Our rainbow nation produces a rainbow plate, also known as the seven colours meal – and its stood the test of time
A meal not mentioned by many, but is fairly synonymous with South African cuisine, the seven colours meal is a firm favourite in numerous households. This meal comes from the homes and cooks of South Africa, and comprises a number of different local, traditional and classic dishes to make up a plate full of flavour, love and, of course, colour.The seven colours meal is usually served up by South African families on a Sunday, and more likely than not includes multiple families and houses from the community gathering as one to put together a home-cooked, traditional feast.
The name explains the whole idea – seven colours and seven (or usually more) delicious dishes adorn your plate. As in any scenario, these dishes can come in a variety of different forms and have been altered, specialised and often passed down from generation to generation. For some, the meal may simply be called ‘Sunday Lunch’ or ‘Mommy’s Lunch’. There is and always will be a hero – meat, either slow roasted, grilled or fried to perfection.
Curries and casseroles are also often served up. Different rice options are usually available next to a plethora of vegetable dishes such as spinach (creamed or steamed), potatoes, pumpkin, carrots and beetroot – all seasoned and perfectly roasted until crisp or tender. There’s cabbage, boiled, shredded or added to a coleslaw and a mighty bean or potato salad. You can’t miss out on a thick, delicious gravy, and to finish it off, condiments such as chakalaka, caramelised onions, salads and relishes.
A starch like pap or home-made dumplings will also usually feature to help mop up any runaway sauces. You name the dish, and it’s most likely featured on someone’s plate at some point. All together, these elements make up a brilliantly colourful (and lip-smackingly delicious) plate of food.
The purpose of most food is to bring people together, to get people cooking and to share in a love for food and community. Every family has perfected their own version of the seven colours Sunday lunch. It’s these flavours and memories made enjoying them that will form the foundation in young children’s minds for future years of cooking and nostalgia.
The idea has become so popular that it has even been turned into a cooking show, 7 Colours, where contestants can showcase their own version of the Sunday feast and highlight their culture’s authentic flavours and dishes. A number of restaurants are also serving up their own versions of the lunch to help introduce other South Africans as well as tourists to the incredible food we have available to us right on our doorstep.
These are Seven Colours Eatery (Cape Town), Ndash Food Concepts (Joburg), Little Addis Cafe (Joburg) and Sakhumzi are opening up the eyes of people, locals or not, introducing them all to new and unheard of flavours and textures, further creating new experiences, connections and understanding. Food will forever bond people, bring them together, solve worries as well as fill tummies. The seven colours meal means a lot to those who routinely cook and enjoy it.
Words by Sjaan van Der Ploeg
After being crowned as the winner of MasterChef SA Season 4, Shawn Godfrey, or the ‘Roasted Dad’, has been hard at work to make an even bigger name for himself in the industry.