Ishay Govender Food and the Fabulous Rasam Soup
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Did You Try Making: Ishay Govender-Ypma’s Rasam Soup

Issue 06

What’s Cooking: Ishay Govender-Ypma, Food and the Fabulous {Cape Town}

After months of tweeting about cooking and dining, Cape Town, South Africa based Ishay Govender-Ypma launched her website, Food and the Fabulous.  She offers local food tours and shares stories, recipes and reviews from her travels around the continent and globe.

For winter, Ishay shares her mother’s recipe for Rasam soup. It is her mother’s flu-fighter go-to dish. “Rasam is spicy and tangy because of the tamarind and a sure-fire way to clear up the sinuses. I associate it with warmth and my gran’s cooking. It’s quick, uncomplicated and perfect for winter” says Ishay.

Ishay Govender Food and the Fabulous Rasam Soup

Recipe: Rasam (South Indian King) Soup
Serves 4

4-5 tablespoons of tamarind pulp, soaked in 2 cups warm water
1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
1 tablespoon cumin seeds
1 tablespoon black mustard seeds
1 head garlic, peeled
1/2 medium onion, sliced thinly
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
4 dried red chilies
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 medium tomato, skinned and chopped
1 cup water
Salt to taste
15-20 g fresh coriander, washed, de-stalked and chopped roughly

In a heavy mortar, crush the pepper, mustard seeds, garlic and cumin seeds with a little salt, until the spices are fairly fine but not a powder and the garlic forms a paste. On medium heat in a pot, fry the onions until translucent. Add the crushed spices, garlic and red chilies. Fry for a minute, stirring. Add the turmeric and stir for 10 seconds. Add the tomato and the tamarind juice (strain out any pips). Bring to the boil and lower heat to medium. Cook for 15 minutes. Add a half cup of water (or more if the soup is too strong).  Season with salt and serve with fresh coriander. Serve over basmati rice or strain and serve in mugs. Note: The rasam improves in flavour the next day.

Ishay Govender Food and the Fabulous Rasam Soup

INTERVIEW: Ishay Govender-Ypma, Food and the Fabulous {Cape Town, South Africa}

01 In Cape Town, you must try…
As the predominant flavours centre around Cape Malay, you need to try a local curry or bobotie (or both), a fried snoek (a beloved local fish that is also barbequed) and chips in Hout Bay, and Shisa nyma - braai’d (barbequed) meat at Mzoli’s or Nomzamo butchery in the townships.

02 Do you entertain at home?
I do love having people over, either at the kitchen island where I’m cooking or at the round table in the dining room. I’m always trying dishes with the spices and ingredients I bring back from travels. I keep the decor simple with small glass vases, single blossoms or stems, and I update my coasters often. My favourite ones are worse-for-wear black and white coaster with Shakespeare’s face printed on, from Stratford-upon-Avon.

Ishay Govender Food and the Fabulous Rasam Soup
Photo Source: Food and the Fabulous

03 When in Cape Town, eat at….

  • Brunch at Hemelhuijs - unassuming venue under the pedestrian bridge in town. Immaculate design and food from an owner/chef who honours his Afrikaaner roots with beautiful plates of fresh food, and clever combinations.
  • The Pot Luck Club - you need to book way in advance. Sharing plates which profile the 5 tastes from bitter to sweet. From award winning Luke Dale-Roberts.
  • La Mouette - a restaurant that serves affordable fine dining in beautiful Victorian house.

04 What’s next for you/your blog?
Food and the Fabulous has had a few redesigns. I’m hoping to introduce more of a video element when I spend more time in Cape Town and to feature more people-centric food and culture stories. There are also Cape Town Fab Food Tours that we are working on. I’d love to share the city’s culinary treasures with readers and visitors.

05 How did you develop your passion and love of food?
I don’t think there was one defining moment when I realised I enjoy food. Moreover, food is a gateway to understanding other people and cultures. I come from a family and culture where food is used to facilitate celebration and mourning.  It’s shared with neighbours, visitors and family during prayers and average weekdays. I watched my frugal grandmothers who had to support large families on very little, always able to provide an extra plate or a food gift to send off with visitors. Times have changed, my circumstances are (thankfully) vastly different, but I find myself sharing and celebrating with food in much the same way. Abundance has nothing to do with luxurious ingredients, but everything to do with a table that can lend itself to another hungry mouth.

Rasam Soup Ideas To Try:

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