Siba Mton­gana

The do­mes­tic god­dess, Tele­vi­sion star and col’cac­chio am­bas­sador looks back at The din­ner party That kicked it all off

Condé Nast House & Garden - - LAST ROUND -

‘I had some im­press­ing to do as the fam­ily’s young mas­ter chef ’

It goes with­out say­ing that I en­joy host­ing a crowd, whether it’s an elab­o­rate din­ner party, a high tea or a ca­sual lunch. The most fun part, for me, be­sides the cook­ing and bak­ing as­pect, has to be the prepa­ra­tion that comes with it. That’s some­thing I’ve learnt to mas­ter over the years. It was not al­ways the case, though. In my younger days I had a lot to learn about the art of plan­ning, which let me tell you, can be a deal breaker. My sav­ing grace was grow­ing up in a big fam­ily where din­ner for 12 was the norm, so cook­ing up a storm for a crowd (as well as years of as­sist­ing my mom and older sib­lings in the kitchen) is some­thing that came easy to me – the bless­ing of hav­ing so many rel­a­tives.

one of my ear­li­est din­ner­host­ing mem­o­ries (and one of my most mem­o­rable) was the night of my grad­u­a­tion. I’d just com­pleted my bach­e­lors de­gree in Food and Con­sumer sciences with ma­jors in Food sci­ence and nu­tri­tion. I hosted the party at my sis­ter’s place in Cape Town, as I had just come out of univer­sity and my whole fam­ily was down from east Lon­don to cel­e­brate this mile­stone with me.

on the menu: a starter of mfino frit­ters, a recipe cre­ation in­spired by my mom’s mfino – a mid­day meal made mainly of spinach, wild leaves mixed with maize meal and be­comes a soft yet crumbly mix­ture eaten mostly by women and chil­dren us­ing their hands. I re­vamped this into frit­ters and topped it with soy mayo and flakes of smoked salmon. It was an in­stant hit that re­ally res­onated with my fam­ily. The recipe would end up mak­ing it onto my cook­ing show, Siba’s Ta­ble on Food net­work, and my cook­book, Wel­come to My Ta­ble. For the main course I went seven-colour style, which is equiv­a­lent to a sun­day lunch, and just re­placed a few el­e­ments with then new in­gre­di­ents to cre­ate some ex­cite­ment. I had some im­press­ing to do as the fam­ily’s young mas­ter chef who was now fully qual­i­fied to en­ter the food busi­ness. I had my lamb roast and gam­mon – two glo­ri­ous crowd pleasers for any cel­e­bra­tion – while on the side, cous­cous in­stead of rice, beet with goat’s cheese in­stead of the tra­di­tional vine­gar and sugar, ap­ple and mint slaw, my chakalaka with thyme and a hit of gin­ger and baby potato salad (yip, when cook­ing for my mom po­ta­toes are a must-have) and I count them as a veg­gie not a carb. I gave them a small twist by us­ing crème fraîche, sliced red onion and dill in­stead of mayo and pars­ley. I rounded off the evening with my no-non­sense, easy to make jelly-free tri­fle with berry coulis. It was an un­for­get­table feast that marked only the be­gin­ning of great things to come.

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