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Spicing things up in Lion’s River

Food spice

By Nerissa Card

The saying goes that a family that cooks together stays together. And a family that bears this out are the Thokans from Lion’s River. Three generations have lived in the area for about 100 years.

Having sampled samoosas at the takeaway they own next to their garage, I was keen to find out who was in the kitchen. I have eaten thousands of samoosas, here and in India, and these are truly the best I’ve tasted.

It turns out Ayesha Bibi Thokan is the whiz in the kitchen, so much so that she has featured in Erica Platter and Clinton Friedman’s cookbook, East Coast Tables: The Inland Edition.

Ayesha, who says she has always loved cooking, was kind enough to share two of her favourite recipes with us, so get cooking, people. And if you don’t feel like it, no problem, Ayesha does outside catering. You can contact her on 084 639 0054.

Serves 4
Best served with rice or rotis

2 tablespoons cooking oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 pieces of cinnamon stick
2 cloves
Half a teaspoon whole jeera
500g lamb, mutton or chicken, washed and cut into convenient pieces
2 medium tomatoes, pureed
3 tablespoons curry powder (Dada’s Currymate)
Three and a quarter teaspoons rough salt to taste
1 teaspoon pounded ginger and garlic
3 medium potatoes, peeled and quartered

Heat oil and braise the onion with whole spices until golden brown. Add meat, marinated in tomatoes, curry powder, salt, ginger and garlic. Simmer for 15 minutes.

Add potatoes and about one cup of water. Continue cooking until potatoes are soft. Sprinkle with dhania.

This talented cook featured in Erica Platter and Clinton Friedman’s cookbook, East Coast Tables: The Inland Edition.

Serves 6 to 8

1 medium chicken (about 1kg), cut and washed
6 teaspoons breyani masala (Dada’s Currymate)
A quarter teaspoon whole jeera
4 elachi
2 pieces of cinnamon stick
4 black peppercorns
2 teaspoons crushed ginger and garlic
Half a cup of yoghurt
Quarter cup of tomato puree
Quarter cup lemon juice
Quarter teaspoon saffron, crushed
One and a quarter teaspoons rough salt
2 large onions
One and a half cups of oil or ghee
4 green chillies, split
One and a half cups masoor, boiled with 2 teaspoons
of salt
6 small potatoes, fried
3 hard-boiled eggs, shelled
2 cups rice, slightly under-cooked

Marinate meat in breyani masala, whole spices, ginger and garlic, yoghurt, tomato, lemon juice, saffron and salt. Braise onions and add to marinated chicken.

In a two to three-litre pot, heat oil or ghee and add meat. Cook for about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and garnish with dhania and green chillies. Spread boiled masoor, potatoes and eggs evenly on top and cover with rice.

Finally, sprinkle on diluted egg-yellow food colouring to enhance the dish. Place over a high heat for five minutes. As soon as it sizzles, place in the oven for an hour at 180C. Enjoy!

Main picture, top: Jason Leung/Unsplash

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