The Seven Colour South African Plate with Abigaill Mbalo – Taste of the Township

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Not many people who visit South Africa know that it is possible to visit the townships. Guided tours will show you the culture, the art, music and food in the townships. Recently, a cooking workshop with a South African chef brough the taste of the townships to London.

The Taste of the Township event was hosted by Abigail Mbalo who owns a Xhosa inspired restaurnat in Khayelitsha in Cape Town.

Abigail Mbola South African Chef
Abigail Mbola South African Chef

Abigail tells us that the biggest misconception about South Africa is that you musn’t go into townships as they are unsafe.

A group of locals are now changing perceptions of this, running guided tours and sharing their stories. There is a lot of culture to explore like food, music and street art.

Abigail shared with us her journey from a township to a career as a dental technician in the big city. After her appearance on Masterchef, she moved back to the township where she now owns a restaurant, 4Roomed eKasi Culture. Her restaurant is named after the standard four roomed homes in townships.

She wants to help the local economy and provide employment to local women. There are few jobs to be had in townships and most people have to commute a long way to work. Working with Abigail, they are proud to say that they can “walk to work” as it is such a rarity.

Back in London, Abigail leads us on a cooking journey, recreating the 7 colours plate, how they like to serve every meal. Every dish is a different colour and the resulting plate is a rainbow of delightful flavours.

Abigail Mbola South African Chef

She starts off with a demo on how to make Chakalaka, a condiment made with onions, spices, Mrs Ball’s peach chutney and baked beans! It is usually served cold as a relish to go with Brai. Check out the Chakalaka recipe here.

Our group splits up into teams to each cook one of the many dishes. Meanwhile Abigail has already made a tray of fried chicken, which I am told is the regular Sunday lunch dish. It is great eaten with the Chakalaka.

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The other dishes were a beetroot and goats cheese salad, roasted pumpkins, her mum’s vegetable rice (which is based on Nigerian Jollof rice), sauteed greens and potato salad. All the dishes are quite simple to make and within 30 minutes, all the dishes were ready to serve.

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7 colour plate - South African food
Abigails’s 7 colour plate –

Chatting with Abigail at the meal, we got an insight into her culture. We talk about spiritual practice, church food, sangomas and street art. We learn that her family’s totem animal is the bee and is a bee appears at any event she is at, she knows that she is being watched over and all is well. Coincidentally, one of the South African wines for the night had bees on its label.

You can taste Abigails food at her restaurant 4roomed. If you are worried about going into a township alone, she can even arrange for her husband to escort and guide you. Don’t miss this bit of culture in South Africa. Find out more about the Township Tours at

EatCookExplore was a guest of South Africa Tourism.

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