Maverick Life


Try this braaied snoek and carrot & bean salad from Chef Mbombi’s ‘An African Bite’

Try this braaied snoek and carrot & bean salad from Chef Mbombi’s ‘An African Bite’
'An African Bite' by Chef Mbombi. Image composite: The Reading List

If we don’t keep cooking ‘heritage’ dishes, there is a risk of them being lost forever. ‘An African Bite’ celebrates the simplicity and authenticity of African food for a contemporary cook.

As a modern man living an urban lifestyle, but also someone with a deep connection to his Xitsonga and Zulu culture, Chef Mbombi set out to create a cookbook that celebrates the food he was raised on.

Traditionally, cooking skills were passed from mother to daughter and there were no written recipes or YouTube videos to refer to. Nowadays, social media can overwhelm us with too many choices and it is hard to know who to trust. An African Bite is Chef Mbombi’s tribute to the women who taught him to cook – from his mother and grandmother to the high school economics teacher who made him realise that he could turn his passion into a career. 

His uncomplicated, straightforward recipes will encourage even hesitant cooks to attempt dishes like curried tripe, chicken gizzards, goat meat stew, amathambo (meaty beef bones) umleqwa, shisanyama, vegetable sides like imifino (leafy greens) and muboora (pumpkin leaves), and traditional drinks like umqombothi and amahewu.


Braaied Snoek and peaches with herb mayo

When it comes to braaied fish, snoek is the queen! This dish is a great choice for a relaxed Saturday afternoon with family or friends.  

Prep time: 5-10 minutes (± 1–2 hours marinating time)

Cooking time: 20-30 minutes

Serves 4


  • 1 whole snoek (± 1 kg)
  • 2–3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp biltong spice or braai spice
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 lemon, thinly sliced
  • 4 ripe peaches or nectarines
  • 1–2 Tbsp olive oil
  • Ground black pepper to taste


Herb mayo

  • 2 cups (500 ml) mayonnaise
  • 2–3 Tbsp lemon juice
  • Fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • Fresh basil, finely chopped
  • 1 Tbsp black pepper
  • 2 tsp truffle oil, optional


Using a sharp knife, make three or four diagonal cuts in the skin of the snoek. 


Combine the olive oil, pepper, biltong spice or braai spice and salt in a small bowl and rub all over the fish. Place the lemon slices inside the snoek. Leave to chill in fridge for 1–2 hours. 


When ready to cook, prepare the braai with medium-hot coals. Place the snoek on an oiled braai grid and cook for 10–15 minutes per side. 


Halve the peaches and remove the stones. Brush lightly with olive oil and season with black pepper. When you turn the snoek, place the peaches on the grid, skin-side down. After about 5 minutes, turn them to give the flesh some grill marks. (Prepare the peaches at the last minute, to prevent them from discolouring.)


To make the herb mayo 

Place the mayonnaise in a mixing bowl with the lemon juice, chopped herbs and black pepper. Stir to combine. Check the seasoning, scoop into a serving bowl and place in the fridge until ready to serve. Just before serving, drizzle over the truffle oil.

Chef’s tips

  • Defrost frozen snoek according to the package instructions.
  • Instead of truffle oil, use 1–2 tsp garlic-, chilli-, lemon-, or basil-flavoured oil to flavour the mayonnaise.


Carrot & bean salad with peppadews

Peppadews®, also known as sweet chilli peppers or piquanté peppers, add a bit of heat to this salad.

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: 15 minutes

Serves: 4


  • 3–4 medium carrots, cut into strips or julienned, see Chef’s tip
  • 2 cups (± 200 g) green beans, halved lengthways
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 red onion, very thinly sliced
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed or finely chopped
  • 1 Tbsp BBQ spice
  • 1 can (400 g) red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • ½ cup Peppadews®, drained and roughly chopped
  • ½ cup parsley or microherbs, plus extra for garnish


Place the carrots in a pot with water to cover. Bring to the boil for 10 minutes, then add the green beans and cook for a further 3 minutes. Drain and set aside to cool. 


Heat the oil in a pan. Add the onion, garlic and BBQ spice and fry until golden and tender, about 4 minutes. 


Combine the cooked carrots, beans and onion mixture in a serving bowl. 


Add the kidney beans, Peppadews® and chopped parsley or microherbs and toss lightly. Chill in the fridge, and garnish with extra parsley or microherbs before serving.


Chef’s tips

‘Julienned’ means to cut carrots (or other vegetables) into thin strips, about 2–3 mm thick and 3–5 cm long. To save time, buy precut carrot sticks. DM/ ML

An African Bite by Mbonani Daniel Mbombi is published by Penguin Random House SA (R340). Visit The Reading List for South African book news – including recipes! – daily.

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