Hartford House

The Home of Good Conversation, Fine Wine and Classic Horses.

Award-winning hotel and restaurant situated at Summerhill Stud on the picturesque KwaZulu-Natal Midlands Meander, South Africa.


Amadumbe Soup with Biltong Ice Cream

Amadumbe Soup with Biltong Ice Cream
(Photo : Jackie Cameron)

"Amadumbe, Amadumbe, Amadumbe - Yum"

Jackie Cameron Head Chef

Jackie Cameron
Head Chef

When I think amadumbe - I remember Sunday afternoon drives with my family. We'd buy loads of amadumbe, cook them and enjoy them with lashings of butter, salt and pepper. Yum! It is amazing something so simple can conjure up many happy memories to entice me to create more interesting and exciting recipes. I will illustrate the versatility of this understated and underutilised indigenous tuber vegetable.

I will start with the simplest and most common way of eating amadumbe. The trick is to steam rather than boil. This results in a firmly textured vegetable rather than the common soggy mishmash that so often is served. I was amazed that my team of Zulus, who have grown up eating amadumbe, were unfamiliar with this method. It was Jabu Ngwane, who works for my parents, who taught me how to keep the vegetables firm.

Next up, is a rich and creamy amadumbe mash, which adds a South African flavour to any main dish. It's great at a braai and just as good when accompanying a rare-roasted beef fillet. Delicious!

I have fond memories of making and eating griddle scones with my grandmother. In a tribute to her I have developed an amadumbe version. I call this my amadumbe blini. It's like a potato crumpet, with an outer crispness and inner softness. It can be served with smoked salmon, caviar, chives and cream cheese or, for a complete ethic experience, with ostrich or springbok Carpaccio.

An amadumbe bread recipe was what I needed to fulfil my bread-eating fetish. The result was the lightest of light textures encased in a crispy crust.

The Swiss consider potato rosti one of their national dishes. It is commonly served for breakfast. Think crispy bacon, poached egg and hollandaise sauce with an amadumbe rosti - a brilliant start to any day.

Now, in a highly creative mood I experiment with a three-potato salad - amadumbe, potatoes and sweet potatoes with homemade mayonnaise, boiled eggs and grated onion. A slight variation to the original combination, which works well and adds interest to every mouthful.

How many times have you been asked : "with mash, rice or baked potatoes"? Here we are in KZN and I have never been offered amadumbe! Try sautéing onion, bacon, rosemary and amadumbi with a dash of cream for an interesting and unusual side option.

Pre-steaming, slicing and then frying results in very crispy amadumbe chips. Serve with homemade mayonnaise and lots of salt and vinegar. Another idea is to add amadumbies to stews for a distinctive taste and quality. The list can go on...

Moving from very simple ideas as above, to more of a fine dining sensation, I illustrate the unique quality and adaptability of amadumbe by creating this creamy amadumbe soup. With the addition of a velvety smooth spicy biltong ice cream, sliced biltong, crispy leeks and garlic chips this dish is a texture explosion. It's one of my favourites. (Alternatively, you could use biltong-flavoured cream rather than ice cream. Both will do, but the extreme temperature difference makes this soup extraordinary.)

Our international guests are always enthusiastic about trying something uniquely South African and especially when I call it our African potato. We should follow the internationals in their passion and interest by placing local ingredients on our tables more often. Be adventurous.

Take these recipes and try them.