Here, on these pages, I want to evoke a nostalgic eating experience, the sublime comfort of home-cooked food made by my mother and grandmother that connects me with that chapter of my life, characterised by joyful innocence. It is said that we all have the ability to remember love and generosity through the food cooked for us when we were younger. We often remember the first encounter with a particularly delicious dish of which fond memories are made. While African families did not document much, our mothers and grandmothers before us have been creating recipes and entertaining for generations, and those gestures of love continue to be remembered over time.

I recall with such joy the satisfying aromas that streamed from the oven and filled our home. I have a very clear picture of my mother’s generous smiles, as if she is right in front of me; her laughter was contagious and she would often be reduced to tears of joy as she danced with my father. We, in the meantime, giggled away, our excitement filling the house. We were happy and grateful.

I remember well the home where our parents raised us. Mom cooked feasts and baked generously, not only for us, but our extended family, those who lived with us or were raised by my parents. One of those was Buti John Ngobeni, my father’s nephew, who was a professional chef and thought nothing of returning the generous gesture and cooking for us. Buti John wore a white coat and rolled up his sleeves to prepare a stupendous feast in honour of my parents. He never uttered a word while he cooked, and only opened his mouth to sip from his favourite glass of something strong. In those days my parents regularly invited their friends over, each contributing R20 towards ingredients for our pleasure of that experience. Our guests would show up in their best outfits and my parents would welcome them with a glass of spumante bubbly. The menu was inevitably mouth-watering and the feast eye-pleasing, Buti John serving lamb crown — the kind of food we had never seen before. I remember the happiness of those nights and many more dinners hosted by my mother.


Preparation time: 45 minutes

Cooking time: 5 minutes

Serves: 10

You will need: Freshly slaughtered double goats’ chops from the rib cage and an open coal fire


1kg goats’ double chops or use lamb chops

15ml (1 tbsp) Dijon mustard

A handful chopped rosemary

10ml (2 tsp) salt

5ml (tsp) garlic salt

How to prepare:

Pack the roasting pan with the shanks. Add the chunks of onions, whole spring onions, chillies and garlic. Add the water and stock cube, and season with salt and honey. Cover tightly with a lid or foil. Roast on medium-to-high heat for 30 minutes, then reduce to low heat for the remaining 1½ hours until the meat falls off the bone. To make the salsa, mix all the ingredients together and serve with the goat shanks. Marinate the meat with the Dijon mustard for a minimum of 30 minutes. Season with rosemary, sea salt and garlic salt for 10-15 minutes. Grill both sides for 5 minutes on hot coals.


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Excerpt from KHANYISA – A CULINARY STORYTELLER published by Blue Weaver. Copyright © 2023 by Khanyisa Malabi.