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Recipes: Making memories with Chef Mbombi

Chef Mbombi's new book, An African Bite, is his tribute to the women who taught him to cook – from his mother and grandmother to the high school economics teacher.

20 April 2023

Spicy chicken pieces

Prep time: 5-10 minutes
Cooking time: 1.5 hours
Serves 4
1 chicken, cut into 8 pieces 
1-2 tsp ground paprika
1-2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 medium onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, crushed or finely chopped
2 green chillies, seeds removed and chopped
1 litre water
3-4 medium potatoes, washed, peeled and cut into quarters (optional)
1 Tbsp butter (optional)
1. Season the chicken with paprika and cayenne pepper. Place the chicken in a single layer in a large pot. Add the onion, garlic and chillies and water to cover.
2. Simmer on medium to medium-low heat for 1½ hours or until the meat is tender (topping up with a little boiling water if necessary).
3. After 60 minutes, add the potatoes and butter, if using. The potatoes will be done when they are soft when pierced with a knife. Serve with pap or steamed bread.
Chef’s tip
A home-reared hardbody chicken needs time to cook. If you use supermarket chicken, reduce the total cooking time to 60 minutes (add the potatoes after 30 minutes).

Beef Stew with Carrots and Thyme

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 60 minutes
Serves 4
1kg cubed beef
2 Tbsp Maizena or flour, for dusting
2-3 Tbsp canola oil or sunflower oil 
1 red onion, roughly chopped
1-2 carrots, roughly chopped
4 garlic cloves, chopped or sliced
4-5 sprigs fresh thyme
8-10 fresh basil leaves, chopped
Salt and ground black pepper to taste
4 tsp beef stock powder or 3–4 stock cubes
1 litre boiling water
1. Dust the meat with flour. Heat the oil in a pot over medium heat and fry the beef cubes for 20 minutes, until browned on all sides. Remove from the pot and set aside.
2. Add a little more oil to the pot, if needed. Add the onion, carrots and garlic and cook for 2–3 minutes, until softened. Add the thyme, basil, and salt and pepper to taste, and fry for 5 minutes, until the onion is golden brown.
3. Return the meat into the pot and add the stock powder and water. Lower the heat and simmer until the liquid reduces and the meat is tender, about 35 minutes. Serve with pap or mashed potato.
Chef’s tips
- For extra flavour, substitute the Maizena or flour with 1 Tbsp oxtail of soup powder. Don’t neglect to dust the meat before browning, as the flour or soup powder helps to thicken the stew.
- Instead of fresh herbs, you can use 1–2 tsp each of dried thyme and basil.

Pan-fried Salmon with Honey-soy Marinade

Prep time: 5 minutes + marinating time
Cooking time: 4-5 minutes
Serves 2
2 salmon portions (± 200 g each)
2 Tbsp olive oil, for cooking
Honey-soy marinade
½ cup (125 ml) honey
3 - 4 Tbsp dark soy sauce
1 Tbsp olive oil
4 garlic cloves, crushed
or very finely chopped
2 Tbsp finely crushed ginger
1 tsp ground black pepper
1. Combine the marinade ingredients in a shallow dish. Add the salmon portions, turn to coat, and set aside for 1 hour, to marinade.
2. Heat some olive oil in a pan over medium heat. Remove the salmon from the marinade and place, skin-side down in the pan. Cook for 2-3 minutes, then turn and cook for a further 2 minutes, until the flesh is opaque and flakes easily.
3. Meanwhile, pour the marinade into a small saucepan and bring to boiling point. Serve the salmon with fried potato slices, baby potatoes or mashed potatoes and drizzle over some of the warm marinade.

Roasted Butternut & Halloumi Salad

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 40 minutes
Serves 4
1 medium butternut, peeled
and cubed (± 2 cups)
2 Tbsp butter
1-2 Tbsp brown sugar
150 g halloumi cheese, cubed
5 cups (± 80 g) rocket leaves
1 cup pickled red peppers,
thinly sliced
½ cup pumpkin seeds
½ cup coconut flakes
Olive oil & balsamic dressing
½ cup (125 ml) olive oil
½ cup (125 ml) balsamic vinegar
1 tsp black pepper

1. Spread the butternut on a baking sheet. Dot with butter and sprinkle with brown sugar. Toss to coat, then roast in a preheated oven at 180°C for 30–35 minutes, until tender and starting to caramelise. Set aside to cool.
2. Pan-fry the halloumi in a nonstick pan until golden.Drain on a paper towel.
3 . Place the rocket on a serving platter and top with the roasted butternut, fried halloumi and red peppers. Scatter over the pumpkin seeds and coconut flakes. Pour over the dressing just before serving.
To make the dressing
1. Whisk the ingredients together in a jug or small bowl.

Recipes sourced from An African Bite by Chef Mbombi

The book celebrates the simplicity and authenticity of African food for a contemporary cook. Chef Mbombi has a deep connection to his culture, yet he is also a modern man living an urban lifestyle. Recognising that if we don’t keep cooking ‘heritage’ dishes, there is a risk of them being lost forever, he set out to create a cookbook that celebrates the food he was raised on.