Photographs by Craig Fraser/Chef Nti - My Modern African Kitchen/Quivertree Publications

Celebrity chef Nti Ramaboa speaks to us about her new cookbook, My Modern African Kitchen, her relationship with food and her plans for the holidays.

Popularly known as Chef Nti, Nthabiseng Ramaboa’s recently published cookbook is a celebration of our culinary heritage. ‘It was important for me to celebrate maize meal,’ she says, ‘not only as an essential part of SA’s heritage but also as an equaliser in our beautifully diverse country.’ She adds that part of her mission is to instil a sense of pride in what we grew up eating.

Her journey on the road to putting her culinary skills into a book was not an easy one, Chef Nti says. ‘I truly have a newfound respect for authors,’ she laughs. The idea was for her to tell a story about her life journey with food as the central theme. ‘For months, we kept selecting recipes, connecting the dots with the stories,’ she says. As she relived memories, they brought back the food she had enjoyed at the time. ‘I always used food to highlight moments in my life,’ she smiles. ‘I’m the type who centres my trip around food when I travel.’

After selecting the recipes to go into the book, it was a case of deciding how many chapters it would contain. She settled on four, with an entire section dedicated to recipes using the good old South African staple, maize meal.

Photographs by Craig Fraser/Chef Nti - My Modern African Kitchen/Quivertree Publications

The title of the book was only finalised a month before going to print, because they wanted the story to guide them.

‘Food, for me, is a love language,’ says Chef Nti. ‘I have many fond memories and most, if not all, have food at the centre.’ She still recalls coming home from school on a cold winter’s day and walking into a house filled with beautiful aromas from the lentil soups her grandmother was slow-braising.

‘Today, as an adult, cooking is therapy for me,’ she says. ‘And I enjoy cooking for those I love.’ For the holidays, she will be doing just that – spending time cooking with family. ‘I believe in prepping ahead,’ she says, ‘so my Christmas lunch preparations start from the 23rd. It is just a daily feast!’

What will she be cooking up in the new year, we ask? ‘My own show on Netflix,’ she reveals. But she’s playing her cards close to her chest for now. ‘We are talking to a few people, but nothing is finalised yet.’

If her book is anything to go by, it will be just as big a hit!

Photographs by Craig Fraser/Chef Nti - My Modern African Kitchen/Quivertree Publications

Chef Nti’s recipes picks for Jet Club readers


Photographs by Craig Fraser/Chef Nti - My Modern African Kitchen/Quivertree Publications

This is a breakfast-to-lunch-to-dinner type of recipe. And it’s just everything in one pan – so easy.

Serves: 2

· 500g boerewors
· 1 clove garlic
· 3 tbsp olive oil
· 400g tinned tomato and onion relish
· 1 can black beans, drained and gently rinsed under cold water
· Salt and pepper
· 4 large eggs
· Fresh coriander and parsley, for garnish
· French loaf, for serving

1. Remove the sausage meat from the casing, and roll it into about 14 balls.
2. Turn the garlic clove into paste by adding a sprinkle of salt and grinding it with the back of your knife.
3. Heat the oil over high heat in a large pan. Add the boerewors balls in batches and cook until browned inside and the outside is golden and crispy, about 6 minutes.
4. Reduce heat to medium. Add the garlic paste and cook, stirring, until softened and fragrant, about 30 seconds.
5. Add the tomato relish, stirring gently to combine for about 60 seconds. Turn heat down low and cook at a bare simmer for 10 minutes.
6. Add the beans and season to taste with salt and pepper.
7. Using a large spoon, make a well near the perimeter of the pan and break an egg directly into it.
8. Spoon a little sauce over the edges of the egg white to submerge it a bit and contain it, leaving the yolk exposed.
9. Repeat with the other 3 eggs, working around the pan.
10. Season the eggs with a little salt, and place the pan in a 160°C oven for 5 to 8 minutes, depending on how you prefer your egg done.
11. Sprinkle with coriander and parsley, and serve immediately with crusty bread.

I always crack open my egg on the side and take away half the egg white.


Photographs by Craig Fraser/Chef Nti - My Modern African Kitchen/Quivertree Publications

With rump steak and mustard & mushroom sauce

This is a very special recipe for me and a trusted crowd-pleaser. I made it for my first big dining experience at the Durban July in 2015. I have since modified it many times, and it just keeps getting better.

Serves: 2

· 2½ cups water
· Salt, to taste
· 3 cups maize meal
· 2 tbsp butter
· ¼ cup diced spring onion
· ¼ cup diced celery
· ¼ cup diced Granny Smith apple
· ½ cup frozen peas, blanched

1. Bring 2 cups of water to the boil in a heavy-based pot. Add salt to the water.
2. Throw in the maize meal, aiming for the middle. You should now see a tower of maize meal, with its base in the water and top protruding. Do not touch it.
3. Put the lid on and leave it to steam on medium to low heat for 15 minutes, until all the water is absorbed.
4. Using a fork, stir or fluff the porridge until it looks like phutu pap or couscous.
5. Add some more water, about half a cup, depending on how moist you want the end product to be. All the water you add should be instantly absorbed by the porridge. Stir with a fork again.
6. Put the lid on and let it steam for another 15 minutes. Resist the temptation to keep opening the lid, but do open it twice to stir and check that the porridge is not burning.
7. Heat the butter in a pan and fry the spring onion for about 2 minutes.
8. Toss in the phutu pap and fry for 2 more minutes.
9. Add the celery, apple and peas just before serving, and taste for seasoning. Serve hot with the steak and sauce


Photographs by Craig Fraser/Chef Nti - My Modern African Kitchen/Quivertree Publications

There is no way I was going to have a cookbook without a recipe from Mama D herself. When we were growing up, my mom was always creative in the kitchen, always up to something on the stove, making special meals out of nothing. Oh, but she loved baking. I remember coming home to be welcomed by the most beautiful aroma of something or the other in the oven. And everything always seemed so simple. Please try my mom’s coconut jam tart. I know you will be a fan too.

Serves: 6-9

· 4 cups flour
· 3 tsp baking powder
· ½ cup sugar
· Pinch of salt
· 2 tsp desiccated coconut
· 220g margarine
· 3 eggs
· ½ cup jam (any flavour, but preferably apricot)
· ½ cup coconut shavings, for garnish

1. Mix all the dry ingredients together one by one.
2. Add the margarine and the eggs, one by one.
3. Mix until it forms a dough.
4. Use two-thirds of the dough to line a baking pan, using your fingers to flatten it evenly.
5. Cover the remaining dough with cling wrap and freeze to firm up, about 30 minutes.
6. Spread the jam on top of the dough layer in the baking pan.
7. Grate the leftover frozen dough over the jam as a topping.
8. Bake the tart in the oven at 180°C for 15 minutes.
9. Remove and scatter coconut shavings on top. Return the tart to the oven for another 5–10 minutes.
10. When the top turns golden brown, remove it from the oven and let it cool before slicing.

For more information:

CATCH UP WITH CHEF NTI CATCH UP WITH CHEF NTI Reviewed by Jet Club on December 13, 2019 Rating: 5
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