54 member nations spanning the four corners of the Earth make Commonwealth cuisine as diverse as it comes. Overseas speaks to three ROSL staff members to find out about the dishes they love from their home countries

Warren Miller,
Resident Manager

Growing up in South Africa, I was spoilt with the sheer diversity of dishes available across the country. South African cuisine is heavily influenced by a melting pot of cultures that make up our wonderful Rainbow nation.

Food is, of course, highly emotive and there are so many dishes that conjure up memories for me. A few of the typical South African dishes include “Umngqusho” (Samp and Beans) made from mielie (corn) and sugar beans, spiced and fruity Cape Malay dishes such as Bobotie, which is a spicy mince made with sultanas and baked with an egg custard bay leaf topping; Mutton Bunny Chow, a fiery Durban Indian curry served in a half loaf of white bread; Biltong, spiced dried cured meat; Koeksisters, a plaited dough fried then soaked in sugar syrup; freshly caught fried Snoek; Mozambican inspired Peri-peri Chicken, and, of course, the Braai (Barbeque), an integral part of every South African’s DNA.

If I had to choose my favourite dish, it would be Potjiekos. Potjiekos is a traditional South African stew that is slow cooked outdoors over wood or charcoal in a traditional cast iron, three-legged pot. Some of my fondest memories are sitting with my Dad as he skilfully prepared the “potjie”, explaining in detail the importance of getting every step right and how any deviation in the steps would prove disastrous. Our favourite was Oxtail, which he would brown in the pot; fry the onions, garlic, herbs, and spices in the juices of the meat, and once cooked, would start to layer the pot with a selection of fresh vegetables like patty pans, green beans, baby corn, cabbage, carrots, and ending with a final layer of potatoes on the top. He would then pour over stock, beer and/or wine to cover the potatoes. The lid would go onto the potjie and it was left to simmer for up to six hours, without stirring the potjie at any time, as the aim was for flavours of the different ingredients to mix as little as possible. When it was finally ready you ended up with the mouth-watering stew with meat falling off the bone, vegetables tender and a deep smoky flavour to the sauce. Without a doubt one of the most delicious South African dishes.

Harriet Leyden,
Marketing Officer

Rich in herbs and spices, I can guarantee that in every Jamaican kitchen you will find scotch bonnet peppers, pimento seeds, thyme, spring onions, ginger, and curry powder.

Jamaican cuisine is an emblem of the intersectionality that arrives from cultures merging, that is what I love about my nation’s cuisine. The history, the culture, the diversity that it reflects. I have favourites for different occasions; on road trips, I love peppered shrimp, paired with a freshly opened coconut; at Christmas I love curried mutton and roti, on Sundays our traditional rice and peas (beans), and for breakfast, our national fruit ackee and saltfish paired with a cup of Blue Mountain coffee.

Another popular Jamaican classic, which I love due to it being rich in both flavours and history, is jerk. The art of jerking, smoking the meat (or fish or vegetable) on a grill, was first invented by the inhabitants (Tainos) of the island as a way of preserving their food. During the Taino period, it was used as a method of survival and being discreet they would jerk their food in the ground to stop the smoke from escaping. This method of food preservation was later adopted by the Maroons and passed on from generation to generation. Today, jerk chicken or fish is typically considered as takeaway street or beach food. Packed with herbs and spices, I like to pair my jerk chicken with bread.

Titus Silu,
Duty Manager

Try it for yourself

Ingredients – Serves 4-6

  • Goat, beef, or chicken meat,
    cut into bite-sized chunks – 1kg
  • Oil – 3 tbsps
  • Warm water – 2 cups
  • 1 tbsp ginger and garlic paste
  • ¼ lemon juice
  • Red hot pepper to taste
  • Salt to taste

Preparation

  • Wash and leave the meat to dry. Put in a bowl and set aside.
  • In a separate bowl, mix the ginger and garlic paste, and lemon juice. Then pour the mixture over the meat to marinate it.
  • Cover the meat and leave for two hours to marinate completely.

Cooking

  • Prepare your grill and have it hot.
  • Toss the meat with the oil, then thread it on skewers.
  • Dissolve the salt in warm water and sprinkle it over the meat while cooking
  • Grill the skewered meat, basting it occasionally with the salt water, until it is cooked to your desired doneness.
  • Remove the meat from the skewers, and serve with kachumbari salad and ugali

Kenya is a multi-racial society, made up of over 40 native ethnic tribes, as well as Asians, Arabs, and Europeans. Even though each region of the country has its own staple food, in general, the country’s cuisine has been influenced a lot by early settlers, the main influence coming from the Indians who migrated and settled in East Africa as railway workers in the 19th Century.

There are, however, some ingredients that are used in all parts of the country, such as maize, rice, potatoes, and beans. My favourite Kenyan meal would have to be a combination of Ugali (cornmeal) and Nyama choma (roasted meat).

Ugali is the most common food in Kenya, and probably the most popular in Eastern and Southern Africa. It is very affordable and easy to make. The main ingredients are water and maize flour, but you could also use millet or sorghum flour for a healthier version.

Nyama choma literally means grilled meat in Kiswahili and it’s the unofficial national dish. The meat is usually goat or beef. You will find it almost everywhere, from roadside shacks to local bars, and the finest restaurants. In Kenya, any gathering is an excuse for eating Nyama choma, where it‘s often paired with ugali, Kachumbari salad (fresh tomatoes and onions salad) and a local beer.

Try it for yourself

Ingredients – Serves 4 -6

  • Goat, beef, or chicken meat,
    cut into bite-sized chunks – 1kg
  • Oil – 3 tbsps
  • Warm water – 2 cups
  • 1 tbsp ginger and garlic paste
  • ¼ lemon juice
  • Red hot pepper to taste
  • Salt to taste

Preparation

  • Wash and leave the meat to dry. Put in a bowl and set aside.
  • In a separate bowl, mix the ginger and garlic paste, and lemon juice. Then pour the mixture over the meat to marinate it.
  • Cover the meat and leave for two hours to marinate completely.

Cooking

  • Prepare your grill and have it hot.
  • Toss the meat with the oil, then thread it on skewers.
  • Dissolve the salt in warm water and sprinkle it over the meat while cooking
  • Grill the skewered meat, basting it occasionally with the salt water, until it is cooked to your desired doneness.
  • Remove the meat from the skewers, and serve with kachumbari salad and ugali
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