‘Johanne 14’ explores the secrets of simple, home-cooked meals in South Africa’s townships with Hope Malau.
Told through the eyes of award-winning food writer Hope Malau, the book features authentic, traditional dishes cooked with love, and acknowledges the ability of countless unsung kitchen heroes – the mothers, fathers, grandparents and siblings – to make culinary magic with often very little.
It is a vital glimpse into South African township life; moreover, it is a celebration of culture, resilience, human spirit, community and family – through the shared meal.
A head of cabbage can be cooked in so many different ways; it is inexpensive and goes with anything or nothing at all.
You can eat it raw, boil it or fry it, combine it with any other vegetable and it will give you a wholesome meal every time.
Hence was dubbed ‘Johanne 14’ – if you have cabbage you should not let your heart be troubled.
Chef Hope Malau grew up in Klerksdorp in the North West Province eating traditional Sotho food prepared by his dad, who worked in a mine kitchen. Instilled with a deep love for cooking from an early age, Hope went on to study at the Professional Cooking Academy in Rustenburg before garnering experience at various restaurants in Cape Town. He is currently the food editor for DRUM magazine and has also won the prestigious Galliova Food Writer of the Year for the past two consecutive years.
Magwinya (vetkoek) are treats. I love them spilt and lashed with cold salty butter and strawberry jam for breakfast, or a Sunday light supper with various fillings, especially curried mince with extra chilli.
Try this recipe – it’s easy to make and I promise you will end up making it over and over again.
Vetkoek (Afrikaans for ‘fat cake’) is South Africa’s version of the doughnut: fried balls of bread dough. It’s made differently across the country, with or without fillings, and can be served at any time of day. I’m used to magwinya, which is a smaller version – the size of a golf ball, which we’d buy at the tuckshop as kids. The freshly made ones, still hot from the oil, were the best, so we’d try and time it right. We’d leave early in the morning to avoid having to do chores at home, picking up friends who also needed rescuing from housework along the way. We’d put whatever coins we had together – perhaps someone would have saved their school pocket money – and head to the shop to buy magwinya, atchar for dipping in, and a sachet of Drink-O-Pop juice powder. We’d find a place to sit, dilute the Drink-O-Pop in a 1L bottle and quickly devour the magwinya. The faster you ate, the better your chances of getting full.
390g (3 cups) cake wheat flour
70g (⅓ cup) sugar
5ml (1 tsp) salt
5g (1 tsp) instant yeast
160ml (⅔ cup) lukewarm milk
80ml (⅓ cup) lukewarm water
Oil for frying
- Combine flour, sugar, salt and yeast in a mixing bowl and mix well. Add milk and water, bring the dough together, and knead until smooth and elastic. Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover and set aside to rise for 1 hour or until doubled in size.
- On a lightly floured surface, knock down the dough and divide into 40 g portions. Place them on a baking sheet and set aside for 30 minutes.
- Heat oil in a large pot and fry the vetkoek in batches for 5 minutes or until golden. Place on a baking sheet lined with paper towel to drain the oil.
Johanne 14, Real South African Food, Published by Quivertree Publications