NOAH & HIS ARK SHARP 50 - BLOG - 935 Part 2: Noah and his rowing boat.

JANUARY 8TH 2014 – SUMMER IS A TIME when I have to fix all the things that winter choses to wreck. Although Jack Frost didn’t arrive, the Genesis flood did.

This prompted a terrified reaction from one of my neighbours a retired couple. An email arrived advising me that the dam walls were about to collapse, and that the resulting flood would sweep them, their farmworkers, two pooches and a modern day concrete manor away.
MOODY VIEW OVER DAM - CROP - SHARP 50 - BLOG - 935 - IMG_6334 I was sceptical. After all, they live almost a thousand meters away from Tangleberry Cottage. The lake only accommodates 10000 cubic meters of water when filled to the brim, not exactly Lake Malawi. At a pinch, that’s just enough to launch an ocean-going rowing boat with seating arrangements for Noah, his wife and a ice-bucket with two chilled bottles of champagne. However warnings should be heeded as Papa use to say, regardless of whether I thought it was an exaggeration, the truth or plain paranoia.

So off I drove from St James, two pooches, Tyson and Sage in tow in my bouncing bakkie, with worry lines spread across my forehead.
BOY WITH SURFBOARD - SAT 40 - CROP 1 - SHARP 120 - 935 - BLOG - IMG_8326 Half my journey is spent along the scenic Baden-Powell drive which makes my trek enjoyable. It was a calm overcast and grey day. Darkened skies threatened to rain down buckets on the whole expanse of False Bay. Addicted fishermen defied the weather. Ardent surfers stood floating Christ-like, waiting patiently for the swell to arrive. Upright in their black rubber wetsuits they seemed mesmerised by time, like Buddhist monks in sanctuary. A little boy stood spellbound by the breakers with his dad’s surfboard. Is this the day he takes his first tentative steps into the big ocean? Does he have the courage? Life guards watched shark-eyed. Others, unconcerned pass by.
LIFEGUARD - LIN CONTRAST - SAT 40 - SHARP 100 - BLOG - 935 - IMG_1297 As my bakkie wound its way along the beach road, a warm glow flickered through the clouds. There was an openness, a breath-taking panorama that reveals the whole of False bay on one side. Running alongside of the ocean, I could hear the clickity-clack on the rail tracks, soon followed by brake squeals as the metro trains entered Muizenberg station. Quite different to the opposite side of the street, where a range of eclectic buildings of a bygone era of moulds and cornices, some opulent and ornate, line the road.
SURFERS RUNNING - SAT 30 + SAT 20 - BLOG - 935 - IMG_8316 Within a few minutes the openness was gone. The density of buildings was unexpected, shutting out the ocean light. It always takes me by surprise, the sudden gloom. Residential houses, abandoned buildings all boarded up, a lone skyscraper with people and shops all crammed together and on top of each other. The soothing quietness of the ocean was gone, only to be replaced with the roar of traffic. NINJA BEGGAR - CROP 2 - BLOG 2 - IMG_2582 Then there was the gridlock. Newspaper sellers and street vendors hustled their wares – mobile spare parts, wooden spoons, knock-off sunglasses were being flashed at me while I waited to be released from the congestion. Eventually the wheels turn.

Once past the hubbub of honking traffic, needles of sharp light pierce the clouds and started moving around the streets like war-time searchlights. The dusky air soon revealed a dapple light reminiscent of watercolours in a dawn mist. It’s school holidays and dads, mums and their children play putt-putt golf. The more hyperactive scream with delight as they slithered down the goofy slide. FISHING IN A INCOMING STORM - DESATURATED SKY 2 -  IMG_7074 By the time I reached Baden-Powell Drive the cinereous landscape was gone – it was a blue sky kind of day. Stratos clouds half scrimmed the sun like incandescent light bulbs for die-hard sun-bathers. Flamingoes clustered in the Muizenberg estuary, trawling their faces through the silt, rich in brine shrimp and blue-green algae, that wound its way to the waterways of Lakeside. FLAMINGOES CROP - SHARP 75 - BLOG - 935 - IMG_5410 The Flamingo’s ability to separate mud and silt from the food they eat, while their heads are vertically down is a true marvel of nature. Defying gravity and forcing food up that long neck would indeed have got Sir Isaac Newton to reconsider his theory of gravity – momentarily at least. I’m sure fussy eaters would love to have that spare part available in the vestibules of their mouth. Imagine being able to separate what vegetables they liked, “Oh NOO!! Don’t like those carrots . . out you go . . . Yuk!”.

However is trawling your face through Winter Minestrone soup specially prepared by The River Cafe, Thames Wharf in London, at a diner party thrown by Jacob Zuma in his private residence, Nkandla a small price to pay for that peculiarity? I doubt it, if you are a finicky eater. FAMILY FISHING - SHARP 100 - CROP - BLOG - 935 - IMG_7802 The ocean gently lapped against the shoreline. For the mid-week crowd, it was a day for patience. Several families out to catch their supper took matters seriously – fishing rods dug deep into the sea sand, while their children laughed and played. An old hobbling grandpa quipped at me, nodding his head with a knowing look,

“There’s plenty of Kob out there. They’ll come in, you wait and see!”

I just wondered when.

Fishermen were trek-netting, surrounded by excited seagulls trying to snatch some of the lively silvery Harders that squirmed in their nets. Drivers passing by, stopped to watch as the fishermen with the help of several onlookers huffed and puffed, dragging quite a sizeable catch in, and against all odds – an out-going tide.


I arrived at Tangleberry Cottage to find one of the four 2-meter outlet pipes completely dislodged and tossed like a rag doll several meters away from the dam. The power of moving water.

As for the dam it was pretty intact and highly unlikely to collapse. This was confirmed by my other neighbour Pieter du Toit, a seasoned farmer, and raconteur about fixing things that go wrong on a farm. Apple juice runs deep through his arteries giving him a flush look of health. I emailed my retired city neighbours to placate their concerns. DARK CLOUDS OVER DAM - CROP - BLOG - 935 - IMG_8263 The Elgin Valley had 50% more rain last winter than usual, so I was informed one day when picking up a couple of bottles of delicious ‘Magnifico’ wine from a neighbouring wine farmer Mike Krief at Belfield wines.

I’d often looked up into the blackened skies for some sign from the powers above. Maybe I should not have built a cottage out of bricks and mortar, maybe wood would have being more appropriate? I’m certainly surrounded by enough timber. And if the water table continued to rise, then I would simply float away.

The sign from above never came, which I suspected had something to do with the fact that the travels through my life were not as saintly as Noah. The rain simply served to high-light the builder’s other mistakes. Like how he forgot to put screed and water-proofing under the wooden floor. And how the walls were not protected from the flooding gutters that were not correctly installed. This led to seepage through the mortar that passed through plasterwork and paint on the inside. The interior of the cottage soon started to resemble a Jackson Pollock painting.

And so, for most of the winter I trudged through the pouring rain visiting experts at various building establishments. I listened carefully to their solutions and duly coughed up lots of moola to smiling faces. I applied several of their recommendations.

In the weeks that followed I enjoyed beautiful white spaces. Unfortunately that was a temporary reprise. Mark Rothko joined Jackson Pollock and out I went in search of more cures from the building magicians. When summer arrived with the warm weather, Mr Pollock and Mr Rothko left. Now as winter has just arrived my uninvited guests did not turn up. HANDFUL OF PINE BOLETES - SHARP 150 - IMG_8210 BLOG As I write this letter, it’s early winter. The Cape weather has settled in. Several rainy days are followed by one or two sunshine days – perfect for hunting wild mushrooms; the scents in the forest would be alive with earthy, rich, nutty flavours – BOWL OF SLICE MUSHROOMS - CROP - IMG_8276 My winters was about praying for a few sunny days to fix all my problems. Sadly, days of radiant sunlight were never there long enough. Snow arrived. And dear Santa threatened to ski down the Hottentot-Holland mountains. It was too dangerous for the fellow – the snow ran out halfway down the mountain. SNOWY AUGUST - CROP - SHARP 50 - 935 - IMG_2334 Santa turned out to be a drunken gentleman wandering along the N2 with an equally intoxicated Rastafarian friend. Other than a few tassels around his private parts, he was naked. Over the next few days they wandered up and down the N2 undeterred by the chilly weather.

The soggy weather continued with more days of rain. This gave us an excuse to light the fire, roll up our sleeves and enjoy many glasses of red wine and sumptuous winter meals. Occasionally at the end of the evening we’d prepare a potjie, then hang up the cast-iron pot on the steel bar that crosses over the fireplace. POITJIE IN FIREPLACE - BLOG - 935 - IMG_2703 Throughout the night the delicious flavours bubbled from the dying ashes of the evening’s log fire, driving our taste buds insane as the fragrances wafted through our minds while asleep. Was this a wise decision? No it wasn’t. By 5am I had the munchies. I soon discovered getting out of bed without disturbing Bonnie was not easy, especially with an alert Tyson around. A mumble in her sleep brought the point home, “Hungry, are we Michael?”

The following day, I told my gastronomic indulgent epicurean friend Ian Difford about the delicious meal. He seemed to have the same idea. Within minutes I received a photo on my iPhone of his Alikreukle potjie he was cooking in his shack in the Eastern Cape, as well as his recipe.

snippet When spring arrived with its multitude of flowers to brighten up the blanket of green, the sun simply decided to extend its sleeping hours. Rain continued to belt down well into the first two weeks of summer.

The wet spring however did not deter the randy animal folk in the valley.

Birds, bees, duikers, otters and the odd porcupine were all fornicating. Some quite blatantly. Baby frogs were hopping here and there and everywhere, including one large Cape Ghost male frog, whom I called Monty. He chose to spend the night in the comfort of my left boot. How he got into the cottage and pass me that evening was something I could not fathom. Besides his considerable size, I’d also chosen to have an early night. My conclusion was that poor Monty must have been in search of a lady friend. Tired and exhausted he probably thought the comfort of my size 11 boot to be a safe place to renew his energy.

The fact there were thousands of young nubile ladies croaking pleasurable come-ons throughout the evenings, some thirty meters away in the lake didn’t help him. The male Cape Ghost frog has no sense of direction. I find these amphibians staring blankly at the white plaster walls, at their reflections on the glossy green shutter doors, behind the cottage along the retaining wall, often buried in the Agapanthus and nasturtiums completely perplexed or in the hollow of the willow tree confused, and all the time with their backs to the lake. I’ve even seen them hopping up the dirt track that leads to the tar road and the pounding apple trucks and irrational taxis. They don’t believe in travelling in a straight line. In a frog race, not one would win. What a silly thing to do they’d probably think. As one Cape Ghost frog said to the other. GHOST FROG - CROP - BLOG - IMG_1776 “I’m going to Grabouw to find myself a wife and make babies”.

“Why not via Cape Town”. Said the other frog.

“Hey! Maybe even Marrakech. Although that is probably a bad idea as there’s very little fresh water. And you remember what happened to grandpa Bromidic when he jumped off the cliff into the sea?”, Said the first frog with slight concern in his voice.

The other frog thought about what his friend had said. And yes he remembered when the search party found Grandpa Bromidic, he looked like dried out brown cardboard and textured like a Ring lizard handbag. All the moisture had been sucked out of him caused by the sea salt and the burning sun. But so what, the adventure would be fantastic for his friend. He was sure there must be a few lakes. Lakes were everywhere – what country doesn’t have a lake? With nonchalance he answered his friend.

“But does that matter?”

“NO, of course not!” Said the first frog with eyes beaming brightly.


The discovery of Monty was by accident. Early one morning the water supply was temporary disconnected for repairs by Groenland Water. To complicate matters, the borehole pump did not work – another builder’s mistake.

The arrival of the plumber thirty minutes early forced me to rush my morning beautification. As I hurriedly put my boots on, I felt that the left side boot had contracted a size smaller. Assuming the old sock was still in there and with no time to retrieve it, I rushed, hopping, skipping and jumping to meet the plumber, who by now was honking his bakkie horn for the sixth time and driving the dogs dilly. We quickly spoke about meeting at the water connection point some three hundred meters away.

But by now the pain was excruciating. Throbbing spasms were rushing up from my crunched-up metatarsals up into my fibula. My thigh bone said, “THAT”S ENOUGH . . . ENOUGH . . . ENOUGH!” Off came the boot there and then. I reached inside for my sock. Instead I pulled out this palpitating, somewhat disorientated, squished eye-blinking large male Cape Ghost frog. I watched guilt-ridden. Had I murdered him unintentionally? I was in too much of a hurry, I told myself. I had to pass the guilt buck. The plumber must also bear some responsibility I thought. After all if he hadn’t honked his bakkie horn so insistently, Monty might have been discovered earlier – I would have looked inside the boot. LAKE LOW ANGLE - CROP - SHARP 100 - IMG_8420

While I was thinking of whom else to pass the guilt on to, when Monty mushroomed to double his size. His sparkle soon recovered when his focus fell on my gazing eyes. With a quick hop, he left the palm of my hand with the agility of Chad le Clos. I saw that his sense of direction had improved with a good night sleep. He continued hopping all the way to the lake’s precipice, then without consideration to self-preservation he dived off, muscular legs flaying in the air to land plop in the lake’s chilled blue water. The only problem for Monty was that female frog population sleep during the day. But by night time he’d be well on his way to Marrakech.


I’d like to add that Monty has been back several times to visit. Always parked in front of the glossy green entrance double-doors staring at a reflection of himself. Maybe he’s Oedipus reincarnated? Occasionally he brings a mate along; usually a younger frog. Perhaps it’s a pupil or even a protégé? Entering Tangleberry Cottage could be the equivalent in frog-land to breaking into Pick n Pay, Constantia. You never know.

But I think he expects me to invite him in. Maybe he has developed a special fondness for my boots or maybe, even me? Stranger things have happened.


An old friend Alice, buxom and resembling a rosy-cheeked mother Hubbard, who is in her late fifties, farms piglets between Montague and Bredasdorp. Alice’s divorce settlement some twenty years ago encouraged her to make her childhood dream come true. ‘Old MacDonald’ had been her favourite nursery song and she wanted to truly live it. Her children of course thought she was completely nuts. After all, what does a city lady of forty years know anything about farm life?

They decided that with all the pain and suffering Alice went through in her twenty years of marriage, they would humour her for the time being, thinking is was just a passing phase. Alice had also recently gone teetotal, another possible side-effect they thought. But Alice has a mind of her own. And so, some months later she had started her new life.

Alice has a large pet bullfrog which she named Bertie.

Bertie is firmly ensconced in her private bathroom with all the creature comforts of life. He has his own bed with cushions, pillows, blankets and even a heater for cold winter nights. When Indian summer days arrive he is treated to the cool breezes from her portable fan. When in need of female company, he goes and comes as he please. Occasionally the odd paramour is heard croaking huskily along with him.

Alice has given Bertie his own front entrance, beautifully crafted out of the base of the Oregon Pine bathroom exit door, courtesy of her friendly neighbour Ronnie, a retired carpenter who has a keen eye for Alice. This suits all of Bertie’s residential needs. It certainly beats the muddy sludge of the pig pen where he resided prior to Alice’s arrival.

Each morning when Alice prepares breakfast for the piggies mums, and there are twelve of them, who are absolutely humungous on account of the fact that they are virtually, permanently pregnant, she also prepares a few tidbits for her Bertie. “A plate full of fresh snails is a good way to start Bertie’s day. And the juiciest, plumpest ones are found in winter when they go into hibernation in some dank spot, all clustered together procreating,” says Alice.

With conspicuous relish Bertie woofs the snails down. His gastronomic indulgence is aided by Alice extracting the snails from their shells. If she is having a busy morning, she leaves the shell on – this off course turns into a game of patience for Bertie. Sometimes he can’t cope, when the snails all come out of their shells at the same time. The poor fellow just doesn’t know which way to turn.

Like all pet lovers Alice likes to spoil her precious friend. When she comes back from a day of trout fishing with her friend Ronnie, she cuts up the fish into frog mouth-sized pieces.

There is only one problem with Bertie’s harmonious life. Alice has a pet Cape Cobra called Henry. He resides under her verandah steps in a specially-made home with all the creature comforts any reptile would ever want. Comfortable fresh hay, fresh water and a regular supply of ‘morsel of country mouse’. Henry also acts as Alice bodyguard. Cautionary signs are placed in strategic positions at the farm entrance and along the fence lines, warning passing skelims of the reptile. And when October arrives, a second sign goes up. “Beware snakes breeding”.


Henry like all creatures of this earth has a sixth sense. He likes to have his meals early. And to this end Bertie encourages him unintentionally. Breakfast time arrives just as the sun peaks above the horizon. As the fragrances of snails start wafting through Alice’s homestead, Bertie’s oesophagus starts to pump with excitement like a balloon inflating and quickly deflating. This releases his pheromones. The spicy delectable aromas immediately permeate through the nooks and crannies of Alice’s homestead and into Henry’s boudoir.

It’s not long before Henry feels a tickling sensation in his nostrils. Bertie’s spicy bouquet works quickly. And from his deep slumbers his deep black eyes pop open. From a mist-like sleepy quality they are soon ablaze with hunger.


Bertie also has a sixth sense. But his is not as distinguished at his housemate’s. He wasn’t bestowed with an early warning system that would have included sensing Henry’s pheromones from fifty paces. Sound, light and Alice are his only saviours.

Henry knows where Bertie lives. And his nose tells him when Bertie has started enjoying the fragrant pleasures of the gastropod mollusks; the frog’s pungent bouquet reaches Henry just after Bertie’s first gulp. However all of Henry’s attempts to scoff Bertie down have failed, but this doesn’t deter this indulgent bon vivant reptile. Every morning Henry’s mission is the same. Scoff the fat bullfrog down his throat before Alice sees him. But unfortunately, Alice has an excellent sense of smell and hearing and she knows what favourite morsel her sneaky pet likes.

This gourmand reptile is slowly starting to learn that it’s all about precise timing. He waits for Alice to feed Bertie first and when she turns her attention to feeding the piggies, he slinks away from his verandah home. But to date his sense of timing has been thwarted by several adversities. He’s concluded that it’s more that just timing, he needs luck. But even luck wont bestow any gifts on him.

There is another problem which Henry is unaware of. Alice is a Gemini. She changes her behaviour according to her mood. And her mood is determined by many factors. Did she go to bed later than usual? Did she forget to take her make-up off the night before? Did her daughter Susan phone to borrow some money? Is Lou Lou her oldest mummy piggie suffering from pregnant anxieties? Why is Nou Nou her youngest pregnant mother piggie so disinterested in sex? Bou Bou her newly purchased young stud certainly has no such issues. He’d be quite happy to be permanently attached to all the twelves sows, if it were possible.

These and many other questions affects Alice’s mood. She might decide to serve Bertie’s breakfast between the mummy piggies breakfast or at the end. And what about the rest of the menagerie that live on the farm. The chickens. the six dogs, five cats, the four goats, the fifteen lambs and the eight cows. They have to be fed as well.

To compound Henry’s problems, Alice’s excellent sense of smell can detect the slightest change in the air. Henry’s pheromones, a distinct blend of marsala, warns her that the greedy reptile has managed to get into her home. Alice immediately stops whatever she is doing. She needs to identify exactly where he is, and quickly. Her home is a labyrinth of passages and rooms, useful to confuse any burglar – but not Henry.

Alice has her own stratagem. Soon she is rewarded with creaking of the floorboards that were deliberately loosened. She then rushes to save Bertie.

The sound of the creaking floorboards also warns Bertie, who immediately has an apoplexy. He immediately starts to croak hysterically. His deep throaty call for help reverberates through the still country air. This hastens Alice. Her speed picks up.

Within a few seconds Alice spots Henry slithering towards her bathroom. And after a nanosecond Henry finds himself on the porch. This is followed by a long lecture on kindness and consideration to God’s other creatures, especially her friends. And besides, she reminds him, that he is already spoilt with lovely mousy morsels.


I looked down at Monty and asked myself, do I need such complications in my life? No of course I don’t. So I picked him up, much to the horror of Oliver our farmhand, who considers them tokolosh, walked across the green lawn up and plonked him by the lake’s edge where he’d be safe from any of Henry’s friends.



Summer also brought a rich choice of vegetables. Our pumpkin patch was blooming with deep-yellow lily-like flowers. And within a few weeks, through the magic of nature and the help of some homemade chicken compost, our first pumpkin was born. Andre’s, our farmhand couldn’t contain his excitement as he majestically held this cultivar of squash like a proud father. Before long he was doing a Nadal on me. I thought maybe he’d won the Grand Prix at the local pumpkin challenge. Oliver joined in the excitement and dug up a few hundred Mediterranean potatoes. PUMPKIN TART WHOLE - SHARP 150 - 935 - IMG_8609 As summer got on its way, two babies pumpkins arrived, then three and . . . but farmlands have wandering hands hiding in bushes and our crop stayed with three. Now encouraged by our success, we planted more. We added more pumpkins, butternut and some exotic potatoes. And not long after, roast vegetables became very popular on our daily menus, quickly followed by tarts, brioche, muffins, cakes, ice-cream and of course soups, stews and pies. PUMPKIN FLOWER - CROP SHARP 100 - BLOG - IMG_6215


If you should attempt this recipe and are not satisfied, please direct your mirth to Mr Ian Difford –

2 x red peppers sliced.
1 x large onion chopped.
2 x smashed garlic cloves.
15ml butter
30ml olive oil
1 cup arborio rice
125 ml good white wine
500 ml fish stock
1xPortuguese Chorizo
About 15-20 thinly sliced Alikreukle.

Use cast iron pan or potjie pot. Best on open fire as a paella would be made. Use good hard wood like Kameeldoring.

Boil Alikreukle in sea water until loose in shell. Discard face plate and viscera. Slice thinly.

Add butter as soon as it is foaming add onion peppers and olive oil.
When onion softens add thinly sliced Alikreukle, garlic and Chorizo. Sauté for about 5 minutes.
Add the rice and stir fry until it has absorbed the oil.
Add the wine and boil off.

Add the fish stock.
Get heat to low and cook until liquid is absorbed.

Garnish with fresh parsley.

This unusual but not unexpected Italian recipe is a lovely way of using mashed pumpkin. I discovered it in Stephanie Alexander’s bible. Served alongside a salad of rocket with parmesan shavings or chicken breast pan-fried in butter with sage leaves, or with saltimbocca alla romana. Treat this enjoyable sweet and savoury tart as a first course or on its own as a light meal.

We didn’t have a jar of Mustard Fruit around, so we used some of our homemade Apple & Courgettes Relish. You can use anything as long as there is a balance of sweet and savoury.

1/2 quantity shortcrust pastry
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 delicious just ripe pumpkin
Amaretto filling
several sage leaves 50g butter
olive oil

Line an 18cm loose-bottomed flan tin or pie plate with pastry and bake blind at 200c for 20 minutes. Remove pastry case from oven and reduce oven temperature to 180c. Mix eggs into pumpkin and amaretto filling. Drop sage leaves and butter into a small heated frying pan and stir until foaming and leaves are crisp

Drain on kitchen paper, then chop and add to filling. Tip mixture into prepared pastry case and level surface. Drizzle with oil and bake for 25-30 minutes until firm. Cool a little before serving.


500g of peeled and seeded pumpkin
75g of mustard fruit or a sweet and savoury relish
1/2 cup breadcrumbs 1 tbs of Amaretto di Soronna liqueur
freshly ground black pepper
freshly grated nutmeg

Steam pumpkin until al dente. Then mash and add mustard fruit, breadcrumbs and liqueur. Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg. If you like a bit of heat add some finely chopped chillies. Mix gently.

My mother was born Raymonde Quintual in Pau, South Western France during the roaring 1920’s. She left at an early age for Pondichery, on the East India coast. She lived there until she married, age 18 to my father in 1944.

Ma loved cooking. In particular Indian, Persian and middle eastern cuisine. We, her seven children, continually experienced her delicious curries influenced by French style of cooking – using goose fat, long-cooking stocks and creams. The aromas emanating from her kitchen drove our taste buds and imagination wild. With exotic fragrances continually wafting through the air, we permanently suffered from the munchies. When the school holidays arrived, Ma would be surrounded by many willing kitchen staff.

Having grown up with the influences of exotic cuisine, it was inevitable that I would end up stuffing a pumpkin. I’d just about stuffed everything else – cabbages rolls, ricotta and pesto in tomatoes, chorizo and chopped tomatoes in avocados, artichokes with savoury couscous, falafel-stuffed eggplant with tahini sauce and spicy tomato relish, chicken, feta, pesto and white beans stuffed zucchini boats, quinoa-stuffed bell peppers, squash blossom stuffed with goat cheese and sweet peppers, curried black quinoa buried in roast onions, stuffed Jalapeños . . . well maybe not everything. I haven’t tried scorpion stuffed with tofu and chopped habanero chilli.

FOR THE BOUQUET GARNI (All ingredients to be heated in a dry pan until fragrances are released).

6 large white cardamon pods
1/2 Tbsp of cumin seeds
1/2 Tbsp corianders
1/2 t of black peppercorns
1 stick of cinnamon
2 Star anise

1 medium size pumpkin
500 g of blade beef
4 jalapeño chillies finely chopped
4 T of turmeric
2 Tbsp of goose fat or butter and olive oil mix
2 onions coarsely chopped
I piece of ginger peeled and grated.
1 Tbsp of garam masala
1 stick of cinnamon
300ml of coconut milk
1 tin of chopped tomatoes
750ml of Beef stock

Curry is always best made the day before.

Cut the beef into large bite size chunks and place in a bowl. Sprinkle the turmeric and turn mixing evenly over the meat. Cover and leave for a few hours.

In a pot add the goose fat, chopped onions, chillies. Fry until golden brown. Add turmeric-coated meat and fry until meat is sealed.

Add garam masala, cinnamon stick, ginger, tomatoes and stir. Add beef stock, bouquet garni and stir. Bring to boil then reduce to a simmer. Add coconut milk and continue to simmer until meat is cooked. When meat is cooked take out the meat and put away in a sealed container. Carry on cooking until the sauce is thickish. Turn off the heat and let the curry sit.

Take a whole pumpkin and place in a baking dish with tin-foil in a pre-heated oven, set at 200 c. Check after 45 minutes to see if the pumpkin has softened a little. If so, take out the pumpkin and cut a round hole. Lift the lid out and put aside.

Scrape out all the seeds. Pour in some of the curry until 2/3rd full and place the pumpkin lid back on. Put back into the oven and continue cooking. When pumpkin is cooked add the meat to the curry in the pumpkin. Cover lid and place back in the oven. Turn the oven off.

Now start cooking the rice.

I learnt to cook this style from a Brazilian friend who I shared a flat with in Chelsea, London. Claude’s cooking was sorely missed when he left on his great adventure with his sixty-five year old grandmother. They spent six months driving across America.

250 g of basmati rice
1 star anise
A good dollop of olive oil
30 g of butter
1 onion coursely chopped
5 cloves of chopped garlic
3 cardamom pods cracked open
50 g of fresh coriander leaves chopped coarsely
50 g Pine nuts or pumpkin seeds pan-heated until the fragrances are smelt
1/2 chopped bell pepper

Rinse the rice in a water bowl a few times to clear the starch and leave in the water for 30 minutes. Be gently with your fingers as rice breaks easily.

In a frying pan place olive oil and butter until butter has melted. Add chopped onion, star anise, cardamom, garlic, and fry until onions are a golden colour.

Tip out water in rice bowl and add the rice to the pan. Stir the rice until coated with oil. Add salt. Then add water covering the rice by 50% more in volume. Flatten the rice level so as to make the surface even. Cover with a lid and turn the heat down to low.
In the next 30 minutes the water will steam away leaving a light fluffy rice. Stir in the chopped bell pepper, seeds and fresh coriander.