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Akhni, a hot Cape Malay tradition

ANTIE Amina in her Bo-Kaap kitchen, having read the title for this week’s recipe, is already burying her face in her hands in horror and reaching for the mouse to tap out an irate text to the Cape Argus SMS column. ‘No no NO Tony Jackman you do not put fruit in akhni, that is not an akhni, phone me and I will show you how to make a proper akhni. And where’s the potatoes? I tear my hair out! – Outraged, Bo-Kaap’

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If spices were cars, a curry would be a showroom

IF SPICES were cars, vanilla would be a 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air with off-white hubcaps, rare yet funky, stylish but not flash. Vanilla doesn’t need to take life too seriously. It’s there for the ice cream at the beach, the woodiness in the wine. Vanilla parks with a view of the ocean, listens to the flap of the gull’s wing, watches dozily as the surfer glides home.

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Are you a thigh or breast man?

It’s one of the first choices you have to make as a growing boy – are you a leg or a breast man? It’s a pity to have to choose, I always thought. Can’t you have the best of both worlds? Do we have to grow up to be so dull that you can either have one or the other, but God help you if you fancy both? And what about the thigh? Does it have to be the entire leg? What if you have a penchant for a nicely turned thigh but couldn’t be bothered with the scrawny lower leg? I mean, face it, there’s not much to recommend the calf, is there? Not much meat on it, nothing to get a grip on.

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Shepherd’s chicken pie? Even a shepherd needs a break from lamb

If I had R10 for every time a well-meaning friend has remarked, “I see Tony’s feeding the army again”, my bank manager wouldn’t be the dribbling wreck she has become. She might even be able to afford a lotion to salve her scalp in an effort to get the patches of hair to grow back that she has pulled out in nervous fits.

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Christmas dinner à la Scrooge

This is a Christmas dinner party menu for that’s quick and affordable. I made the starter, a paté, in 25 minutes. The main course is a simple roast that’s been tarted up a little with a shiny coat. And the dessert is a cheat, plain and simple: store-bought vanilla ice-cream that’s been given a cheeky Christmassy lift – and it really does taste like a traditional mince pie. That took five minutes, not including the shopping.

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Judging Spanish chickens by their cover

We often tend to take the basic ingredients of what we imagine to be an ethnic cuisine, give it a label and add it to our repertoire.Tomatoes, garlic, oregano? Italian. Same trio but add lemon? Greek. Take away the lemon and replace it with anchovy? Provencal.

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Sense-sharpening Durban coconut curry

Durban has an electric sense of something about to happen. It’s like that feeling in the air before a tropical storm breaks. You can sense it coming, Your forearms tingle. Your back tenses. Your senses sharpen. Come on, admit it: when last did you feel like that in Cape Town?

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Slaving away over a glazed chicken

Was anything ever more condescending than the colonisers making a pretence at bartering with the newly oppressed who, of course, had no idea that they were being conquered with sales talk? “Here, have one of these lovely scarves, pretty lady. We’ll have that land over there. And don’t worry, you and your husband can come and work on the land for us. We’ll give you a nice little pondok with a view where you can bring up our future labourers.”

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Duck fat is sizzling hot for roast potatoes

Woolies recently seemed to take a flyer and stock up on chunky tubs of duck fat, something that I have occasionally asked for over the past couple of years, always to be met with a puzzled frown, as if to say, “Why the hell would anybody want to buy that?”

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Five spices and don’t duck the flavour

A good formula should not be messed with. No one wants to hear you say, ‘Well, I made five spice but I changed it – I used goji berries instead of the star anise and pumpkin seeds instead of the fennel. Oh, and I left out the cinnamon. And the cloves.”

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