Siba Mtongana’s new book, Let’s Cook, features delicious recipes for kids by kids, with a little help from Siba herself. For parents who want to teach their kids to cook or spend more time together in the kitchen, try these mouth-watering Sibalicious recipes.

Making chicken pie is a family affair at home, even with the fuss and mess that comes with it. I do the cooking and the kids help with the shapes and patterns for the pie crust. It’s always fun to watch their individual flair and, as mommy’s kitchen fairies, they also help with the cleaning up!

Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 40 minutes
Serves: 4


Pie filling
  • 30ml (2 tablespoons) olive oil
  • 250g bacon rashers
  • 2 chicken fillets, cut into small strips
  • 5ml (1 teaspoon) flaked sea salt
  • 1 large white onion, finely diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 15ml (1 tablespoon) medium curry powder
  • 20ml (4 teaspoons) Indian korma or butter chicken paste
  • 5ml (1 teaspoon) dried mixed herbs
  • 30ml (2 tablespoons) fresh thyme
  • 2 leeks, well rinsed and sliced
  • 20ml (4 teaspoons) tomato paste
  • 325ml (1½ cups) chicken stock
  • 250g (1 tub) cream cheese

Pie crusts
  • 60ml (4 tablespoons) cake wheat flour, for dusting
  • 2 x 250g (2 ready-rolled sheets) shortcrust pastry
  • 1 egg, separated (into egg yolk and egg white)
  • 30ml (2 tablespoons) full cream milk

Kitchen tools
  • Baking tray
  • Large pot
  • Ramekins
  • Alphabet cookie cutters or any shapes

  • Preheat the oven to 190°C.
  • Heat a large saucepan with half the oil until hot. Cook the bacon for 5 minutes. Add the chicken and season. Cook in 2 batches for 3 minutes each until cooked through. Remove from the pan and set aside.
  • For the filling, add some more oil into the same pan and sauté the onion for 4 minutes until soft, translucent and slightly caramelised.
  • Add the garlic, curry powder, korma or butter chicken paste, mixed herbs and half the fresh thyme, stirring continuously.
  • Stir in the leeks. Add the tomato paste and cook for a minute. Pour in the stock and add the cream cheese, stirring until the cheese has melted. Bring to the boil and simmer for 5 minutes.
  • Add the cooked bacon and chicken with their pan juices and the remaining thyme. Stir and cook for 5 minutes until slightly thickened and the chicken has absorbed the flavours of the sauce. This also ensures that all the chicken strips are cooked through.
  • Tip the pie filling into 4 pie ramekins and level it out.
  • To make the pie crusts, lightly flour a work surface and gently roll out 1 of the defrosted pastry sheets and cut out 4 round shapes to cover the top of each ramekin. Crimp the sides of the pastry with your fingers to create a pattern around the edges as pictured.
  • For the pie decoration, cut out letters or shapes from the second pastry sheet, using cookie cutters (or a knife, but an adult should do this). Brush one side of each letter/shape with egg white to glue the pattern into position. Stick the letters/shapes on top. Mix the egg yolk and milk to make an egg wash and brush it over each pie.
  • Place the ramekins on a baking tray and bake for 10–12 minutes until puffed and golden.
  • Serve with a salad or side veggies of your choice.

My kids love ribs and if we are not doing ‘burger Friday’ then it’s any other casual finger food meal like ribs and sweet potato chips with a dipping sauce of our choice. These are always a hit with my kids and have become a menu staple.

Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 1 hour
Serves: 4

  • 1kg pork ribs
  • 180ml (¾ cup) soy sauce
  • 180ml (¾ cup) honey
  • 30ml (2 tablespoons) muscovado sugar
  • 5cm piece fresh ginger, peeled and sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 5ml (1 teaspoon) cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 5ml (1 teaspoon) ground cumin
  • 1 litre (4 cups) warm water to cover

Kitchen tools
  • Baking tray
  • Pastry brush
  • Large saucepan with lid

  • Place the ribs in a large saucepan over medium heat. Mix all the cook-in-sauce ingredients, stirring well to combine. Pour over the ribs until well covered. Bring to the boil with the lid half on.
  • Reduce the heat and simmer for 50 minutes, with the lid half open, until the ribs are cooked and the sauce has reduced slightly. Remove the ribs from the saucepan, place on a wooden board and cut into riblets. Arrange the riblets on a baking tray and baste with the thickened sauce.
  • Place on an oven rack at the top, turn on the grill to 230°C or the highest temperature and grill for 8–10 minutes, keeping a close watch so that they don’t burn. Alternatively, cook on the braai, watching carefully.

Serve the sticky ribs with the sweet potatoes and ranch dressing dip. Enjoy!

This is one family fave that makes a regular appearance in our home. To be honest, I didn’t pay much attention to it until I had kids, and boy oh boy, how they love it! Sometimes I use wholewheat macaroni and chop and change the topping ingredients to their fave veggies.

Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 1 hour
Serves: 4+

  • Topping (optional)
  • 250g bacon rashers
  • 150g cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • Macaroni
  • 500ml (2 cups) macaroni
  • 5ml (1 teaspoon) flaked sea salt
  • Enough water to cover
  • 15ml (1 tablespoon) olive oil
  • Cheese sauce
  • 60ml (4 tablespoons) butter
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 5ml (1 teaspoon) smoked paprika
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 30ml (2 tablespoons) cake
  • wheat flour
  • 30ml (2 tablespoons) cornflour
  • 500ml (2 cups) warm full-
  • cream milk
  • 15ml (1 tablespoon) Dijon mustard
  • 500ml (2 cups) mixed grated cheddar and mozzarella cheese
  • 60ml (4 tablespoons) finely grated parmesan cheese (optional)
  • 5ml (1 teaspoon) flaked sea salt

  • 125 ml (½ cup) grated
  • mozzarella cheese

Kitchen tools
  • 2 baking trays
  • Baking dish
  • Whisk

  • Preheat the oven to 180°C and lightly grease 2 baking trays and a baking dish with oil.
  • First make the topping. Place the bacon on 1 of the baking trays, and in a bowl, mix the tomatoes with the garlic, then place on the second baking tray, so that the cut-side of the tomatoes face upwards.
  • Place both trays in the oven and roast for 25 minutes until the tomatoes are partially dried and the bacon is nice and crispy.
  • Boil the macaroni in salted water, until al dente. Drain and add the olive oil to prevent the pasta pieces from sticking to one another. Set aside.
  • For the cheese sauce, melt the butter in a medium sized, heavy-based saucepan. Add the garlic, paprika and cayenne pepper, then sauté for a minute until fragrant but not browned. Whisk in both types of flour and continue whisking for at least 2 minutes to make a roux (crumbly looking heated butter and flour mixture which is a base for a white or cheese sauce).
  • Reduce the heat to low, gradually whisking in the milk, ensuring that there are no lumps. Bring the mixture to the boil and simmer, and continue whisking for about 5 minutes, until it thickens and the flour cooks out.
  • Remove from the heat and add the mustard, cheddar, mozzarella cheese and parmesan cheese, stirring continuously until melted. Remove from the heat and season well with salt.
  • Do not under season the sauce.
  • To assemble the mac and cheese, mix the cooked macaroni with the cheese sauce until it is completely coated. Spoon into the greased baking dish. Mix the tomatoes and bacon together and scatter over the macaroni, then sprinkle with the mozzarella cheese. Bake for 15 minutes until the cheese has melted.

This platter is a fun way of serving fruits in a different and exciting way. They’re delicious, super easy to make and your kids will love them.

Preparation time: 20 minutes
Serves: 4

  • 1 medium-sized ripe pineapple, peeled and sliced
  • ¼ watermelon, sliced
  • 1 medium-sized sweet melon

Serve with
  • 250g black seedless grapes, rinsed
  • 250g green seedless grapes, rinsed
  • 250ml (1 cup) fresh strawberries, rinsed

Kitchen tools
  • Large and smaller heart-shaped and flower-shaped cutters
  • Platter

  • Create heart and flower shapes out of the pineapple slices by using the large flower-shaped or heart-shaped cutters first, followed by the smaller cutters of the same shapes.
  • Mix and match each fruit shape with another to make a beautiful, colourful platter (see picture). Cut any leftover fruit into cubes and add to the platter along with the grapes and strawberries. Have fun and enjoy!

You can use any fruit available, but watch out for fruit such as apples, pears and bananas that will oxidise (turn brown) and look a bit tired. If you squeeze some lemon juice over them, it will help to prevent the browning

Get creative and transform a boring, ordinary sandwich into something that looks incredible and is easy to eat. To save some time, I usually prepare the cut-outs the night before and simply thread them onto a skewer in the morning, ready for the lunchboxes. Lonwabo, my sous chef, often volunteers to help me make these, which makes it even more fun.

Preparation time: 10 minutes
Serves: 2

  • 2 slices bread
  • 2 thick slices cheddar cheese
  • 6 slices smoked chicken or gypsy ham
  • ½ English cucumber, thinly sliced
  • 6 pieces cos lettuce, torn
  • 6 rosa tomatoes, rinsed
  • 6 round or knotted pretzels (optional)

Serve with
  • Fruits: pineapple wedge, a handful of blueberries and strawberries
  • Plain yoghurt with a drizzle of honey
  • Chilled water or freshly squeezed orange juice with mint
Kitchen tools
  • 6 half-skewers
  • Lunchbox and water bottle
  • Medium star-shaped cookie cutter
  • Non-plastic straw

  • Place the bread slices on a chopping board and, using a 5-pointed star cookie cutter, press out 3 star shapes from each slice of bread and cheese, and 6 star shapes from the cucumber.
  • Thread a star-shaped piece of bread, followed by a piece of lettuce and 2 cucumber stars onto a skewer. Follow this with a slice of smoked chicken or ham, a piece of cheese, a tomato and a pretzel (if using). Pack the skewers into a lunchbox.
  • Pack the fruit into a different compartment of the same lunchbox or in a smaller lunchbox. Serve with the yoghurt, chilled water or orange juice with mint.

The lovely thing about this sandwich is that the ingredients can be chopped and changed according to your preferences. If packing these in for young children, cut off the very pointy bits of the skewers for safety. I usually eat all the leftover pieces so nothing goes to waste, but sometimes I grate the leftover cheese and store it in the fridge, and use the bits of bread to make croutons for salads.

COOK WITH SIBA MTONGANA AND HER KIDS COOK WITH SIBA MTONGANA AND HER KIDS Reviewed by Michelle Pienaar on January 29, 2021 Rating: 5
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