Zanele van Zyl is a South African chef who needs no introduction. Having risen from an impoverished background, Zanele has worked hard to become a household name; having released an impressive cookbook and hosting a variety of cooking classes across the country.

In this week’s episode of The Insider SA, Zanele opens up about her culinary journey while sharing her twist on the popular 7 Colours dish with viewers. The dish has been a staple in Zanele’s home growing up. In fact, it was Zanele’s mother who motivated her love of food, where the then-aspiring chef would grow up watching her mom whipping up this popular dish.

For Zanele, 7 Colours is a dish that’s close to her family, both past and present – Zanele remarks that “I’m a very colourful girl, and 7 Colours has got all the colours you can think of – the textures, the taste, it’s balanced – and it reminds me of my childhood. We’d open our eyes and it was there – on Sundays or Christmas!”

Named for the assortment of colours it presents when served, 7 Colours is a traditional South African meal that would include rice, chicken or beef, and sides such as pumpkin, sweet potatoes, beetroot, cabbage, beans salad, potato salad, or coleslaw. Dishes such as 7 Colours give Zanele the opportunity to do what she does best – to take her own spin on a classic meal. 

“Developing a recipe is very tricky. At culinary school, they taught us how to pair this with that – but it must always be here [in your mind]. You must always work around it, twist it, to see…. “You don’t have to be a chef to cook this meal – it’s something that will never go out of fashion!” – Zanele

With a career and personality that’s as colourful as the meals she makes, the sky is the limit for Zanele – and she has no plans to stop anytime soon and aims to release her second cookbook in October this year.

Zanele’s 7 Colours Recipe:

Zanele’s Special Dumplings

1 cup of flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 spoon sugar
1/2 cup water
1 cup chopped spinach
Handful grated carrots

Mix all the ingredients and cook in steam-proved dish for 20 minutes.

Roast Chicken Recipe

Whole roast chicken
1/2 cup mayonnaise
125ml lemon juice
10ml whole grain mustard
10ml chicken spice5ml paprika
15ml finely chopped fresh rosemary
15 finely chopped thyme
3 cloves of garlic minced
Salt and pepper

In an open bowl mix all the ingredients, marinate the whole chicken on the inside and outside. In a proved baking tray place the chicken, cover with a fold let it cook through for 45 minutes. Take the foil off let it cook for another 10 to 15 minutes to give it a nice golden and crispy on top. Serve with vegetables or rice.

Catch The Insider SA every Tuesday at 19h30 and the repeat every Saturday at 20h00 on SABC 3.