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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.

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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)

“viskoekies en tamatiesmoor” – dressed up for a night at the opera

“viskoekies en tamatiesmoor” – dressed up for a night at the opera

“viskoekies en tamatiesmoor” - dressed up for a night at  the opera

Open fish cake lasagna + tomato and gherkin relish – I grew up with fish pasta made with tinned pilchards for Saturday lunch so when Babs invited me for lunch this Saturday past – I knew what was on the menu. I asked my mom to wait for me to get to her place – I grabbed my copy of You can with Fish by Tamsin Snyman and rushed over to her house all inspired. I wanted to show her something different …for all too often we get caught up in the routine, making the recipes we know in the same way we have always made them.

“viskoekies en tamatiesmoor” - dressed up for a night at  the opera

We decided to try Tamsin’s fish cakes (love her use of potatoes in the dish) but replaced the tuna with pilchards – and as I am always prone to do… I added lots of fresh herbs, extra lemon and a Dhanya and Chillie sauce I discovered. We served it with a lasagna sheet and a tomato and gherkin relish. The gherkin gives it that beautiful tanginess and just complements the dish in an extraordinary way. It is kind of like “Viskoekies en tamatie-smoor” just dressed up and off to see the opening night of Verdi’s famous opera, La Traviata… and so, so simple.

Try it. I promise you it will make your heart sing!

10 Famous Italian Operas

1. Aida, by GiuseppeVerdi
2. Cavalleria Rusticana, by Pietro Mascagni
3. Il Barbiere de Siviglia, by Gioachino Rossini
4. La Gioconda, by Amilcare Ponchielli
5. La traviata, by Giuseppe Verdi
6. L’elisir d’amore, by Gaetano Donizetti
7. Madama Butterfly, by Giacomo Puccini
8. Nabucco, by Giuseppe Verdi
9. Norma, by Vincenzo Bellini
10. Pagliacci, by Ruggero Leoncavallo

Opera info from yusypovych.com

“viskoekies en tamatiesmoor” - dressed up for a night at  the opera


“viskoekies en tamatiesmoor” - dressed up for a night at the opera
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 4
  • For fish cakes
  • 1 ½ Medium potatoes
  • ½ Tin sardines + tomato sauce [210g]
  • 1 Egg
  • 1T Bread crumbs [my mom uses all the crumbs from the bottom of her rusks packets – very good idea mom!]
  • 2T Fresh parsley - chopped
  • 1T Fresh coriander – chopped
  • ½ t Chillie flakes – optional
  • ½ T Dhanya and chillie sauce (i discovered this last week in the shop - it adds a lovely zing to this particular dish)
  • 1 Spring onions – chopped
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • Salt to taste
  • Black pepper to taste
  • Sunflower oil for frying
  • For lasagna sheets
  • 4 Lasagna sheets – one sheet per person
  • For tomato and gherkin relish
  • ½ Onion – chopped
  • 1T Olive oil
  • 250g Small rosa tomatoes
  • 200g Dill gherkins – chopped finely
  • 1T Dhanya and chillie sauce
  • 2ml Salt (or to taste)
  1. For potatoes – peel potatoes and boil till soft. Drain well and mash. Set aside.
  2. For fish cakes – mix all the ingredients for the fish cakes and the mashed potatoes together. In a non-stick pan add some oil and fry the little patties until golden brown on both sides.
  3. For relish – fry the onion in pan till the onion is soft and translucent. Add the tomatoes and close the lid for about 8-10 minutes. The tomatoes will burst open, bringing a splash of flavour. Add the gherkins and the salt and mix together. Cook for another minute or two.
  4. For the lasagna sheets – boil with salt as per the instructions on the packet.
  5. To assemble - Put some of the Dhanya and chillie sauce at the bottom of the plate, place or arrange the lasagna pasta sheet on top of the sauce then place the fish cakes on top of your lasagna pasta sheet adding the relish to top off this awesome, but so easy little dish.


20 minutes + salmon + asian broth = healthy hot winter warmer

20 minutes + salmon + asian broth = healthy hot winter warmer

20 minutes + salmon + asian broth=healthy hot winter warmer
I am by nature a foodie and as foodies go, we all have our foodie idols … One of my foodie idols is Chef Peter Tempelhoff – not only is he a great chef but also not too shabby on the eye – oh, who am I kidding everyone … he is hot! And if you come to my office you will see an A3 poster of him hanging next to my desk … but to my utter dismay two of my wonderful colleagues Johann and Pieter gave Chef Tempelhoff a mustache and a tattoo 🙂 … Anyway, two weeks ago I attended the Table of Peace and Unity lunch on the slopes of our wonderful Table Mountain and Peter Tempelhoff was one of the chefs responsible for the starter [miso sesame cured salmon and ginger prawn spring roll with soja jalapeno dressing]. I don’t know if it was the dish or perhaps him walking past that inspired me to do something hot with salmon. So later in the week I visited my Chinese supermarket for some ingredients and over the weekend made this really delicious, salmon in a hot and sour Asian broth. Hope you enjoy it as much as I did! It’s so easy … so tasty and so fresh … and cheers to the hot chef who inspired me to make this dish!

20 minutes + salmon + asian broth = healthy hot winter warmer
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 4
  • 150g x 4 Skinless salmon steaks
  • Salt and black pepper
  • For broth
  • 1L Chicken stock (I use stock cubes for this – that’s what they do in Asia :-))
  • 2-3 Green chillies (...if you like things a little hotter, spice it up with one more ... but not too many as it will overpower your dish )
  • +-20cm piece of lemongrass – crushed with the back of your knife and cut into pieces (if you cannot find it but you do stay in Cape Town – contact me, I have a huge bush in my garden!)
  • 1 Garlic clove – finely sliced
  • 1 Thumb size piece of fresh ginger – finely sliced
  • ¼ Cup of soya sauce
  • 4ml Sesame oil - just under a teaspoon (be very careful that you don’t overdo the sesame oil)
  • Juice of 2 limes (small) or 1 lemon
  • 2 Spring onions – chopped diagonally into thin slices
  • Handful of fresh coriander – roughly shredded by hand
  • Bean sprouts to garnish and to add some crunch
  1. In a saucepan or pot add all the ingredients for the broth – except the spring onions, coriander and bean sprouts. Bring to the boil and simmer for about 5-10 minutes allowing all the flavours to infuse.
  2. In a non stick pan fry the salmon until brown on both sides - +-2-3 minutes on each side should do. The salmon must still be rare inside – but you must be able to flake it with a fork. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. To serve: Pour some of the broth through a sieve into a 4 bowls, add some spring onion and coriander. Put the salmon in the middle of the bowls and add some bean sprouts to garnish. I love fresh ginger so I always add the ginger I used for the broth in my bowl.
  4. Tuck in and enjoy!