The city of Durban, once known as Port Natal, is the third largest city in South Africa, the largest in the province of KwaZulu-Natal. Its rich, multicultural heritage is reflected in the foods that are to be found throughout the city, from spicy, aromatic Indian cuisine and fish and seafood to dishes influenced by the Portuguese, Zulu nation and British. Here are four recipes from the book, Tastes of Durban by David Bird and Deshnie Govender that celebrate the feast of flavours that represent the culinary soul of the city.

Serves 2
For this dish, the Portuguese generally do not use chickens over 1 kg, as each bird serves two. Use an extra bird to feed four people and double up on the rest of the ingredients. Cooking starts in the oven and is finished over the coals.

1 kg whole chicken
Slices of lemon for garnishing

1 Tbsp garlic powder
1 Tbsp coarse salt
½ tsp black pepper
1 cup white wine vinegar
½ cup olive oil
½ cup water
1 Tbsp paprika

Basting Sauce:
1 Tbsp crushed garlic
3 Tbsp melted butter
1 Tbsp coarse salt
½ cup lemon juice
1 Tbsp peri-peri sauce

1. Mix all the marinade ingredients together in a bowl. Cut the chicken through the breastbone. Lay it flat on a clean surface and flatten it with a meat mallet. Score the flesh all over to allow the marinade to penetrate the meat.
2. Place the chicken in a bowl or a plastic bag. Pour the marinade over the chicken, making sure the chicken is well coated with the mixture. Cover the chicken or seal the bag and marinate in the fridge for at least 8 hours and up to 24 hours.
3. To cook, preheat the oven to 180°C. Place the chicken in a casserole and bake for 1 hour. Once the chicken is in the oven, start the braai fire.
4. Mix the basting sauce ingredients together in a bowl. After 1 hour, remove the chicken from the oven and finish off over the coals until nicely done. Baste the chicken with the basting sauce while it is braaiing.
5. Serve with chips or rice, and a salad and garnish with a slice of lemon. Bring the leftover basting sauce to the boil and then drizzle a little over the chicken just before serving.

Serves 4
Fish and chips is a classically British-influenced dish, with shops selling it being the originators of the fast-food industry. I was first introduced to mushy peas by the British owner of a fish and chips shop tucked away under a large block of flats in my hometown, and have loved them ever since. Although the dish can be served with or without the mushy peas, it is certainly greatly enhanced by them.

125 g cake flour
125 g cornflour
2 tsp baking powder
½ tsp turmeric
½ tsp salt
1 bottle/tin (330 ml) beer
1 kg firm white fish
2 cups vegetable oil for frying

Ingredients: Minty mushy peas
350 g fresh or frozen peas
2 Tbsp butter
1 handful baby mint leaves, finely chopped

Beer-battered fish:
1. Sift the cake flour, cornflour, baking powder, turmeric and salt together in a large bowl. Add the beer and stir until smooth.
2. If using one large fish, cut the fish into four pieces.
3. Heat the oil in a deep pan or saucepan.
4. Dip each piece of fish into the batter, coating well. Fry the fish in the oil until the pieces are golden brown. Remove and drain excess oil on kitchen paper.

Minty mushy peas:
1. Boil the peas until soft enough to mash easily with a fork.
2. Add the butter, melting it into the peas, and mash together roughly to make a fairly chunky consistency. Stir in the mint and season with salt to taste.
3. Serve with the fish and fried chips.

Make sure the batter is of a thickish consistency. This will help the batter to stick to the fish.

Serves 4

Kebab usually refers to meat on some sort of skewer, but this dish actually refers to meatballs. Many of the words the Indian community use to describe food have evolved over time. Therefore ‘rice’ refers to breyani, ‘bread’ to roti, and kebabs to meatballs served in this manner. However, when three or four of these meatballs are served wrapped in a roti, they do resemble a kebab, the roti serving as a sort of external skewer.

Ingredients: Kebabs (meatballs)
500 g beef or mutton mince
1 tsp jeera (cumin) powder
1 green chilli, very finely chopped
1 onion, very finely chopped
½ tsp salt
3 Tbsp finely chopped fresh coriander leaves
1 egg
1 cup flour
2 cups vegetable oil

Ingredients: Chutney
5 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 onion, peeled and chopped
1 sprig curry leaves
1 tsp grated garlic
1 tsp grated ginger
½ tsp chilli powder
1 tsp jeera (cumin) powder
1 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp turmeric
2 tomatoes, chopped
1 tsp salt

Kebabs: (meatballs)
1. In a mixing bowl, combine the mince, jeera (cumin) powder, chilli, onion, salt, coriander and egg. Mix well and then form the mixture into balls, about 4cm in diameter. Coat the meatballs with the flour.
2. Heat the oil in a frying pan and fry the kebabs in batches of six, turning until golden brown all over. Remove and drain on a plate lined with kitchen paper.

1. Heat the oil in a saucepan and add the onion, curry leaves, garlic and ginger. Fry until the onion is golden brown.
2. Add the chilli powder, jeera (cumin) powder, coriander powder and turmeric. Stir-fry for a few minutes, then add the tomatoes and salt. Simmer until the mixture is blended together.
3. Once the chutney is ready, add the kebabs to the chutney, heat through and serve with roti.

Serves 8

This recipe, a fusion of Portuguese and Indian cuisine, combines many of the spices used in the cooking of the local Durban communities with many of the kinds of seafood found along the Durban coast.

2 Tbsp olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
2 tsp crushed garlic
1 red pepper, seeded and
thinly sliced
1 tsp ground jeera (cumin)
500 g uncooked white rice
3 tomatoes, peeled and grated
2 cups chicken stock
1 tsp turmeric
½ cup frozen peas
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
250 g kabeljou (or other firm fish), skinned and cubed
200 g prawns, shelled and deveined
250 g half-shell fresh mussels
200 g calamari rings
2 Tbsp finely chopped
fresh parsley
1 cup chopped fresh coriander leaves

1. Heat the oil in a large pan (preferably a paella pan). Sauté the onion for a few minutes, then add the garlic, red pepper and ground jeera (cumin) and fry until the onion is golden brown.
2. Add the rice and tomatoes, mix well and add enough chicken stock to just cover the ingredients.
3. Stir in the turmeric and bring the mixture to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 30 minutes.
4. Add the peas and simmer for another 10 minutes. Taste for seasoning and add a bit of salt as required.
5. Add the fish, prawns and mussels and simmer for 10 minutes more.
6. Add the calamari and parsley and place in a warming drawer for 30 minutes.
7. Season with freshly ground black pepper, then sprinkle the coriander leaves over the paella and serve immediately.

Make sure the mussels are cleaned thoroughly before using them.
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