AFRIKA BITES – Township Pap and Vleis remains South Africa’ s staple favourite

#ballsy is certainly what Nicky and Mark Mullinos are when they decided to launch Afrika Bites. They both originally from Johannesburg where they met a High School and later dated when they worked together in London. Nicky is quite clearly the “arty one” and completed a Condon Bleu Cooking course after school. Her education in Textile Design is evident with the use of fabrics and shop fitting within the shop. Mark is the “operational one” with knowledge in systems and restaurant management as well as health & safety. His skill comes from owning his own Bagel Cafes in Johannesburg and management of a Bottling Plant in the Strand. They currently employ 4 people and they firmly believe that building skill and confidence is of high priority to ensure that you experience the finest of what they have to offer.

She explains through years of cross cultural diversity in Cape Town South Africans have become accustomed to a kaleidoscope of heritage foods. So what will you find when visiting them? True South African “boerekos”; Stews served up with traditional Pap with their trendy new take of “pap balls” served with gravy. Traditional Cape Malay Bobotie which is a curried mince stew with a baked egg topping is not only found in Cape Malay households but can be found made equally well in the Afrikaner ladies kitchen. Nicky on the other hand decided to break the conventional format of serving this as a plated meal and has made “bobotie balls” that are so easy to grab-a-go.

If you believed that only township dwellers eat staples such as “pap” and “chakalaka” vegetable gravy then you are wrong. From the townships of Gugulethu, to the farmer’s kitchens in the Karoo, to the Sunday lunch in posh in Constantia, to the streets of Mitchells Plain you will find all races enjoying the same diversity foods served up with barbeques or stew. Samp and beans that was once eaten by the laborers as an affordable and easy fill-me-upper has reached the most sophisticated table.

Then comes the old favourite. Boerewors. Native to South Africa this sausage which name derives from Afrikaans/Dutch word “boer/farmer” and “wors/sausage” is eaten in every household and is so popular that South Africans entertain themselves around this with cooking shows, competitions and even government regulation in terms of 90% meat content to differentiate it from any other sausage. Households and Butches have their own signature recipes that are kept hidden from the public and handled as if a state secret.

Then we have plump whole grilled or pieces of chicken. In this country where chicken is the main protein staple and we consume around 28 million chickens a week, we believe juicy slow rotisserie chickens is a winner. We serve this with what research proves is South Africans favorite salad Coleslaw. Quantitively cabbage and carrots are abundant in the rural environment, easy to grow and affordable. It holds well in shacks were refrigeration is not available but can easily pass off as Cordon Bleu. Historically the previously disadvantaged worked in the colonialists homes and so the introduction of foods reaches everyone’s tables. We are thankful for this. It brought us all a rich diversity of flavours and interesting native foods that is uniquely South African. Come experience this Township Shack and try soul food at Afrika Bites!

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Nicky Mullinos

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