When it comes down to planning your festive spread, each course needs to be showstopper. Food For Mzansi is sharing 17 of our most favourite starters, mains and desserts for some much-needed Christmas lunch ideas. Think of it as a gift from us to you.
It has been a long year and the least of your worries should involve thinking about what you are going to put on your Christmas table this year. Whether you are keeping it traditional with a baked glazed gammon and roasted chicken, or going for a casual vibe with some tender meats on the braai and light salads, we have got you.
And we get it: the festive season should always feel like a big deal, even if the only elves seated at your table are the ones you actually live with.
Here are some of our best meaty and veggie recipes. Just be sure to leave room for some decadent sweet treats.
Ready, set, starter
On your marks, get set, ready and go! If you are in need of a festive head start, here is a roundup of easy to make Christmas starters.
Jabu’s creamy chicken livers
We do love our chicken from head to toe. Chicken livers are not only rich and delicious but easy on the pocket. Home cook Jabulile Dube gives us her version of creamy chicken livers served with toasted ciabatta roll slices. For an added bite, also try this recipe for peri-peri chicken livers by Grain Field Chickens.
Looking for some festive spirit?
Watch on FFM TV as home cook Dané Vermeulen creates a fun, easy and tasty recipe that is sure to bring some joy to your home. Vermeulen’s Christmas tree salad is easy to make with your family and will wow any person with a seat at your festive table this year.
You can also try:
- Aligning South African combos with chef Zingisa’s rooibos-infused umleqwa recipe.
- Also who doesn’t love pap with their hearty South African braai? Glam it up with celebrity chef Siphokazi Mdlankomo’s easy cheesy twist.
Also try this chakalaka pull-apart bread, by award-winning chef Zola Nene:
1 can chakalaka
330 ml warm water
1×10 g packet of dried yeast
5 ml salt
5 ml sugar
600 g cake flour
100 ml butter
250 ml grated cheddar cheese
125 ml grated mozzarella cheese
- Pour the warm water into a bowl.
- Add the yeast, salt and sugar and stir well.
- Leave to stand until the yeast blooms.
- Place the cake flour into a large bowl and rub in the butter.
- Add the yeast mixture and form into a soft dough.
- Knead for about 10 minutes, until smooth and elastic.
- Place the dough into a lightly floured bowl, cover with a damp cloth and prove until doubled in size.
- Knock the dough down and roll into a long roll.
- Cut the roll into equal size slices and roll each slice into a ball.
- Place half of the balls into a loaf pan that has been sprayed with non-stick spray and lined with baking paper.
- Cover the balls with a layer of chakalaka.
- Sprinkle half of the cheese over the chakalaka.
- Repeat with a second layer of dough balls, chakalaka and cheese.
- Leave the bread to rise in a warm place for 30 minutes.
- Bake the chakalaka bread in an oven that has been preheated to 190°C for 30 minutes, or until the dough bounces back and the loaf is golden brown.
- Remove from the oven and allow to cool for a few minutes before turning out.
- Serve warm.
Centre your meal on one of these festive and hearty main dish recipes.
Get clucking with Grain Field Chickens
Are you a braaimaster?
Chef and bakery owner Unaty Daniel shares her favourite braai recipe for rosemary and barbeque lamb chops stuffed with mozzarella cheese.
Absie’s lamb bredie
Nothing screams local like a bredie. Succulent lamb knuckles are stewed until they melt off the bone and the gravy itself, made from a combination of locally produced tomatoes, is equally packed with flavour. Try the founder of the Fresh Corporation Abonga “Absie” Pantshwa’s lamb bredie.
You can also try:
- Award-winning cookbook author Nina Timm’s recipe for a beautiful flame grilled BBQ salmon.
- Dr Anna Trapido’s slow-cooked beef Tšhotlho (pulled beef).
Pork is the most versatile of meats and a classic gammon can be paired with a number of flavours – sweet, tangy or salty gammon is the perfect complement to your roast chicken or turkey. Try this traditional glistening gammon that is perfect for any celebration, especially at Christmas.
For a different classy take on gammon, try:
Chef Mynhardt Joubert’s gammon croquettes stuffed with red cherry and pineapple
1 large smoked gammon, in netting
2 large onions, cut in quarters
1 garlic head, cut in half
3 large cinnamon quills
4 bay leaves
1 bottle good quality white wine
1 litre pork or chicken stock
15 ml sugar
6 – 8 whole red glacé cherries
1 x 440 g tin pineapple pieces, drained
500 ml cake flour
4 eggs, beaten with a splash of water
200 g dried breadcrumbs
Oil for deep frying
- Preheat the oven to 180°C.
- Place the gammon, onion, garlic, cinnamon, bay leaves, wine and stock in a large ovenproof pot and cover.
- Bake in the oven for 3 – 4 hours or until the gammon is cooked and tender.
- Cool the gammon in the cooking liquid until you can handle it with your hands. Preserve the cooking liquid and set aside.
- Shred the gammon with two forks or your fingers.
- Add 500 ml of the cooking liquid and the sugar in a saucepan, cook until thickened.
- Mix the sauce with the gammon and form 6 – 8 balls.
- Place a cherry and 2 pieces of pineapple into each ball and close.
- Roll the balls in the flour, then in the beaten egg and then in the crumbs.
- Deep fry until golden brown and drain on kitchen towel.
Wait. Don’t forget the sweet treats!
Don’t tell us in the midst of drawing up your festive shopping list and thinking about gammon, you’ve forgotten all about dessert? If that sounds about right, then never fear.
You could never go wrong with a fridge tart
Reezwanah Seedat gets minty and fresh with a caramel peppermint crisp tart. This is always best made the day before you actually serve it. You can also add a chocolate boost by grating some of the chocolate into your caramel mixture.
Hey chocolate lovers
Speaking of chocolate, cookbook author and culinary legend Marinda Engelbrecht has the best(e) chocolate brownie recipe if you are up for a little baking.
Radio personality Roch-Lè Bloem has a quick and easy five step instant chocolate mousse if you need a sweet dose in a jiffy.
But could it even be festive without trifle?
Is there a dessert that could cause more controversy than trifle? This old-school dessert consists of cake pieces, fruity layers and custard in a clear dish. Each layer sometimes can be hotly contested and debated in South African families. But trifles are deeply embedded in our South African roots and can never be excluded on your festive spread.
Some Food For Mzansi trifle recipes to try include:
And of course we couldn’t forget our vegetarian and vegan friends:
Spice up your veggies
We reckon curry could possibly be the dish of the nation. Ditch the meat and make the Food For Mzansi resident plant-based guru Dané Vermeulen’s vegetarian curry.
Stack up some flavour
Plant eaters deserve some love. Meat does not always have to be the star of the show. And we don’t want to see a miserable face at our tables. Try Dane Vermeulen’s veggie stack, with a stack of flavour to match.
No sweet tooth left behind
Going plant-based does not mean you will not have your sugary treat. Also try Dané’s watermelon sugar crunch.