Chef Owen Jullies from Johannesburg, South Africa, and Chef Mara Alcamim from Brasilia, the capital of Brazil, were in New Delhi for the week-long Ibsa (India, Brazil, South Africa) food festival, giving Delhiites a chance to savour the cuisine of their respective cultures and countries. We caught up with the culinary ambassadors to inaugurate a series where we will talk to chefs from around the globe about their cuisine. Edited excerpts:

# Chef Mara Alcamim


What are the main kinds of Brazilian cuisine?

We have different cuisines in the north, south and the east, influenced by Portugal, Africa and Holland.

Kitchen truths: (left) Mara Alcamim at the Ibsa food festival at The Ashok, New Delhi; and Feijoada in a mud pot. Harikrishna Katragadda / Mint

One favourite item that cuts across regions and cultures?

Feijoada. Earlier, the slaves would get the bad parts of pork which would be left over — ears, nose, tail. These would be boiled with black beans. Now it is no longer slave food, but liked by all!

If you were asked to serve a meal representative of your cuisine, what would it include?

Rice, boiled with garlic, onion and salt; purple beans boiled; and beef steak.

What other cuisines are popular in Brazil?

They love Italian, Japanese sushi and kibe, which is Lebanese.

What meats do you use for Churrasco or barbecue in Brazil?

All kinds of meat are used in Churrasco — beef, chicken, fish and sausage. You prepare it by 10 in the morning and have it all day long.

One quick recipe that we can prepare here in India?

You can make fish stew. Take fish, sweet pepper (capsicum), coconut milk in olive oil, and broil together with onions and tomatoes. Eat with plain white rice.

What are the desserts like?

One popular dessert is Doce de Leite or sweet milk. You take milk and sugar and heat it for six hours.


# Chef Owen Jullies

South Africa

Can we say there is one South African cuisine or are there different cuisines reflecting the diversity of the country?

The cuisine is a mixture of colonial and indigenous food. The Dutch brought slaves from Indonesia 300 years ago who brought with them bay leaves, cloves, garlic and Indonesian style curries. The indigenous people were hunter-gatherers who put animals on fire. When maize was introduced here, they took to it—they would have maize and grilled meat with a little bit of salt. Even today, deep in the rural areas, maize and meat grilled or boiled in a pot on fire, along with wild spinach (Morogo), is the staple food.

Sizzlers: (left) Owen Jullies; and a Braai sampler. Harikrishna Katragadda / Mint

How much have eating habits been shaped by colonial-era influences and to what extent do they remain traditional?

I would say 50:50. There are Indian restaurants in every town. The indigenous people have taken to Chakalaka—the vegetable stew that is of Indian origin and made with onions, green pepper, cauliflower, cabbage, chillies and curry powder.

What ingredients are must-haves in a South African kitchen?

Peas, onions, tomatoes, garlic and ginger, along with Mielie Pap or ground maize.

If you were asked to serve a meal representative of your cuisine, what would it include?

South Africans love Braai — our version of the barbecue. Braai would include barbecued beef, lamb, chicken and boerewors or sausage made out of beef, pork and spices. There would also be maize and chakalaka, all served with good red wine and beer.

Any other favourite Braai preparation?

Another colonial origin preparation is Sosatie — meat that has been marinated and grilled. The Indonesian version is hotter while the Dutch version is tempered with apricots and other fruits.

What is the most popular street food in SA?

The white, black and Indian living areas were segregated and called locations. In the Indian locations, you get maize on the cob roasted over fire in every corner, and roti with beans. At the black locations you get Magounie — fried bread which can be had with mincemeat, jam or cheese.

The Indians in Durban invented the Bunny Chow, which is huge. It is half a loaf of bread with its inside dug out and filled with curry, beans or meat. Down in Cape, you get the Gatsby, which is a French loaf stuffed with goodies like curry or slap chips (which are like French fries).

What other cuisines are popular in SA?

Pizzas and Kentucky Fried Chicken! Black South Africans eat a lot of chicken.

What are the desserts like?

Indigenous folks don’t do desserts, so desserts are dominated by colonial tastes: we have Koeksister—a doughnut-like thing like your Gulab Jamun. It is made from flour, dipped in syrup and then taken out. There is malva pudding — a strange concoction of eggs, flour and vinegar. And there is Melk Tert, which is of Dutch origin and made from milk, eggs, custard and caramel in a tart.