World Cup Cook-off: Italy and South Africa

Bay funnyman and much-loved Centrestage entertainer Gino Fabbri is our first guest on The Global Table this weekend, where he – or rather his hilarious Italian alter ego – will share a much-loved Veronese pasta sauce recipe as part of our World Cup Cook-off. See Gino’s video demonstration above – and check out a transcript of his recipe below. Also don’t miss our second World Cup Cook-off contributor this weekend – simply scroll down for Avusa staffer Mureedah Ismail’s delicious chicken curry rotis!

Picture: Salvelio Meyer

Gino Fabbri. Picture: Salvelio Meyer

Cooking with Gino

“My Nonno and Nonna (grandfather and grandmother) Fabbri came to South Africa in the early 1950s from Verona, an ancient Italian town made even more famous by Romeo and Juliet,” says Gino.

“My Nonno Ugo was the maintenance manager at the new Sappi Adamas factory that was set up in Port Elizabeth’s Deal Party. My father was just six when they came out here, and this is where my Italian heritage stems from. And, although I love my Italian roots, I’m also a proud, born-and-bred South African – my mom, Jenny, was a Van Staden! My musical genes come from her, but the passion and craziness are all Italian!”

The rich and deliciously meaty pasta sauce recipe Gino is demonstrating in today’s video was a favourite of his late Nonna Alda’s.

“My mom, Marco and my Zio (uncle) Neddo all know this recipe – it’s the one that Nonna would make when we were small boys sitting at her big kitchen table. She made the pasta in the afternoon with some help from her grandsons (eating all the offcuts!), dry it and then make and add the sugo (sauce). We still make it today, but she made it better than any of us because she made it with all her love.”

Picture: Salvelio Meyer

Nonna Alda's delicious sugo. Picture: Salvelio Meyer

Nonna Alda’s Pasta Verona – The Recipe

The secret of this recipe, says Gino, is that it must cook for very long – at least an hour and a half. The pork mince, rosemary and carrot were his Nonna’s secret ingredients and should not be omitted. Gino says the sauce freezes very well. The Global Table has tested this recipe and it is truly delicious – don’t be tempted to add sugar to cut the acidity of the tomatoes as the extended cooking time will take care of that.


50g butter; half a cup of olive oil; 1 large onion, chopped; a few sprigs of fresh rosemary, washed and tied together with a bit of cotton; 4 cloves of garlic, chopped; 500g extra-lean beef mince; 100g pork mince; 1 large carrot, peeled and cut into three or four segments; 1 tin (400g) tomato puree; 2 x 125g tins of tomato paste; a little dried oregano or basil (or both); salt and freshly-ground pepper; a glass of red wine; a glass of water; fresh pasta and good-quality parmesan for serving


Heat the butter and olive oil in a large pan; add the chopped onion and garlic and cook until soft and browned; you can also add the rosemary from the word go.

Add the beef and pork mince and brown till loose. Add the tomato puree and tomato paste, as well as the oregano and/or basil.

While it’s simmering, add the carrot (you will be removing it later, once the sugo is completely cooked).

Add the water and wine, and gently keep simmering the sugo – the total cooking time should be at least 1 and a half hours, by which time the sauce will be rich and thick, and the meat very fine.

You can also add a bit more water/wine along the way if needed, and will of course need to stir it occasionally.

When the sauce is ready, remove the rosemary stalks and carrot.

Serve with pasta which has been cooked al dente, and top with grated parmesan. Most importantly, pour some more red wine and make a toast – saluti!

World Cup Cook-off: South Africa

Picture: Salvelio Meyer

Mureedah Ismail. Picture: Salvelio Meyer

Our second guest on The Global Table’s World Cup Cook-off today is Mureedah Ismail, an Avusa staffer born and bred in Nelson Mandela Bay and known for her fantastic chicken curry rotis.

Mureedah was raised in the Malay tradition and as such food and family are very important elements of daily life. She says this very traditional form of South African cooking is especially appealing because of its “magical use of spices”.

“A dish that is popular, whether for for everyday or special occasions, is breyani (a rice-based dish that can contain either chicken, meat or fish).  The preparation that goes into it is a bit time-consuming, but it’s worth the effort,” she says. “Then there’s our famous curry and rice, prepared in large quantities on a fire for weddings  and  funerals.

“Rotis, on the other hand, might seem a bit complicated, but once you have mastered making them, are a breeze.

“We are taught to cook and bake  as  teenagers while still living at home, and we learn at an early age that  all the spices and ingredients are carefully selected for the various dishes.”

Picture: Salvelio Meyer

Mureedah's chicken curry rotis. Picture: Salvelio Meyer

Mureedah’s Chicken Curry Rotis – The Recipe

Mureedah says rotis are great for home freezing and can easily be reheated when needed, including in the microwave for about 20 seconds per roti. Ready-made rotis can also be bought at some stores.

The curry recipe itself yields enough filling to use up all the rotis you’ll be making, and the dish will serve around 6 to 7 people.

Ingredients for the chicken curry

1kg chicken fillet, cut into portions; 1 large onion, thinly sliced; 30ml sunflower oil; 1 tbsp fresh garlic and ginger (can be bought ready-chopped and mixed); 1 tsp turmeric (borrieto us South Africans!); 1 tsp ground jeera (cumin) powder; 2 tbsp ‘mother-in-law’ masala; salt to taste; fresh coriander or cilantro, chopped finely; water; 4 medium potatoes, cut in cubes; 2 tbsp tomato paste

Method for the chicken curry

Wash and drain the chicken; fry the onions in heated oil until golden brown.  Add the chicken to the onions.  Add the garlic and ginger, then the turmeric, jeera and masala, plus salt, and some water. Add the potatoes. Cook for 20 minutes. Add tomato paste and simmer until the potatoes are soft.  Add coriander and simmer for another 5 minutes.

Ingredients for the rotis

4 cups cake flour; salt; 45ml sunflower oil; 250ml cold water; 175g butter

Method for the rotis

Combine flour and salt in a bowl.  Add oil, rubbing into flour to form a crumbly mixture.  Add water and mix to a soft dough.  Knead, adding extra flour (if needed) to make an even-textured dough.  Leave to rest for 30 minutes.  Roll out on a lightly floured surface and spread with butter.  Roll up dough and cut into 8 pieces.  Twirl into little balls.  Leave to rest for 20 minutes.  Roll out in a round shape on a lightly-floured surface.

Heat a heavy-based frying pan and fry the rotis one at a time, turning occasionally until nice and fluffy.  Remove from pan and pat with hands.

Serve hot with the curry.

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