Holy Easter Sunday lunch
Chef Pule helps us celebrate Easter with a weekend filled with family and fabulous food
Private chef Pule Seshemane says the kitchen in his family home is his favourite place, as he likes to experiment there. He tells me this while seated on a yellow, pinstriped piano stool in his home in leafy Parktown, Joburg. We are talking about the Easter holidays and the menu he has curated. For the 31-year-old chef, the religious holiday is synonymous with family.
“For me Easter, means breaking your fast with friends, family, and your loved ones,” he says. “I was brought up Anglican, so Easter plays a very important role in my life.”
Seshemane fondly recalls the various Easter rituals, from observing Ash Wednesday to celebrating Easter Day itself, when the family goes to a church service and returns for lunch.
His advice for your Easter menu is to keep things authentic and simple. He also urges people to try different cooking styles and dishes when making Easter lunch. For single-person or two-person households, he suggests that you try his personal favourite — Mediterranean cuisine.
Seshemane’s home is filled with art, which serves as the soft-spoken chef’s inspiration — particularly a Zanele Muholi artwork in the library. “Food, I find, is also art, especially when you plate it,” he adds.
The International Hotel School alumnus also studied travel and tourism at Varsity College in the hope of working and travelling overseas. But then he decided to pivot. “I love South Africa — it’s home. I wanted to start here and then go overseas,” he says.
He’s worked at Moyo Zoo Lake and the Hilton Sandton, and did his longest stint at the Southern Sun OR Tambo International Airport Hotel. In 2019, he decided to fly solo. He started with a dinner for 50 people and has since graduated to catering to 200 and more. His culinary style is contemporary African soul food.
When the pandemic hit, his business took a knock, but his catering clients came through for him. They contacted him to prepare family dinners during lockdown, and so kept his business afloat.
Seshemane’s long-term goal is to expand and elevate his brand, but he’s not thinking about starting a restaurant or anything like that — he’s happy being a private chef. His dream collaboration would be with chef Siba Mtongana.
“I find her dishes exquisite. Her recipes are easy to follow and she’s been in the industry for so long, and opened her own restaurant. Also, when I first became a chef I watched a lot of cooking shows and enjoyed hers on the Food Network,” he explains.
Seshemane was born in Benoni and in his late teens moved to Parkwood. He remembers being sent to the store by his grandmother to buy tomatoes for soup, which she then taught him to make. By the time he was in matric, he already knew he wanted to work in the culinary industry. Now, his favourite outing is shopping for ingredients.
Tips for a simple, affordable Easter menu
Hake: Crumb hake fillets using flour, beaten egg, and fish spice (or substitute breadcrumbs for the flour, if you prefer). Deep-fry the fish, remembering to place the pieces in the hot oil one by one.
Rice: Make basmati rice, and add raisins or coriander for some colour.
Spinach: You can never go wrong with a side dish of creamed spinach and cheddar cheese.
Dessert: Malva pudding with custard is a great South African staple.
Drinks: A local wine from the odd bins of a favourite retailer should do. If you want to be adventurous, you can try a mojito (virgin or alcoholic), and if you have a beer-loving relative, this is the perfect opportunity to let them try out a craft beer or lager such as Soweto Gold.
Garlic, Rosemary, and Thyme Lamb Chops
- salt and pepper
- 4 lamb chops
- 6 cloves garlic, crushed
- 3 rosemary sprigs, stripped and chopped
- 2 teaspoons thyme, chopped
- 3 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
Generously season both sides of the lamb chops with salt and pepper. Combine the crushed garlic, rosemary, thyme, and 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a small bowl.
Rub the mixture on both sides of the chops and let them marinate for at least 30 minutes at room temperature.
Heat a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add 2 teaspoons of olive oil. Once hot, add the chops.
Sear the meat until browned, about 2 to 3 minutes.
Flip and cook until the meat reaches an internal temperature of 50°C.
Rest meat for 10 minutes before serving.
Hot Cross Bun Bread-and-Butter Pudding
- 350ml full-cream milk
- 50ml double cream
- 3 eggs
- 4 teaspoons granulated sugar
- 2 vanilla pods, halved & seeds scraped out, or 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 6 hot cross buns, sliced in half
- 25g butter, plus extra for greasing
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon powder
- 1 handful raisins
Preheat the oven to 180°C. Grease a large shallow ovenproof dish (approx. 25x32cm). For the custard base, bring the milk and cream just to the boil in a saucepan. Whisk the combined eggs, 2 teaspoons of sugar, and vanilla with a fork in a larger bowl, then gradually add the warm cream mixture.
Halve the buns and spread with the butter. Arrange in the ovenproof dish. Pour the strained custard over the layered hot cross buns and sprinkle with cinnamon, raisins, and the remaining sugar. Leave to stand at room temperature for at least 30 minutes. (Note: at this stage you can store the pudding in the fridge until you’re ready to bake it. Ideally, bring the pudding back to room temperature for 30 minutes beforehand.)
Place the dish the oven and bake for 30-40 minutes, or until the custard has set and the top is golden brown.
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