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Celebrating their mothers' favourite recipes - Capsicum chefs pay homage to their mothers.

The official Mother’s Day holiday - which takes place on May 9 - arose as a result of the

efforts of an American woman, Anna Jarvis who, following her mother’s death in 1905,

conceived of the day as a way of honouring the sacrifices mothers made for their children.

After gaining financial backing from a Philadelphia department store owner named John

Wanamaker, Jarvis organised the first official Mother’s Day celebration at a church in

West Virginia. That same day also saw thousands of people attend a Mother’s Day event at one of Wanamaker’s retail stores in Philadelphia.

As a result of the success of these events, Jarvis, who remained unmarried and childless her whole life, resolved to see her holiday added to the national calendar. Arguing that American holidays were biased toward male achievements, she started a national letter writing campaign to newspapers and prominent politicians urging the adoption of a special day honouring motherhood.

By 1912 many US states, cities and towns had adopted Mother’s Day as an annual holiday, and Jarvis had established the Mother’s Day International Association to help promote her cause. Her persistence paid off in 1914 when President Woodrow Wilson signed a measure officially establishing the second Sunday in May as Mother’s Day.

Mother’s Day continues to be celebrated worldwide and in most countries is marked by

presenting mothers with gifts and flowers and giving them a day off from activities like

cooking or other household chores. In honour of their mothers and because they have promised to take over cooking duties in the kitchen, we asked some of the chefs at Capsicum, SA's largest culinary school with six campuses nationwide, to share the recipes of the favourite dishes they most remember their moms whipping up for them.

Cape Town campus; Chef Hayley Sutherland: "My favourite meal made by my mom Jenny, when I was growing up, was her chicken a-la-king. There was always something so comforting about the way it made me feel."

Jenny Martin's Chicken a-la-king 


1 whole chicken

2 carrots

1 onion

2 leeks


50g butter

50g cake flour

1 cup of rice


Chop onions, carrots and leeks and sweat them off in a stock pot until translucent. Add

whole chicken, cover with water, bring to the boil and then turn down to a simmer. Once

the chicken is cooked and the meat is falling from the bone, remove from the liquid. Allow the chicken to cool, strip the meat from the carcass. Discard the bones and skin. Strain the cooking liquid (stock) and reserve along with the vegetables. Take a clean pot and make a roux by melting the butter then adding the flour, allow this to cook without colour. Add the cooking liquid to make a velouté sauce. Be sure to season the sauce. Add the sauce to the meat as well as the vegetables reserved from the cooking. Check the seasoning. Boil the rice until cooked and serve with the chicken.

Says Chef Ewan Johnston from Capsicum's Rosebank, Johannesburg campus: "My favourite meal made by my mom Sandra was her Breakfast Frittata. To make it she fries up some onions and bacon (using butter or olive oil), adds baby tomatoes, English spinach and yellow peppers and then pours over a mixture of beaten eggs mixed with yoghurt and cream cheese. When the egg is almost cooked, she covers it with grated cheese and places it under the grill until the cheese melts. Sometimes, to spice it up a bit, she adds a dash or two of Banhoek Chilli Oil! It's absolutely delicious served with thick slices of buttered wholewheat toast. Unfortunately, I won't get the chance to make it for her, as she lives in Stellenbosch."

Durban campus head Ann Nagan says it was her Mom, Sandra who passed down the love of authentic Indian cooking to her daughters and, as she has grown older with her own family and two little girls of her own, she appreciates so much more the love and care that goes behind any meal that is prepared by her mom.  “If I had to pick a favourite dish she made for us, it would be her vegetarian curry dishes and her layered seafood biriyani. She is a genius with her spice blends which makes all her dishes taste amazing. Another dish that she is well known for in our family, and one that I have manged to master as well, is her authentic South Indian Fish Curry, the recipe for which I have shared below.

“As a young girl, there was always excitement watching my mom preparing the ingredients for a meal, especially her biriyani. She never followed a recipe or measured out ingredients, because her cooking was instinctual, and this always fascinated me as a young girl. My fondest memories are of my mom and I preparing veggies and being lost in long random talks. This was a special time that was ours in which my mom passed down family recipes and the little tips and tricks behind our Indian dishes. Most importantly it was also about imparting her knowledge and advice on navigating the many facets of life.”

 So what meal would Nagan treat her Mom to on Mothers Day?

“A combination of a surf and turf menu. My mom loves all things seafood, so there will be either prawns, crayfish tails or salmon on the table. Probably all three…it is Mother’s Day after all! As well as a delicious slow braised lamb shank, which is always a definite winner.”

Sandra Nagan’s South Indian Fish Curry



One large onion, diced                   

6 green chillies, slit down the middle

1 tsp mustard seeds

1 tsp jeera (cumin) seeds

2 tbs Kashmiri masala 

1½ tbs fish masala 

8-10 ripe tomatoes

4 cloves garlic, sliced in half

2 stem curry leaves

4 tbsp black tamarind, soaked in hot water

2kgs fresh fish (I prefer salmon for this recipe)

Few small brinjals, chopped (optional)

Salt to taste


Soak tomatoes in hot water till skin starts to come off. Puree in food processor.

Add just enough oil to cover the base of a flat bottom pot and heat. 

Add mustard seeds and allow to fry. Add diced onions, green chillies and curry leaves.

Once onions are translucent add sliced garlic and masala spices. Mix well and allow to braise for a few minutes before adding the pureed tomatoes and salt to taste.

Allow to simmer on medium heat to allow tomato to reduce (15 - 20 minutes).

Mix tamarind in a little hot water to break down then using a sieve strain mixture into

mixture. Reduce heat to low and allow to cook for an additional 8 to 10 minutes.

Once it has reduced, add fish and brinjals. Careful not to break the fish. Swirl gravy around, do not mix.

Reduce heat and allow to cook for another 10 minutes or until gravy thickens and fish is

cooked through.

Garnish with coriander and serve with rice, bread or roti.

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