Watermelon Kachumbari with Hibiscus & Citrus, Strawberry & Scotch Bonnet Jam & Mango Piri Piri
Summery Savoury Fruit recipes in The Guardian & Africana
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What to cook right now!
Something fragrant, something sweet, fruity and fiery, something refreshing to quench the heat. While recording an episode of The Kitchen Cabinet for BBC Radio 4, a member of the audience asked for an unusual combination of flavours. My response was “strawberries and scotch bonnets”. The combination of delicate and sweet strawberries with fiery and fruity scotchies have always fascinated me. The first time I turned this fascination into a recipe was sometime in 2014, when I concocted a Strawberry & Tomato Salad. I was invited to cater for a menswear fashion show after-party, and the guests were the first to test this recipe. This was at a time I would normally travel with strawberries from the UK just so I could enjoy them like treasures, for a day or two at least, while away in Lagos, Nigeria. This time I noticed something rather unusual, locally grown strawberries in Lagos. Rare and expensive, but of much better quality than the imported variety found in local stores. These treasures were and are grown in the temperate region of Jos, located on a plateau in North Central Nigeria. Jos is known for producing some of the best tomatoes in the country, the beloved subject in my upcoming ‘What to cook’ letter. And so almost 10 years before the publication of my debut cookbook, I created what would be the first version of one of the most beautiful and bewitching salads in AFRICANA, the Strawberry & Tomato Salad with Scotch Bonnet Balsamic. Speaking of letters, immediately after the aforementioned episode of The Kitchen Cabinet was aired sometime in March, I received an email from a listener, asking for recipes for my suggested strawberry and scotch bonnet combination. While I shared some ideas with him, including the recipe in the book, I had been tinkering with this punchy jam. When the editors at the Guardian asked me if I could create summery recipes, I said yes! With this tingling jam at the very tip of my tongue, ready to be penned, tested once more and shared with the world, and hopefully with Ian, the listener who pressed for a recipe.
A cover girl!
If you have been here a while you may already be accustomed to my bursts of excitement. If only you could see the smile across my face or hear my screeching excitement when I saw it. A deep blushing rouge permeating through the pink watermelons, red tomatoes and macerated onions. This might be the most beautiful salad I have ever seen, and its on the cover of The Guardian. A newspaper I have longed to write for and here it is, my recipe, on the cover. How incredible, the good fortune of sharing this beautiful, bewitching and most importantly delicious food with you.
Watermelon Kachumbari with Hibiscus
A cocktail of a salad. A riff on a riff on a riff from my AFRICANA. I wanted to make the traditional Kachumbari more refreshing. Not that it needs to be more, the Kachumbari enjoyed in Kenya and Tanzania is a refreshing salad mainly made of tomatoes, onions and chillies with variations including cucumbers. I first thought of it as an accompaniment to a spicy grilled fish dish as seen in the book. However, for the papers I created a deeply rouge hibiscus and citrus dressing to drench the fruits. Added watermelon makes this salad even more thirst quenching, sweet and delightful. A perfect accompaniment to grilled or roasted fish and meat, excellent in wraps. I must restrain myself and leave you to try this first.
Strawberry & Scotch Bonnet Jam
Mango and Lime Piri Piri
Anne Byrn, of the riveting Between the Layers newsletter, recently shared my Mango & Lime Piri Piri in her latest issue - Cooking up vibrancy! I met the New York Times bestselling author as a Substack Fellow in the spring of 2022. We spent several months with other writers from across the world, learning and sharing our writing journey together. Anne is an esteemed writer who weaves stories beautifully across time and place. My kind of writer, with stories that transport and enchant, bringing you into her world while educating you. An excellent recipe for the season, with the promise of sweet mangoes, zesty limes and lemons. It also promises the thrill of cooking with fire, or faking it indoors. I just love the beauty and flavour of that char which also heightens the sweetness of the mangoes. Please read Anne's beautiful story telling and, if you haven't already, try the mango piri piri, for it is truly memorable.
Cook with me!
Happy cooking, or tossing!
My debut cookbook: AFRICANA ~ Treasured recipes & stories from across the continent
AFRICANA - The modern classic book on African Cookery.
This is inspiring writing that works! - Jamie Oliver
Telegraph's Best Books of Autumn 2022 - The Telegraph
"There isn't a recipe I don't want to cook." - Diana Henry
"An outstanding new book. Lerato is a genius with flavour" - Delicious Magazine
Thank you for your reviews!
Many of you have cooked the book and shared your creations online. Many of you have also left heartwarming 5 star reviews. Thank you for spending a few minutes. Your kind words are important and appreciated. They contribute substantially to the success of Africana and ensure more people enjoy the wonders of the African continent. I would be grateful if you shared your experience of reading and cooking the book by leaving a five-star review. You can also leave a review on your local stores.
Previous posts to catch up on
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