Thursday, 21 August 2014

Simply Saffron - modestly magnificent

We recently spent a couple of days in Prince Albert during their Winter School.  For those of you who don't know, it's the little Karoo town, at the base of the Swartberg, with a big heart and an even bigger creative energy. 

We had a busy few days, taking part in a Mosaic Workshop, a film at the new Showroom Theatre, a lecture on minerals and a tasting of the cheeses produced at Gay's Dairy.  The restaurants in the dorpie (little town) have always impressed and this visit certainly didn't disappoint. 

Simply Saffron, at 10 Church Street, is owned and managed by Ridwaan and Hermon.  It's fairly new to town but has already made quite a name for itself.  A number of people told us about their ever-changing and interesting menu, great value for money and (most importantly) fantastic food.  All of our informants were spot on.  A 3 course menu, with options that would please the full spectrum of veggies and carnivores alike and a venue that ticks all the boxes when it comes to comfort and service.  To say the price is reasonable is an understatement and as a BYO (bring your own) establishment (with no corkage) it just gets better and better. 

I asked Ridwaan for a recipe, which I will share with you below, and he commented that he wanted to give me something easy, that everyone can have a go at and enjoy.  He said that it's the uncomplicated stuff that is often the most difficult to get right, because we take it for granted, but that with a little care and attention we can create something beautiful.  His 'easy' tomato soup starter was a perfect example of exactly this; simple food taken to the next level through meticulous preparation and execution.  My Ethiopian Lamb Stew had layer upon layer of flavour; a subtle dish but one that would awaken even the most weary of palates.   
Walnut and blue cheese pate with toasted linseed bread and orange, ginger and whisky marmalade

Carrot and cabbage koftas in a creamy yoghurt sauce
Ethiopian lamb stew

Here is Ridwaan's Vegetable Curry:

  1. 4 cups of seasonal vegetables, if you use potatoes make sure they are cut into small cubes
  2. 2 Tbsp ghee or coconut oil
  3. 1 tsp mustard seeds
  4. 1 tsp fennel seeds
  5. 1/2 tsp fenugreek seeds
  6. 2 stems curry leaves
  7. a thumb of ginger, grated
  8. 2 green chillies, chopped
  9. 2 tsp dried fenugreek leaves
  10. 1/2 head of broccoli, cut into small florets
  11. 3 ripe, jam tomatoes, chopped
  12. salt and black pepper to taste
  • slowly heat ghee or oil with curry leaves and chillies, not allowing them to blacken
  • add all whole spices and continue heating until mustard seeds start to pop
  • add ginger and braise for 30 seconds
  • then add vegetables with a little water and fenugreek leaves and allow to cook until tender but still al dente
  • add broccoli and tomatoes at this stage, along with seasoning
  • cook for a further 5 minutes
  • serve each portion with a roti or some basmati rice     

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