Heritage Day is one of our favourite public holidays at the Roundhouse, a day that celebrates the diverse cultures, beliefs and traditions that make up the heart of the South African nation. As a beacon of the Camps Bay landscape since 1786, The Roundhouse has witnessed the ecological, cultural and social changes that have shaped the development of our local community.

Our menu pays homage to the rich South African flavours and international taste nuances that make up our national palate and at The Roundhouse quite a few of our menu favourites are made from local recipes.

Leading up to heritage day, I am reminded of the story of our Cape Malay Chicken Curry because ours is an original recipe!

A chef who worked with us for a season or two, a few years ago told me about the time he was at a neighbourhood New Year’s Eve party when he was about fourteen years old.

Everybody on the block had to make a dish for the party. His mother was making their family’s famed curry and he had been tasked with watching the rice when the most beautiful girl he had ever seen walked through the door. Her name was Alyzza.

He spent the best part of an hour sitting at his post at the gas stove with his rice pot trying to work up the nerve to speak to her when he felt a tap on his shoulder and there she was. She was looking for the Garam Masala. His mom had said she had left it next to the rice pot but It wasn’t there!

Like any gentleman would, he offered to help her search for this all important ingredient. Because it’s not a Cape Malay curry without masala.

He was rummaging through all the food packets when he got another tap on his shoulder, as he looked up, there were flames 30 centimetres high coming off the rice pot. In a panic, he grabbed more rice and threw the rest of the packet onto the flame, which only served to stoke the fire. I’m not entirely sure why he thought that would help?

“That’s when everything started going crazy” he said. Everyone was trying their best to douse the fire but having no luck. The flames were growing higher and panic was beginning to set in. The house was filling with smoke, and his dad and uncle were trying to get everyone out of the house. One of the neighbours ran next door to call the firefighters.

His mother was pulling on his hand, trying to get him out of the kitchen. Alyzza was about a metre away from him at this point. He lunged towards her and caught hold of her hand. She looked at him for a moment, squeezed his hand once and then with a determined look on her face, she walked towards the flaming stove. He told me how he remembered feeling like his heart was beating in his throat. His eyes were stinging from the smoke and he was struggling to breathe but he still tried to go after Alyzza.

Suddenly the flames just disappeared!  The mad panic was quickly replaced with general confusion.

“Where did the fire go?” His father asked to no one in particular. That’s when Alyzza emerged from the smoky haze and said simply “I turned the gas off”.  Beautiful, smart and brave – our chef was smitten!

After a disastrous start, the rest of the New Year’s Eve party went off without a hitch and was a roaring success.

To this day he always adds the masala to a Cape Malay curry before starting the rice and at The Roundhouse we follow his mother’s recipe to the tee.

The story of the fire is still recited at family braai’s and our chef is always ‘blamed’ because he left his post to chase a beautiful woman but he says he always gets the last laugh because he’s been married to that beautiful woman for twenty years.

From all of us at The Roundhouse, we wish you an exceptional heritage day and If you haven’t made any plans for the 24th of September, come spend your afternoon with us and try the Cape Malay chicken curry that launched a 20-year-old romance.

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