It is Heritage Week in South Africa and what a week to celebrate all things South African. On this day it is traditional for South African’s everywhere to celebrate the way they know best and that is with feasting… Typically a braai, but anything local is extremely lekker (sweet)!!! Nothing brings South Africans closer together than sport and food… in this post we are going to take a peek into three recipe books written by three very different South African chefs, that celebrate our local cuisine.

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Despite their different heritages and the widely varied recipes reflecting this, you will discover some recipes that have crossed all cultural boundaries and define South African food like no other… for example you will find Malva pudding and rusks, South African staples, in each of the books, and each with their own unique twist… Anyway, enjoy your culinary visit.

Three Local Chef’s in Print

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Reuben at Home

by Reuben Riffel

This book is a lovely look into one of Cape Town’s finest chefs. A couple of years ago the Father person and I were invited to a dinner at the One and Only Restaurant, and this cook book was gifted to us as part of the meal. I can only say it was one of the most incredible meals we have ever eaten. From start to finish everything was absolutely perfectly prepared and the meal sublime.

While Reuben Riffel is well versed in restauranteering, his home cooking is something to be marvelled at… breakfasts to love: hmmm French Toast topped with fresh strawberries, crispy bacon and honey comb. We loved his Masala Potatoes and of course Lamingtons. There are some hidden gems in this cookbook: several varieties of chutney, and several variations of risotto… flavours to die for and loads of them.
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Pages on how to create seafood and snack platters… and for all the beautiful creations in the covers of this book there are some wonderful basics: How to cook a gammon, how to roast a leg of lamb how to cook a whole fish on the braai… this book is extremely giftable, not only is it filled with pages of the most beautiful looking meals… the recipes are ones that you can essentially create at home.

If you are looking for extremely tasty and new ideas on old favourites then this is definitely a cookbook for you and Reuben Riffel is a chef to follow.
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Recipes from his book can be found at the publisher’s website:

This book is published by Quiver Tree Publications, and you can take a look inside it at this link.

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Johannes 14

by Hope Malau

This book contains real South African recipes for real South Africans… and is marketed as a township cookbook. In other words, fantastic food we have been eaten all our lives, but without any of the fancy extras and over the top add-ons you would expect from more formal restaurants. This book has everything that you need to teach your children about food from various corners and cultures of South Africa. From the Koeksister to the Koesister, this book covers them all. Not only was it packed with loads of family favourites, but there were a lot of new things for us to try… we did pass on the chicken feet and the pig’s head, but otherwise we were happy to give loads of new recipes a try.
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I think, while our cultures overlap, there is still a lot that is unique to different areas of South Africa… we have spent this year learning about different cultures and regions in South Africa as part of our homeschooling journey and I have to say this book covers South African food like no other and should be the standard book for teaching kids what other cultures are eating in South Africa, with the recipes alongside for them to try and enjoy. From simple street food to massive celebrations, this book has it all… from pilchards to ice pops and everything in-between. We loved how he included street food from around the country… this was a big hit in our home:
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  • Kota from the North West Province and Gauteng: Which is a quarter loaf of bread stuffed with slap chips, Viennas, colony and atchar and basically anything else you can think of.
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  • Bunny Chow from Durban and Kwazulu Natal: The curry version of the Kota, a loaf of bread is cut in half and hollowed out and you fill the insides with curry, and the perfect way to warm up on a cold wintry day.

  • The Gatsby is a Cape Town special: This is a footlong “sandwich,” that is actually much more than a meal: a baguette is sliced in half and then layers of beef strips cooked in masala, lettuce, tomato, cheese, slap chips… everything is placed inside… and say good bye to your day as it will take a while to recover from this feast.
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  • Fish and Slap Chips: I cannot think of any Capetonian who doesn’t think that their local “Chippy” is the best one. But on the Main road in our town you do get the best Fish and Chips and folk come from miles around to feast on them.
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  • The Boerewors Burger from the West Coast: Perfect surfer food, made between two slices of white bread and including a recipe for another local favourite: Monkey Gland Sauce. No,it is not made from Monkey Glands (!)… no idea where the name comes from, but it is a combination of tomato sauce, Worcestershire sauce, chutney, tabasco sauce… you name it and it is in it!!!



Another great feature of this cookbook is the basics: creamed spinach, pickled beetroot and potato salad… not to mention pages of South African sweet treats.

I love how this cookbook is presented, bright and colourful photographs, taken with shweshwe fabric backgrounds, it has a fabulous African feel to it. Honestly this cookbook should be on all South African’s shelves… it is the kind of book that has “that” recipe that you wish you knew, but can’t find anywhere else.

Two recipes from this cook book can be found at the publisher’s website:

This book is published by Quiver Tree Publications, and you can take a look inside it at this link.

Being Bertus Basson

by Bertus Basson.

We have blogged about Bertus Basson before in his book Homegrown, where we used it to demonstrate a truly South African feast, that would be easy to make at home.
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In this book, Being Bertus Basson, you will go on a tour of his restaurants and discovering the unique nature of each of them… the back story behind each of his eateries and why he needed to create them. Not the best book to read during lockdown… considering we could go nowhere at the time, but now we have a wishlist a mile long exploring the Cape Winelands and of course his restaurants.
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I love that this recipe book tells a bit of a story as well as including lots of completely doable recipes that you would find on his restaurant menus. All of the recipes have a South African twist to them, which is exactly what you want from a South African chef. Despite being a recipe book by a leading restauranteur, you will discover a number of very useful and essential recipes to have in any home cooks repertoire. For example, how to roast a chicken and create crunchy battered fish and chips.

Of course we had to recreate his Milktart Milkshake and we have been upping our milkshake game around here ever since. And to be quite honest “Build your own Burger” has become a standard meal at least once a week over here. Otherwise, chip sauces were a huge winner, and his own version of Monkey Gland Sauce.
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The final chapter shows Bertus Basson cooking at home, a Loog into his beautiful gardens, as well as family friendly basics like: omelettes, and an extremely necessary recipe for kale salad… since we have been producing a massive kale crop in our garden recently.
The photography in this recipe book is spectacular… honestly, reading this cook book feels very much like an instagrammable weekend drive into the countryside, with a stop at any of the local Bertus Basson restaurant to savour some local treats.
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You can find a number of his recipes on the Publisher’s website:

This book is published by Jacana Media, and you can take a look inside it at this link.

Some of these books were given to us for review purposes by Quiver Tree Publications and Jacana Media. This is not a sponsored post and opinions expressed are entirely our own, not to mention we fully support local publishers.

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