Tag Archives: saffron

chicken + chorizo paella

chicken + chorizo paella


A few weeks ago I was invited to meet Jose and Lisa Gomez owners of Perfect Paella … and all I can say of that night is that the Spanish truly love their Paella, they really know how to throw the best parties and boy can they dance! Just so you know Perfect Paella is selling the most amazing paella pans (and very affordable too) and even give cooking classes if you want to really learn from the Masters.

But for me the paella is one of those dishes that I think has become victim to its own success and modern day popularity – hence the reason why it has so many different interpretations or variation. Now my question today is – to chorizo or not to chorizo? A purist friend of mine said to me he heard that you traditionally don’t use chorizo in paella! This caught me completely off-guard – for one, I have always cooked my own paellas with chorizo and I honestly thought that it is the way to do it! I had to immediately ask one of my best friends Louis who lives near Valentia: would I be defiling an ancient and respected recipe by including chorizo in the paella or not?


Within 5 minutes of my email, Louis responded as follows: “Nella… NO chorizo if you want traditional paella…my mother-in-law would turn in her grave. The paella with chorizo is more for tourists in Spain and in the South of Spain (Andalucia) . If you throw anything in then it’s just a rice ensemble and not a paella.”


So there you have it folks – in Spain they don’t use chorizo in a real Paella … But now … I am not a purist or a traditionalist so I love chorizo and love adding it to paella. So my paella is probably a rice concoction of sort in Spanish terms but for me it’s a damn good paella. I also steered well away from the tradition by substituting the wine with some South African “Nagmaalwyn”. My paella is also on the blonder side (not yellow) – another note to self – I need to stock up on some fresh saffron. It was one of the most soulful paellas I have yet to taste – try it and let me know …



chicken + chorizo paella
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 6
  • 800g Chicken pieces – I take each piece and cleave it into two pieces
  • 2 Chorizo sausages – sliced (+-250g)
  • 2T Olive oil
  • Marinade
  • 2 Garlic cloves - grated
  • 1t Black pepper
  • 1t Salt
  • 50ml Olive Oil
  • 50 ml Nagmaalwyn (Sherry)
  • Other Ingredients
  • 2T Olive oil
  • 3 Garlic cloves – sliced thinly
  • 1 Red pepper – cut into blocks
  • 1 Handful of fresh origanum (or replace with ½t dried origanum)
  • 5 Sprigs of fresh thyme (I use the whole sprigs)
  • 1t Smoked paprika (I did not have smoked paprika so I used normal paprika and added 6 drops of liquid smoke to my stock)
  • 1 Big pinch of saffron - soaked in a little bit of water
  • 50ml Nagmaalwyn
  • 500g Paella rice
  • 1.75L Chicken stock
  1. Marinade - Mix all the marinade ingredients together and marinade the chicken for about ½ hour.
  2. Fry the chicken with the chorizo on medium to high heat until nice and brown.
  3. Take out of the pan and add all the rest of the ingredients except the Nagmaalwyn, rice and stock.
  4. Fry for about 5 minutes and then add the Nagmaalwyn to deglaze the pan. Scrape all the beautiful fried pieces from the bottom of the pan.
  5. Then pack the pieces of chicken in the pan – so they are spread evenly and add the sliced chorizo.
  6. Now add ½ of the stock to the pan and then the rice. Make sure all the rice is submerged in the stock.
  7. At this stage you don’t fiddle with the paella – don’t touch it with a spoon, ladle or anything. Cook over medium heat. When the paella looks dry add the rest of the stock and cook till done – about 40 minutes.
  8. Pour yourself a glass of good wine, rope in a few hungry friends and enjoy the flavours and the moment.


cooking paupillette of lemon sole + saffron sauce with reza mahammad

cooking paupillette of lemon sole + saffron sauce with reza mahammad

‘don’t get overwhelmed by the list ingredients – read the method first – then you will find it easy to cook my recipes’ – reza mahammad


As the African sun set over the great Sundays River, I had to pinch myself… the situation was surreal, almost sublime. There I was deep in the Kwazulu-Natal bush at the Esiweni Lodge on the Nambiti Private Game Reserve … just the day before I was at my desk doing my regular duties as communications head at a leading architectural firm, dhk Architects.

For the next 48 hours, I was to be a captive in this wilderness, a captive to my senses. It wasn’t the Big 5 wild animals that roamed the reserve that were making me nervous but the prospect and sheer excitement of meeting world renowned TV Foodie and chef, Reza Mahammad. You see, he is one of my all-time food heroes and by some stroke of sheer good fortune I spent the weekend with him on what I could only describe as a culinary safari of sorts. It was such a fabulous opportunity that I could hardly contain myself. I was there representing Food24 but the truth be told I was more excited than a little girl on big red school bus venturing off to class for the very first time.

reza.JPG 800

Reza Mahammad

The lodge had embarked on a series of culinary safaris where guests would be invited to cook and share the food of well-known chef’s and personalities. It is a good formula and offers an enchanting yet educational break from the humdrum of our daily lives.

Reza Mahammad joined us later the Friday evening jetting in from Cape Town where he was promoting his new TV series. In his latest series, Reza’s African Kitchen, he explores African cuisine, from the spicy Indian influences of Zanzibar, to the indigenous dishes of Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and South Africa. Reza goes on horseback safari, tiger fishing, gets friendly with ostriches, herds sheep, snorkels and more all in an unsatiable endeavour to uncover the diversity of flavours and fabulous ingredients which populate the food heritage of Southern Africa. Back in his own breath-taking African kitchen, Reza uses his travels as inspiration to create his own delicious dishes with a spicy Indian twist!

But now back to the Friday night at the lodge – I was anxious, apprehensive and excited – the spirit of this man and his culinary talents preceded him. Yet, it was odd, I loved the work of this chef before I had even met him…But after spending two days as an apprentice-like food groupie of sorts, I was hanging around his apron tails for the better part of two days … I think I can call him friend. What an individual! What a down to earth talent and yet of such humble and generous spirit. Reza is exactly the way he is on television – open, full of laughter fun and excitement – but what strikes you almost immediately is his dedication and enthusiasm for his work his passion and his food. He started in the kitchen at 6am with Damon (Esiweni chef) in the morning to prep for our workshops – and finished that evening with dessert just before 9.45 pm. To say he is a workaholic would be somewhat of an under exaggeration. Where the energy and passion comes from can only be put down to his deep love of his craft. A craft of which he is a master. He is so proficient – even almost belligerent in the best of ways, he never uses any measuring equipment – it is just a dash of this, a sprinkle of that a few spices here… and there you go – another Reza creation. There are neither airs nor a graces about this man, he preps, cleans and chats and somewhere in-between these masterful dishes just seem to appear.

Through it all we laughed till our bellies were sore, we chatted about food and tips and his new ventures and adventures. We sipped on this, savoured that and let ourselves get lost in this wilderness of food, flora and fauna.

reza mahamma - esiweni lodge

Esiweni Lodge

My lodgings for the next two days was an opulently furnished suite perched high above the meandering Sunday’s river. It was a citadel in the sky, luxurious and just too beautiful all at the same time. My cliff-top chalet had its own private deck with just the most magnificent, sprawling views. I need’nt have gone anywhere and could have sat for the entire weekend sipping endless G&T’s in the rim-flow pool taking in the breathtaking vista and just talking to myself and the animals. I would have done so if it were not for the scheduled game drive which took us into the veld to explore God’s beautiful creatures in the cool of the setting sun.

There were elephants, birds, strange sounds and nature-filled silences, the rustle of bushes and fluttering heartbeats. From the exotic to the unusual – these wild and wonderous creatures seemed to linger in balance around the environs of the lodge. There were no doubt many more creatures wandering around the greater reserve. But the most amazing thing of the lodge was its people – their motto is you come as guests and you leave as friends – it’s so true. The managing couple Natie and Magda are such an engaging and exceptional couple who exude the finesse and hospitality that brings the real charm to this natural hideaway.



I learnt loads of interesting things which I will share in future in my future blog posts. But for now, one of the workshops that we did with Reza on the Saturday is what I want to share ….it is this amazing dish called Paupillette of Lemon Sole with saffron sauce. This dish epitomises Reza’s love for the “Frindien” cuisine, combing classic French food with an Indian twist. This is a not an easy task but this genius does it so brilliantly – this dish not only looks elegant and refined, but the taste is subtle yet complex. The white fish contrasts beautifully with the yellow sauce. This is a perfect dish to impress the best – without having to slave for hours in the kitchen. Don’t be alarmed by the list of ingredients because the preparation is actually quite straightforward. As Reza said – “ don’t get overwhelmed by the ingredients – read the method first – then you will find it easy to cook my recipes’.

cooking paupillette of lemon sole + saffron sauce with reza mahammad
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 6
  • Paupillette of Lemon Sole with saffron sauce
  • Serves 4
  • 6 x 140 – 160g fillets of lemon sole, trimmed, skinned and filleted
  • 150ml dry white wine or Vermouth
  • For the filling
  • 300g raw prawns (net weight, after being shelled and de-veined)
  • 1 tsp grated ginger 2 tbsp finely chopped chives
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped dill 1 tbsp finely chopped coriander
  • Zest of 1 lemon plus juice of ½ a lemon ¼ tsp roughly crushed fennel seeds
  • ¼ tsp chilli flakes salt to season
  • For the Sauce
  • 2 tbsp rapeseed (canola) or vegetable oil1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 2 shallots, finely chopped 2 cloves crushed garlic
  • 1 tsp grated ginger 1 chopped green chilli
  • ½ tsp saffron 1 tbsp. chopped coriander
  • 200ml double cream salt to season
  1. To make the filling - Blitz the prawns coarsely in a food processor. Decant into a bowl and mix in all the remaining ingredients. Divide into six portions and set aside.
  2. Place the sole fillets, with the side that had the skin face up. Lightly season with salt and pepper.
  3. Place a portion of the prawn stuffing on the fillets. Roll the fillets, starting with the thickest part and finishing with the tail.
  4. Place on a roasting tray and pour the dry white wine or vermouth over the fish.
  5. Cover with a grease parchment paper and place in a preheated oven at 180C for 10-12 minutes until the fish is tender.
  6. To make the sauce - Whilst the fish is in the oven, heat the oil in a pan until hot. Add the fennel seeds and allow them to pop for a few seconds. Add the chopped shallots, garlic, ginger and finely chopped chilli. Reduce the heat to medium.
  7. Cook until the onions are soft and transparent.
  8. Once the fish has finished cooking, remove the soles from the oven and pour the juices from the roasting tray into the sauce. Set the fish aside, cover and keep warm.
  9. To the sauce, add the saffron and coriander. Reduce the liquid to half so the flavours intensify. Add the cream and continue to cook for a couple of minutes until the sauce has thickened, become glossy and coats the back of a spoon.
  10. Strain through a fine sieve, and squeeze out all the juices to maximise the flavours. Adjust seasoning.
  11. To plate up - Cut the sole into halves, allowing 3 halves per portion. Arrange on a plate with the sauce around.
  12. Serve with the glazed carrots with maple syrup and mustard seeds.


Esiweni Lodge: +27(0) 36-636-9002
Emails: reservations@esiweni.coza
Reza: @rezamahammad (twitter)

goat curry + saffron egg basmati rice = a delicious indian feast

goat curry + saffron egg basmati rice = a delicious indian feast

goat curry and saffron rice

Goat and Bean Curry: People probably thought I was off my head when I decided to cook goat on Dinner Divas for national television. We have over 50 million people in this country, 11 official languages and a rainbow of cultures – I wanted to show the people of our beautiful nation that it is a healthy and delicious choice. It’s affordable too! Did you know more goat meat is eaten throughout the world than any other red meat? This is a fact!

Goat meat is a healthy alternative to beef and chicken because of its lower calorie, fat and cholesterol totals. It comprises 63 percent of all red meat that is consumed worldwide! Currently, goats make up the main source of animal protein in many North African and Middle Eastern nations. Goats are also important in Southeast Asia, the Caribbean, and other tropical regions across our planet.

saffron basmati rice with goats curry

Anyway, I got a shoulder of goat meat from my mom’s local butcher and decided to transform this into a delicious goat curry. You will often hear people say that goat meat is tough, tastes “funny”, poor man’s meat so to speak…this is where we are naive I think. If we are not prepared to try something and taste for ourselves we will be forever missing out on the real flavours that permeate our society and world. You have to try this goat for yourself. Take my word for it – it’s just delicious.


goat + bean curry
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 4
  • 600g Goat (bite-sized goat pieces – softer pieces no bones for this one)
  • 2t Garlic and ginger mix - see recipe below
  • 2t Green marsala - see recipe below
  • 1t Red marsala - see recipe below
  • 11/2 t Salt
  • ½t Turmeric
  • 2t Medium marsala (curry powder)
  • 1t Cumin and coriander powder
  • 3 Medium onions chopped
  • 1T Ghee or normal butter
  • 2T Olive oil
  • 2 Star Anise
  • 3 Cinnamon sticks
  • 4 Cardamom pods
  • 3 Cloves
  • 410g Rhodes Tomatoes Chopped and Peeled
  • 5 Curry leaves
  • 410g Rhodes Butter Beans in Brine
  • 2T Fresh chopped coriander
  • Fresh coriander for serving
  1. Mix the goat, garlic & ginger mix, green marsala, red marsala, salt, turmeric, medium marsala and cumin + coriander powder together and set aside to marinade.
  2. Fry the chopped onion in the oil and ghee till translucent.
  3. Add the star anise, cinnamon, cardamom and cloves. Fry for 3-5 minutes.
  4. Add the goat and brown the meat.
  5. Then add the chopped tomatoes and curry leaves.
  6. Let it simmer closed on medium heat for about 50 minutes. Stir now and then - add a little water if you see the sauce gets too dry.
  7. After 40 minutes add the beans with the “juice”- and simmer for another 20 minutes.
  8. Taste for seasoning - or if you so prefer, add more chillies.
  9. Sprinkle with fresh coriander just before serving.

saffron egg basmati rice
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 4
  • For rice
  • 1 Cups of Basmati rice
  • A few strands of saffron (if you don’t have saffron use a pinch of turmeric powder)
  • 2T Ghee
  • For onions
  • 3 Large onions
  • 2T Cooking oil
  • 2T Ghee
  • For eggs
  • 4 Eggs
  • 2 Cups of hot water
  • Few strands of saffron (if you don’t have saffron use ½ t turmeric powder)
  1. Cook the Basmati rice as per the packet instructions however add the few strands of saffron to the water and remember to also add salt before boiling the rice. Drain the rice using a sieve. Rinse with hot water. Then add the ghee and lightly mix through.
  2. Cut the onions in side lengths in strips. Fry till golden brown over medium heat in the oil and ghee.
  3. Boil the eggs. Tip: For perfectly hard boiled eggs – bring the eggs to boil and then turn the heat down and let the egss stand in the hot water for 10 minutes.
  4. Peal the eggs.Add the saffron to the water and add the pealed eggs.
  5. Let it stand for about 10 minutes to colour and flavour the eggs.
  6. To serve - Use the rice as a base in your serving dish. Cut the boiled eggs into quarters and place on top of your rice base. Sprinkle the fried, golden brown onions over the rice and eggs and serve immediately.

tomato salsa
Prep time
Total time
Serves: 4
  • 1 Tomato de-seeded and finely chopped
  • ¼ Onion finely chopped
  • 1T Coriander finely chopped
  • 100g Cucumber finely chopped
  • 1 Green chillie finely chopped
  • 1T Cooking oil
  • 1T White vinegar
  • Pinch salt
  • Pinch sugar
  1. Mix all the ingredients together.
  2. Put in bowl and serve immediately as side dish

garlic and ginger mix + green marsala + red marsala
Prep time
Total time
Serves: 4
  • For garlic and ginger mix
  • 2T Minced or grated peeled garlic
  • 2T Grated ginger
  • For green marsala
  • 1T Garlic and ginger mix
  • 2T Green chillies finely chopped or better milled finely
  • 1t Cooking oil
  • Pinch of salt
  • Pinch of turmeric
  • For red marsala
  • 1T Garlic and ginger mix
  • Two red chillies
  • 1t Cooking oil
  • Pinch of salt
  • Pinch of turmeric
  1. For garlic and ginger mix - mix both ingredients together.
  2. For green marsala - put it all ingredients in a mortar pestle and grind together or put through a mill.
  3. For red marsala - put it all ingredients in a mortar pestle and grind together or put through a mill.