled and chopped
4 medium potatoes (about 800g), peeled and chopped
300g green beans, chopped
3 celery sticks with leaves, chopped
500g butter squash, peeled, seeded and chopped
200g baby marrows (zucchini), chopped
150g broccoli florets
3 litres water (or to cover)
2 vegetable stock cubes
salt and pepper, to taste
fresh flat-leaf parsley, to garnish
Combine the vegetables, water and stock cubes in a large pot. Bring to the boil, reduce heat and cook until the potatoes are soft, about 20 minutes.
Blend the soup until completely smooth. Season and serve garnished with the parsley.
Serves 8 to 10.
How it played out
My vegetable bins are usually overflowing so I had everything on hand (thanks to my friend, Marion, for a contribution of zucchini from her garden).
I used just under 3 litres of water to cover. My only change was to increase the number of stock cubes. I find that Australian stock cubes cope with about a cup of water, while European (and perhaps African) cubes cater for almost a litre. So I chucked in six cubes.
Used the stick blender to blend the cooked ingredients.
It’s easy to see why Madiba loved this soup. The balance of flavours is perfect. I expected one ingredient (not sure which one) to overpower, but found a smooth and even flavour, even with lots of pepper.
And in case you’re wondering, the book’s title means ‘home food’ in the isiXhosa language. Part of the reason Xoliswa was hired was because she could cook the familiar ‘home food’ that Madiba and his family loved so very much.
P.S. You can make this vegetarian or completely vegan by using vegetable stock cubes rather than chicken.
P.P.S. If you have a moment, be sure to check out my travel blog.