Meet any South African and you will soon find that food is always at the heart of their fondest family memories….. having moved to the UK almost 18 years ago, Vaz and his family missed the hearty meals and companionship of their regular family get togethers back home. So when his lovely wife Nirusha, turned “40” he decided to throw her a birthday celebration in true South African style! Sure enough the party was a huge success and everyone who came were in awe of the variety of delicious food (including Durban Curries, Bunny Chows, Boerewors and Paellas) which had all been lovingly prepared by Vaz and his family! Little did he know that this would eventually lead to the birth of Big Pan Foods…. transforming awesome British produce into heart warmingly, authentic South African meals!
Where did it all begin?
Early European voyages of trade and discovery on the spice route led to many cultural influences on South African cuisine including Dutch, Portuguese, Spanish, French and English to name a few.
Thanks to massive waves of migration from India in the mid 19th century, first came the indentured labourers in the 1860s, followed soon after by an opportunistic merchant class who opened businesses catering to this growing community. Durban (our hometown) is now home to one of the largest populations of Indian descent anywhere in the world. “Indian cuisine in South Africa is totally different from India,”. When Indians began arriving in Durban from Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, and Karnataka in small numbers, traditions and flavours that never had occasion to interact back in India began coalescing on these faraway shores.
“We found commonalities in some cultural practices and cuisine, and discarded some others.” The pan-Indian influence, combined with the scarcity of familiar spices and ingredients, drove us to innovate with readily available produce and regional traditions, and culminated in the development of a new dialect of Indian cookery. Out went the dairy, coconut milk, and hard-to-source spices like saffron; in came amadumbe (taro), calabash (gourd), mielie-meal (maize flour), semp (dried corn kernels), and pumpkin. “
Before apartheid, Indians and blacks lived very closely—Indians could speak Zulu, blacks understood Gujarati/Hindi/Tamil and so our food became very mixed, with curries adopting African flavour. Our practices are not like India. It’s evolved into a South African Indian identity.”
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(+880) 123 456 7898
(+880) 123 456 7898