I can’t remember when last I took a whole day off to do whatever I wanted to do; a day where I never looked at an email or answered my phone. Ha; well that will never happen. I did manage to take a half day off to do just that, though. I signed up for a Fairlady magazine Readers Day of pure spoiling and pampering, and pure spoiling it was at the Camelot Spa at Le Franschhoek Hotel & Spa. After a delicious lunch my pampering began with a full body massage, facial, pedicure and an Indian head massage. You can’t believe how hungry a girl feels after all that pampering.
Now we all know that Franschhoek has a lot to offer on the food front and I have had many delicious meals there, but never have I had a curry there, and I was delighted to discover that Vanie Padayachee, who I met many years ago when she was cooking up a storm at The Phantom Forrest, was heading the team at the first ever classic Indian cuisine restaurant, Marigold. They opened their doors on December 8, 2016. The opening coincided with the launch of Heritage Square, a proud new addition to Leeu Collection’s portfolio in the quaint Boland village.
Marigold restaurant promises a feast of exotic flavours that will delight any gourmand with a small plates menu inspired by the aromatic and spicy North Indian cuisine. The dishes are rich in fragrant curries and flavourful biryanis with succulent meat dishes cooked in a charcoal tandoor.
When Vanie discovered I was in the restaurant she did what we chefs do for each other – take the agony out of deciding what to eat from a menu so enticing by ordering for us. She ordered a selection of playful Indian savoury appetizers that were totally and utterly delicious and then when we thought it could not get any better, out came the mains.
A choice of delicious layered rice Biryanis, succulent prawns, line fish, chicken and beef kebabs, traditional Indian breads and oh boy…they were light and layered and delicious. The meal ended with a selection of Indian desserts: creamy mango rice pudding, Kulfı on a stick and my absolute favourite, a fennel ice cream – what a feast! This is when you wish you were like a cow with two stomachs to fit in every delicious dish we saw passing our table. You should give the Thali a try. The groans of delight coming from the neighboring tables said it all.
It was lovely catching up with Vanie and she said that she was really happy and proud of her new space, tempering and blending spices to go into her pots. She said she especially loved her visits to India to experience the culture and cuisine first-hand, because it has “broadened her knowledge-base and brings an authenticity and tangible reference of its origins to Marigold’s menu.”
Marigold is simple and elegant and not blinged out. It has beautiful exposed brickwork, original timber ceilings, subtle geometric designed wallpaper and the riempie screen divider above the fireplace perfectly complements the mid-century design of the banquette seating and dining chairs in yellow and orange leather.
The ceramics on the wall by Johannes Scott add pops of colour to the overall scheme. I would love to have them on my feasting table; they are such beautiful works of art.
One of the condiments that I really enjoyed with my poppadum’s was the lemon pickles. Here is my twist on them. This is the perfect time to make them as lemons are in season, so make a few jars and give them to your friends as gifts.
10 very ripe, unwaxed lemons
3 tsp salt
½ tsp ground turmeric
¼ tsp ground fennel seed
2 ½ tsp chilli powder
½ tsp ground cumin
1/1/2 cups caster sugar
Place the lemons into a large saucepan with 4 cups of water and boil gently till the skins are just soft; remove from the saucepan with a slotted spoon and let them cool.
Cut the lemons into quarters over a large boil so that you can catch any juices escaping from them.
Place the lemons into the bowl with the juices and scatter over the salt, turmeric, ground fennel, chilli powder and ground cumin. Give it a stir to coat the lemons, leave them to macerate for 12 minutes.
Stir in the caster sugar and stir till the sugar dissolves.
Spoon into well sterilized jars with tight fitting lids, store in the fridge and use within 3 months.
You can start using the pickle after 3 days.