Impress with this three-course Christmas spread

We have dug through our treasure trove of chefs and home cooks and found the perfect festive dishes to prepare on Christmas day

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It’s that time of the year where, in many South African households, the head cook of the family is gearing up to impress at this year’s Christmas lunch. MaKhulu’s famous leg of lamb and trifle is always a win in my family back in my home town of Kimberley in the Northern Cape.

However, if your menu is not yet cast in stone, we’ve sifted through our treasure trove of local chefs and cooks featured on Mzansi Flavour. The result is Food For Mzansi’s three course Christmas lunch, guaranteed to inspire.

Chef David Higgs’s fish cakes are a great starter. For mains there is chef Funi’s mouth-watering pork belly with apple sauce and rice salad. And for the family’s sweet tooth, Zanele van Zyl’s Christmas cake trifle is a must.

READ: In Mzansi, ‘festive’ is a lifestyle, not a season

Starter: Fish cakes prepared by chef David Higgs

Ingredients for the fish cakes

  • 800 g Up-To-Date potatoes / floury potatoes – 450 g cooked weight
  • 1 kg seabass offcuts – 650 g cooked weight
  • 6 spring onions – thinly sliced
  • 15 g parsley – chopped
  • 2 lemons – the zest
  • 7 ml lemon juice
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 5 ml hot English mustard
  • salt and pepper to taste

Ingredients for the coating

  • 3 eggs – beaten
  • 100 g flour
  • 100 g panko crumbs or breadcrumbs (made from bread without crusts)
  • oil – for deep-frying

Ingredients for the parsley mayonnaise

  • 220 g parsley purée
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 15 ml Dijon mustard
  • 25 ml white wine vinegar
  • 115 ml olive oil / canola blend
  • 5 g xanthan gum (thickening agent)

Ingredients for the fried kale leaves

  • 8 kale leaves
  • olive oil – for brushing
  • Mrs Ball’s chutney

Preparation method

  1. Line the base of a tray with coarse salt. Prick the potatoes and place on the tray. Bake in the oven at 180°C for 40–60 minutes or until soft – depending on size.
  2. Once cooked, peel the potatoes, and while still hot, pass through a tamis (utensil that is used as a sieve, food mill and grater). You could also just mash them until smooth.
  3. Remove the skin from the seabass offcuts and grill until the flesh is white and flaky. Weigh and shred 650 g of the fish into a large bowl.
  4. Add the potato and remaining ingredients. Mix to incorporate evenly. Remove 30 g of the mixture at a time and roll into balls.
  5. To batter, place the beaten eggs, flour and crumbs in separate dishes. Coat the fish balls by rolling them in this order – beaten egg, flour, beaten egg and finally, the crumbs. Deep fry the balls at 180°C until they are a deep golden colour.
  6. To make the mayonnaise, add the parsley purée, egg yolks, mustard, and vinegar to a Thermomix jug. Blend on medium speed until combined. In a steady stream, add the olive oil to emulsify.
  7. Add the xanthan gum and continue to blend until well incorporated. Remove the emulsion from the jug and reserve in a piping bag in the fridge until needed. Wash the kale leaves and pat dry. Brush with olive oil and bake at 180 °C until crispy.
  8. Drain excess oil on paper towels.
  9. To assemble, arrange the elements of this dish as per the photo, or as you wish. For each serving, top a fried kale leaf with 3 fishcakes, and add 30 g chutney and 15 g parsley mayonnaise to the plate.

READ MORE: Sports can change lives says award winning chef

Main: Chef Funi’s pork belly with apple sauce and rice salad


  • 1 – 1.5 kg pork belly
  • 30 ml barbecue spice
  • 15 ml dried thyme
  • 30 ml sea salt

For the sauce

  • 4 Granny Smith apples, cored, peeled and diced
  • 60 ml brown sugar
  • 500 ml chicken stock or sweet white wine
  • 200 g rocket or any salad leaves

Preparation method

  1. Preheat oven at 220°C
  2. Make scores through the skin into the fat (Using a sharp knife).
  3. Using your hands, rub in the barbecue spice, thyme and sea salt into all the scores.
  4. In a baking tray place your meat, skin side-up, roast in preheated oven for about 30 minutes or until the skin of the meat has started to puff up and turn into crackling.
  5. Turn the heat down to 180°C and roast for another hour and a half or until soft and tender. Baste occasionally with the fat in the bottom of the tray. Transfer the meat in a serving dish or cover with foil.
  6. In the same tray on a high heat place all the ingredients for the sauce, stir until the sugar has dissolved, then reduce the heat and simmer until it reduces by half.

Rice salad


  • 4 cups cooked rice
  • 410 g (1 tin) corn kernels, drained
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 1 small cucumber, diced
  • 2 stalks of celery, sliced
  • Salt and pepper to season

For the dressing

  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • ¼ cup lemon juice

Preparation method

  1. In a large salad bowl, combine all the ingredients for the salad.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk the olive oil, vinegar and lemon juice together and toss over the salad.
  3. Season with salt and pepper.

READ MORE: Chef Funi succeeds despite his many naysayers

Dessert: Christmas cake trifle by chef Zanele van Zyl


  • 385 g condensed milk
  • 1 cup of vanilla yoghurt
  • 820 g sliced peaches
  • 2 fresh mangos (diced)
  • Slices of one whole shop bought Christmas cake (sponge cake)

Preparation method

  1. In a bowl, mix the yoghurt and condensed milk together.
  2. Line the bottom of the glass jars with Christmas cake (sponge cake).
  3. Create layers with the yoghurt mix, peaches and diced mangoes.
  4. Keep creating the layers till your glass jar is full.
  5. Crumble the Christmas cake (sponge cake) to use as garnish with the berries.

READ MORE: Author and chef plans on taking her cooking classes across the globe


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