Read of the Week

Plentiful: The Big Book of Buddha Food

Chrisi and Louis van Loon, Paul Atkinson and Angela Shaw

Jacana Media

Review: Karen Watkins

Plentiful continues the gastronomic adventure of books by the Buddhist Retreat Centre in Ixopo, KwaZulu-Natal. This is the third in a series of vegetarian food, tried and tested in the kitchen of this internationally renowned meditation centre. The others are Quiet Food (2005) and The Cake the Buddha Ate (2011).

With photographs by Angela Shaw, the book has eight headings: soups, salads, mains, sides, sweet treats, tea time, bread and pastry and back to basics.

The dishes were created by innovative chef Paul Atkinson who, with the help of cooks Lindiwe Ncgobo, Lungi Mbono, Dudu Memela and Nonkanyiso Dlamini, runs the kitchen and turns out a feast fit for royalty.

Threading its way through the pages is the story of how the centre came to be founded on a wasteland during the 1970s. Of how Chrisi and Louis van Loon cleared alien vegetation and planted trees representing the Eight-fold Path leading to the centre.

But the proof is in the pudding, as they say, and my copy of the book soon had stickies of paper marking the pages with recipes suitable for my capabilities.

Assembling a list of ingredients, I excitedly set to work on the dishes.

I tried Rocket to a new beet and the colour of this salad was intoxicating. The taste is a blend of sweetness of pecan nuts offset by salty feta cheese.

All aboard the Marrakesh express turned into a casserole for a large family, inspiring me to invite over a veggie friend. He enjoyed the mix of sweet, spicy and pungent while I will leave out the raisins and apricots next time.

Plentiful is no ordinary cookbook. For starters, many recipes can easily be converted for vegans – by removing the feta from the beetroot salad – or for carnivores – by adding chicken or lamb to the Moroccan stew.

Other dishes I will try are a festival of fungi surrounded by polenta; tantric tarts of roasted vegetables and puff pastry; and the decadent chocolate vegan cake for my friend, Debbie.

So don’t be shy, delve into this book’s healthy nuances of the delicious diversity that is South African vegetarianism, with a twist of your own. Plentiful overflows with yummy dishes which are sure to intrigue carnivores and maybe even Banting-vores.

Foodstuff

Tony Jackman

Human & Rousseau

Review: Karen Watkins

This cookbook is a memoir, a life story, punctuated by recipes. Tony Jackman is a writer, elbowing his way into journalism, initially as shipping editor, then as an arts writer and even an occasional restaurateur, which provides the basis for this book. He writes about the culture of food and the ingredients that go into it.

Born in Yorkshire, this is where he started to cook – see the recipe for Yorkshire puddings, learnt from his dad and cousin, Molly.

His relationship with his dad is complex although Tony says he was not a bad cook.

Now, aged 62, he is loving life and, at a book launch at Buitenverwachting on June 8, said he was three days away from being the age his dad was when he died.

Tony scoffs at vegetarians but no matter the book is as delicious to read as the recipes inside it.

Tony has lived in many places, including Oranjemund, “the town built on a green eye and a callous heart. Where giant yellow Caterpillars with wheels the size of houses tear up the earth in search of diamonds that stud the tempting dirt”.

He had a choppy childhood. At high school in Sea Point he spent more time being truant, a symptom of being bullied.

He has lived in Sutherland where he had a restaurant for two years, in Cradock, Grahamstown and then back to Cradock – one of Olive Schreiner’s town’s – which led him to write plays about her. He presently lives in Grahamstown.

And so it’s no wonder that Karoo lamb is his meat. At the launch, Tony praised Buitenverwachting’s chef Edgar Osojnik, for his version of Obies Oxtail Potjie – made with two stout oxtails from a portly cow, red wine and Old Brown Sherry.

Other sections include “Forlorn dogs and food for the soul”, “Vanilla hubcaps and cardamom dreams”, “Hantam tassies”, “Pariah parsnips and purple rain”.

And then there’s “dinner at the end of the line” – no – don’t turn to page 209. Ok, you did, you found three recipes: lamb shank with thyme, oregano, lemon and minted yogurt.

And two desserts, both using chocolate, the tart is “the last taste on the palate, creamy, luscious and soothing. Chocolate can take your mind off almost anything. Even the looming end of everything.”

Published by Annake Müller with photography by Myburgh du Plessis and styling by Sarah Dahl, Foodstuff will inspire you and has something for everyone.