Celebrate South African Heritage Day

One of the UAE's most picturesque resorts is hosting a week of African celebration

Al Sahel Villa Resort
Al Sahel Villa Resort

In honour of South African Heritage Day on Wednesday September 24, one resort in the UAE’S capital is hosting a week of celebrations. Road trip to Abu Dhabi, anyone?

As South Africa celebrates its annual Heritage day on Wednesday September 24, one African-inspired resort in the capital is getting ready to turn itself into a dining destination, with a whole week’s worth of Heritage Day parties. Anantara Al Sahel Villa Resort is a safari-style lodge surrounded by grasslands on Sir Bani Yas Island, located 100km south of Abu Dhabi.

Since September 24 is also known as ‘National Braai Day’, the resort is hosting three braai evenings this week, held outside at its South African restaurant, Savannah Grill, on September 19, 24 and 26. Guests will dine on South African specialities at an al fresco buffet, in an area illuminated by a fire pit and lanterns hanging from trees. The dining area will resemble a traditional ‘boma’, or circular enclosure. Nomadic tribes originally protected themselves and their animals from roaming lions or hyenas by building an open fire in the centre of a circle, which they surrounded by branches. These bomas evolved to become a daily meeting place for tribal elders and are now a type of public square where villagers host weddings and other festivities.

Freshly baked South African breads made with hops or sweetcorn will be available, as will vetkoek, a deep-fried pastry stuffed with cooked mince or spread with syrup, honey or jam. You can dunk your bread in soup – choose from roast butternut and cassia (Chinese cinnamon) or chilled roast plum tomato, with a few garlic and herb croutons thrown in. Try biltong salad made with cured beef, pan-African roasted pickled vegetables and slaphakskeentjies – small pickled onions in a spicy, tangy sauce.

Meats from the barbecue will include braised beef rib eye in red grape onion marmalade, medallions of venison steaks and skilpadjies – lamb’s liver wrapped in netvet, the fatty membrane that surrounds the kidneys. You can also sample boerewors or ‘boeries’ (beef sausages) as well as curried chicken and apricot sosaties (kebabs) and botter mielies – Afrikaans for buttered corn on the cob.

Potjiekos is a one-pot stew traditionally prepared in a cast iron cauldron called a potjie, which is heated on coals. The resort will have a 55-litre potjie from which all diners can eat, as well as smaller ones the size of a coffee pot which will be left on your table. Choose from lamb or braised oxtail. You can also try bobotie, curried minced meat baked with an egg-based topping, a little like the Greek dish moussaka, or try ‘bunny chow’. If you’re not from South Africa, rest assured we’re not suggesting you chow down on the chef’s pet rabbit; this dish is a hollowed out loaf of bread filled with slow-cooked curry.

For dessert, you can sample individual servings of milk tartlets or hertzoggies, which are light puff pastry tartlets filled with apricot jam meringue (named after General Barry Hertzog, South Africa’s prime minister between 1924 and 1939). You can also treat yourself to koeksisters. The name comes from the Dutch word ‘koekje’ (meaning cookie), although the plaited, deep-fried dough which is dipped into syrup is closer to a doughnut. Alternatively, have a slice of cakes such as heuningkoek (honey cake) or spiced apple. Finally, finish your heritage day feast with a traditional dessert of malva pudding. It’s a hot sponge cake filled with apricot jam and served with a creamy custard that is flavoured with the fruit of the African marula tree.
Braai: Dhs250 per person. From 7.30pm, September 19, 24 and 26. Savannah Grill, Anantara Al Sahel Villa Resort, Sir Bani Yas Island (02 801 4300). Mid-week stays from Dhs1,200 per night with breakfast (Dhs875 for South Africans), weekend stays from Dhs1,600 per night with breakfast (Dhs1,125 for South Africans). crome@anantara.com, www.anantara.com (02 656 1399).

Dubai celebrations

Emirates Golf Club
The club hosts a South African ‘bring and braai’. There is also South African entertainment from comedian Schalk Bezuidenhout and House Of Afrika DJ Just Lance, plus plenty of activities for children
(including a petting zoo and bouncy castle) and touch rugby.
Dhs100 entry. Free for children under 12. Friday September 19, 3pm-10pm. infusionintern@gmail.com.

For one night only, K.Grill celebrates African culinary culture with a dinner on Thursday September 18. Five different African grape varieties will be matched with a five-course set menu of pan-African cooking.
Dhs295 per person. Thursday September 18. 7.30pm-11pm. Kempinski Hotel Mall of the Emirates, Al Barsha (04 409 5999).

Ranches Restaurant
Bring the children to this family- friendly event taking place on Heritage Day, and enjoy a dinner buffet of South African dishes.
Dhs125 per person. Dhs60 (children). Free for children under six. Wednesday September 24, 7pm-10pm. Arabian Ranches Golf Club (04 360 7935).

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