South African Eats

The charities supported by Elephant Gin are based in Kenya and South Africa, two nations with distinctly delicious cuisines that are heavily influenced by Indian migrants who have settled there over the centuries. With South African Heritage Day this weekend, why not rustle up one of these traditional South African snacks, infused with herbs and spice and all things nice, to chow down on while you sip your Elephant G&T?

Piri-Piri Prawns

Your first thought on hearing ‘piri-piri’ may well be ‘cheeky Nando’s’ – but did you know that the spicy sauce – and the now-ubiquitous chicken chain – in fact originated in South Africa? The recipe for piri-piri (or ‘peri-peri’) sauce was created using the African bird’s eye chilli (also called piri-piri) by Portuguese explorers to the continent. Centuries later Nando’s was founded in South Africa’s Rossettenville 1987 by a local Portuguese restaurateur, who spotted the potential of his popular spicy chicken recipe. Here we substitute shellfish for fowl, to delicious effect.


2 red chillies, seeds removed, roughly chopped

1 dried chilli, roughly chopped

½ lemon, juice only

3 garlic cloves, peeled

1 tbsp sweet smoked paprika

4 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp red wine vinegar

1 tsp sea salt

½ tsp freshly ground black pepper

12 very large prawns, shells and heads on

Lime wedges to serve


Place everything except the prawns into a food processor and blitz until smooth. Place the prawns on a plate and rub over the piri-piri sauce, reserving a little to garnish. Leave to marinate in the fridge for minimum 1 hour, up to 1 day. Heat a griddle pan or BBQ until hot and cook the prawns for a few minutes on each side, depending on their size, until the prawns have turned pink and are cooked through. Serve immediately with the lime wedges to squeeze over. It’s a good idea to provide a bowl for discarded shells and finger bowls as these can get messy!


Bunny Chow

This traditional South African fast-food dish originated in Durban in the 1940s. Consisting of hollowed-out bread filled with curry, it provided a cheap and filling meal that immigrant Indian plantation workers could carry into the fields. The name is thought to come from the banyan trees under which the food stalls were set up. The dish is still popular across South Africa, and these smaller, snack-sized versions make the perfect accompaniment to nice cold G&T.

For a vegetarian version of this recipe, simply replace the chicken with red and white kidney beans.

(Serves 4)

2 tsp olive oil

1 large onion, chopped

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 tsp finely grated fresh ginger

1 tsp cumin seeds

1 tbsp finely chopped coriander stems

3 tbsp curry powder

10 fresh curry leaves

500g chicken thigh fillets, cut into 1cm pieces

1 x 400g tin diced tomatoes

400ml water

2 large potatoes, peeled, cut into 1cm pieces

Mini white bread rolls, to serve

1 bunch fresh coriander, to serve


Heat the oil in a heavy-based frying pan over medium heat. Cook the onion, garlic, ginger and cumin seeds, stirring often for around 4 minutes until soft and aromatic. Add the coriander stems and cook for 1 minute. Add curry powder and curry leaves. Continue stirring for another minute, until aromatic.

Add the chicken and cook for 2 minutes, stirring until just browned all over. Stir in the tomatoes and water. Reduce the heat and add the potatoes, then simmer for 30 minutes or until tender. Season with salt. To serve, scoop out a hollow in each bread rolls and spoon in the curry. Garnish with fresh coriander.

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