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It’s a clear bright sky today; the wild almond which towers over the entrance to the Clifton House is breaking out with blossoms, soon they will fall to the ground like snowflakes; the wonderful fragrance of cardamom coffee wafting from the kitchen pricks the senses. I fancy something fragrant and mildly spicy for dinner.

The pantry store cupboard holds a store of heady scents and warm colours, I find just what I need for the Fish Bobotie which I will serve with a warm salad of carrot, spinach tossed together with a cumin, lemon and garlic dressing. I pick fresh curry leaves from the little tree in the herb garden and add a few Kaffir lime leaves to the bundle. The curry leaves provide a mild aromatic warmth to the Bobotie which I feel the dish just cant do without. The kaffir lime leaves are optional.


Aromatic Fish Bobotie served with Carrot, Spinach and cumin salad with toasted black onion seeds

Deliciously fragrant and mildly spicy, a good dish for entertaining friends.

Serves 6


2 cans of skinless and boneless pink salmon ( drained mass 270 g)

1 can crab meat (drained mass 113 g)

2 slices of bread

1 cup milk

2 tablespoons olive oil

½ tsp. ground cumin

½ tsp. ground coriander

½ ground cayenne pepper

Thumb size piece of ginger peeled and finely chopped

1 onion peeled and finely diced

1 cup of cream

1 tsp. turmeric powder

2 large eggs


Black pepper

6-8 curry leaves

4 kaffir lime leaves finely sliced (optional)


Set the oven temperature to 180C

Drain the cans of salmon and crab meat and place in a bowl.

In a separate bowl tear the bread into chunks and cover with the cup of milk, leave to soak.

Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large pan, add the cumin, coriander, cayenne and sauté for a few seconds, add the chopped ginger, sauté for a few more seconds then add the chopped onion. Sauté until the onion is tender and soft. Add to the bowl with the fish and crab and mix through. Squeeze the bread reserving the milk for later; add the bread to the mixture in the bowl. Mix all thoroughly but gently together and place in a buttered oven proof dish.

Add 1 cup of the cream to the reserved milk in which the bread was soaking, add the turmeric, the eggs, beat together lightly and season with salt and pepper. Pour this custard liquid over the fish mixture. Add some curry leaves pushing them gently down on top of the custard. Add a sprinkling of the finely sliced Kaffir lime leaves.

Place in the oven and bake for 35-40 minutes until the custard is set and is a nice golden colour.

For the warm salad

Carrot Spinach and cumin salad with toasted black onion seeds

carrot spinach salad a2

The secret to this salad is good quality organic carrots and spinach and lightly pan roasting the onion seeds


500g cooked carrots

250g baby spinach washed, blanched and squeezed dry

½ tsp. ground cumin

2 garlic cloves peeled and roughly chopped

½ tsp. sea salt

Juice of half a lemon

1/3 tsp. castor sugar

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 tsp. pan roasted black onion seeds


Slice the cooked carrots into long strips, about 3-4 strips per carrot. Place into a salad bowl, together with the spinach, layering as you go.

Pound the cumin, garlic, and salt in a mortar and pestle. Mix in the lemon juice, sugar and olive oil until well amalgamated.

Pour the dressing over the carrot and spinach and sprinkle with the roasted black onion seeds.