Want to experience South Africa without leaving Mumbai? The JW Marriott is currently hosting Chef Mohamed Mustafa in celebration of a South African Food festival at Lotus Café. Aspri Spirits is also providing some lovely South African wines and liqueur to go with the delicious food.
I had never tried South African cuisine or wine, so this was quite an experience for me. Upon entering we were handed a glass of the House of J.C. Le Roux sparkling wine. This is South Africa’s first and leading cellar dedicated to sparkling. It was a bit sweet and would serve well as a dessert wine. Chef Mohamed Mustafa then introduced us to South African food, describing it as a “rainbow cuisine” or blend of multicultural flavors. He presented a large spread of soups, salads, breads, cheeses, grilled and roast meats, and curries. We started the meal with delicious banana bread and an okra/fish stew. The okra stew had Mediterranean flavors and was a nice fresh start. This was paired with private auction wines from the Nederburg Winery: an oaky chardonnay and a light crisp sauvignon blanc.
The buffet spread was quite intimidating with so many options. I tried the salads and the “Bunny chow.” Don’t worry; no bunnies were harmed in the making of this dish. This can best be described as a rustic Pav bhaji. It was a mix of peas, carrots, potatoes (and chicken in the non-veg version), flavored with warm spices, and served on top a piece of bread with a side of crisp salad. This dish paired nicely with the South African pinot from Two Ocean Wines.
We ended the meal with an iced Amarula cocktail. Amarula is a cream liqueur made from the South African golden Marula fruit. This was, by far, my favorite. There was no need for dessert, since this served perfectly. It was poured over crushed ice and tasted fruity and creamy. This really is dangerously refreshing. You must try it!
The JW Marriott will be hosting Chef Mustafa’s South African culinary safari at the Lotus Café until March 24th.