Cooking is meditation with the promise of a good meal afterwards, says farming home cook Mangale Mofokeng. Nothing beats the soothing sounds of a steady chop of a knife against a cutting board.
This Johannesburg-based foodie not only loves to cook food, but she loves to grow food on her farm in her native, Qwaqwa. She is also the brains behind Mongale Homemade, a catering business offering homemade foods and baked eats.
“We know that at every gathering, there must be food. Food is a way of saying thank you to your guests and so Mangale Homemade is always there to ensure that your guests are taken care of by proving wholesome meals.”
The kitchen is her safe space where she takes pride in developing recipes. “My kitchen is my happy place and I believe food is therapeutic, especially when the recipe comes out and tastes exactly as it should be,” says Mofokeng.
“Cooking for my family has become part of my routine and it’s always been fun. Seeing how much my family enjoy the meals, I thought it’d be great to share with others through posting it via my social platforms.”
Food love turned business
Mofokeng started cooking at a young age, and she tells Food For Mzansi that it was her aunt that ignited her passion for cooking. “I grew up in Qwaqwa, Naledi in the Free State. Cooking started at an early age for me, from assisting my mom in the kitchen to being given an opportunity to make a dish by myself.”
Between her catering and baking business, Mofokeng also takes pride in sharing her beautiful homemade meals with her thousands of followers on her Instagram page.
“I then started sharing cooked/baked treats with friends and they gave great feedback. All that was just to inspire someone, but it birthed ‘Mangale Homemade’, which is a brand that provides homemade food and bakes for people celebrating their milestones like birthdays, weddings, baby showers,” she says.
Mofokeng shares more about her life and love for cooking.
Mangale, you not only cook food, but you also grow it. Tell us where does your love for food come from?
My late aunt was a passionate cook. She worked as a domestic and every time I visited her during weekends, I’d see her making dishes from very little ingredients from the pantry and using herbs I’ve never seen or heard of.
“The aroma and results of the dish were always a highlight for me but most importantly, the passion and the love she put in every time she prepared those meals was so evident.”
What was a dish from your childhood that you loved?
Chicken stew and steamed bread. My mom makes the best! Every time I make this dish, it takes me right back to my mom’s kitchen. Waking up on a Sunday morning and being greeted by a big “Hart” pot on the coal stove, and an amazing aroma of simmering chicken stew with potatoes, was always exciting.
The world has been bitten by the plant-based buzz, what are some plant-based dishes you like to make in your own kitchen?
Spinach with potatoes served with pap. It’s a healthy and budget friendly meal. And on gloomy days, I like making samp and beans. It’s such a comforting meal, one that gives a very warm, loving hug from the inside.
Do you have any words of wisdom for our foodie friends of Mzansi?
Trying out a recipe has two outcomes, it’s either you get it right or you don’t. And if you don’t, don’t give up on yourself, try as many times until you get it right. And when you do, work on it even more to perfect it. Always remember that it’s a journey, so be patient with yourself.
Tell us about some of the milestones in your food journey so far?
The major highlights have been to become part of people’s important celebrations like weddings, baby showers and birthday celebrations. Seeing them enjoy the food that I’ve prepared and giving me positive feedback really warms my heart because it means they felt the love I put in. After all, food is love.
I’ve learnt that the food industry is very forgiving. Always be willing to learn, invest in your craft (become friends with Google, attend masterclasses). There’s always someone willing to assist, don’t be scared to ask the right people for help.
Looking to the future, what are your plans in terms of your business?
The dream I have is to own a cooking/baking studio, where I can host cooking and baking classes. I believe knowledge not shared is knowledge wasted. I have recently developed the love for farming last season and I’m looking forward to seeing where that love takes me. I am already envisioning events like “Lunch at the farm with Mangale Homemade” where we will be serving everything homegrown. Exciting times ahead and only hard work and determination can make it all possible.
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