If you’re in the mood for chicken curry to clear (and cure!) the sinuses or a beef stew that begs to fall apart under the touch of a spoon, then you have to head over to A Taste of South Africa.
A Taste of South Africa is a humble and welcoming restaurant tucked off the busy cross section of White Street. It is, in all manners, a little gem waiting to be discovered.
Owner Delia Isaacs brought a lot more than a menu of curries and spiced stews when she came to Danbury from South Africa almost a decade ago: she brought a touch of home, old family recipes and a flavor for diversity.
Isaacs, who has worked in real estate and as a nursing assistant, had always wanted to be the owner of her own business, and brought that goal to fruition with A Taste of South Africa on May 2, 2009.
But why food?
“I noticed that the Danbury population was getting very integrated and it needed [a touch] of diversity”. South African food was the perfect poster child, especially for touting culinary diversity.
Depending on the region, South African cuisine lends itself to Dutch, English and Indian influences, which translates to a heavy-handed use of chili powder, cilantro, coriander powder, bay leaves and thyme. Sometimes these spices all go into the same dish.
The process of cooking isn’t as mysterious as the spices involved with the cuisine; the bright red dining room looks into an open kitchen where the guests can see their food being cooked before they begin to eat it.
According to Isaacs, the transparency works well because “people want to know how their food is being prepared”.
A Taste of South Africa’s dishes are certainly delicious. The beef stew is heartwarmingly spicy and so fork tender that it needs no coaxing to fall apart. Pair the stew with the raisin and cinnamon yellow rice for a delectable duo.
Also on the favorites list are the light and crispy samosas, filled with either ground beef or potatoes, and the chicken curry flavored with just the right amount of chili powder and turmeric.
Although the food is rustic, nothing is lost in terms of flavor, and preparing it brings Isaacs closer to home. As a new immigrant, she sometimes had trouble finding the true ethnic flavor that she grew up around and often tried to negotiate her way with Indian cooking. Although she wants to continue experimenting with her menu, along with her chef, Cordelia, Isaacs wants to keep the ethnic flavor strong. But the menu will not be too adventurous just yet.
“[Sometimes] people are skeptical and don’t want to try the lamb,” Issacs said. For the faint of heart, the bunny lamb stew (which has no little rabbits in the ingredient list) is decidedly the recommended option instead of the Goat Curry, which has a deeper and more robust meat flavor.
With its ample spices and varied menu option, A Taste of South Africa should be well be on its way into the hearts of worldly diners.