Home All Things Food In the kitchen with chef Dandala

In the kitchen with chef Dandala

From the little village Dutyini in the Eastern Cape, to the classy corners of Hillcrest’s renowned 200-seater restaurant, Butlers, Chef Siphiwo Dandala’s cooking creations not only set the bar in local culinary circles, but they also tell a story of empowerment. We met up with him in the kitchen (masks and social distancing applied of course) to hear about his journey and watch him knock up some of his favourite signature dishes.

“Growing up, I never liked school because I was constantly bullied.  Eventually, when it all became too hard to tolerate, I dropped out after I finished Grade 7. I couldn’t speak English and at that stage I had little hope of a decent future. If it wasn’t for my grandfather and grandmother, life might have been different. My grandfather believed in me, so he found me work carting bricks and sand (underage of course) to keep me busy and help me prove my worth. He saw more potential in me than I realised and sent me to a private school so that I could pick up on my learning and finish matric.”

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“I passed, with really good marks, and my grandmother suggested I go into the hospitality industry because I was always in the kitchen helping her prepare meals. That’s when I came to Durban. It was a good call! My professional food journey began at a place called Zen Africa Chef Academy which I attribute for igniting my dream of becoming a real chef.

My first job was at Durban Country Club and I learned the art of fine dining working as Chef de Partie at the Greedy Buddah. When I joined the team as head chef at Butlers, I found my home. They’ve supported my ideas, given me room to grow and continued to stand behind me as I’ve worked my way up the ranks of the Senior Division of Unilever Chef of the Year Competition, something I am extremely proud of.”

“The kitchen is my playground, I find peace and am at my best when I am able to use my hands and my skills to create beautiful dishes for others to enjoy!”

Trust us, you’ll do more than enjoy them! Chef’s Prawn and Cucumber Roulade with feta puree, coriander crumble & vanilla oil is to die for; then there’s the Pan Roasted Duck Breast served with red cabbage puree, fondant potato, sautéed vegetables and black cherry jus, another melt-in-your-mouth moment; and for those who love dessert, Chef’s Study of Chocolate is the stuff of foodie dreams – white chocolate mousse, caramelised pineapple, marinated strawberries, dark chocolate disk and crystalized white chocolate served with lemon grass and ginger consume.

Sound delish? We were salivating and luck us, got to sample this delish dishes and loved every mouthful.

We asked Chef Dandala to share his amazing recipes, so that you can recreate them in the comfort of your own kitchens. We hope you enjoy!

Prawn and Cucumber Roulade

with Feta Puree, coriander crumble & Vanilla oil


Prawn Roulade



150g prawns

40g onion

10g garlic

Pinch salt and white pepper

5ml Sunflower oil

1 egg white



Pre heat oven 180 degrees. Cook onion and garlic in a pot, then pour into blender together with the prawns. Blitz together, then add egg white, salt and pepper and blitz until smooth. Pour it on to prepared tinfoil and roll it to form a long sausage shape. Bake in the oven, at a standard temperature, for 15 to 20 minutes until cooked. Set aside to cool.


Cucumber Ribbon



60ml white wine vinegar

60ml water

60g white sugar

1 English cucumber



Heat the vinegar, water, sugar on the stove until sugar dissolves. Set aside to cool. Make cucumber ribbon using a potato peeler, then add the cucumber to vinegar liquid and leave it to soak for 10 to 15 min before removing the cucumber from the liquid. Using a sushi mat (if you have one), wrap the prawn roulade in the cucumber slices.


Feta puree



150g feta

25g salted butter

60ml double cream



Add butter and cream into a sauce pan, simmer until butter melts, then pour the mixture into a blender with the feta and blitz until smooth


Vanilla air



50 g castor sugar

50ml milk

5 ml vanilla essence

10g lecithin granules



Boil everything together, then set aside to cool, then pour into the blender and blitz until you get foam.


Coriander crumble



20g fresh coriander (leaves and stalks)

75 g salted butter

45g brown sugar

1tsp ground cumin

125g cake flour

Pinch of salt



Add butter, coriander, sugar, salt and cumin into the blender and blitz until a green paste forms, then scrape into a large bowl, add flour and mix together to form a green ball. Press the mixture onto a greased baking tray until it’s a thin layer, and bake for 10 to 15 minutes until the mixture hardens and the finish product is like a big green biscuit. Remove any charred bits from the edge and break up the biscuit into a crumbly mixture.

Plate the meal as best you can.


Pan Roasted Duck Breast

With red cabbage puree, fondant potato, sautéed vegetables & black cherry jus


Red cabbage puree



60ml water

60ml white wine vinegar

60g castor sugar

200g red cabbage



Finely chop the red cabbage, add all ingredients into a pan, and cook it on low heat until reduced by two thirds. Make sure cabbage is soft, strain the liquid, add cabbage to a blender and blitz until smooth.


Duck breast



1 duck breast

Pinch salt and white pepper

2g thyme

1 glove garlic

10g salted butter



Preheat oven to 180°C. Take a large frying pan and heat until it’s hot. Season the duck breast and place skin side down in the pan. Fry for 3 to 4 min until golden brown and sear briefly on the other side. Put the pan in the oven and cook for 6 to 8 minutes. Remove and set aside to rest for 3 to 4 min.


Fondant potato



2 large potatoes peeled cut into cylinders

150g salted butter

200ml chicken stock or water

2g thyme

1 clove garlic



In a small to medium saucepan, melt the butter, add the herbs, stock or water, then place the potatoes in the pan, season lightly. Make sure the potatoes are covered completely with the liquid then simmer until cooked (about 30 minutes) depending on the size.




Trim and quarter:

10g Baby marrow

10g Carrots

10g Broccoli

10g Cherry tomatoes

20g Salted butter

Pinch salt and white pepper



Blanch baby marrow, carrots, broccoli and tomatoes in salted boiling water for 5 min until tender, then drain and refresh under cold running water. Heat up in a pan with butter then add vegetable seasoning, salt and pepper.


Black Cherry Jus



250ml chicken stock

60ml red wine

40g black cherries



Boil chicken stock and red wine until reduced by two thirds or until thickened to a syrupy consistency. Then add the cherries, set aside until ready to serve.

Plate the meal as best you can.


Study of Chocolate

White chocolate mousse, caramelised pineapple, marinated strawberries, dark chocolate disk, crystalized white chocolate, lemon grass & ginger consume


White chocolate mousse



80 g white chocolate

500ml cream

5g gelatine



Whip the cream until a stiff peak is formed. To temper the chocolate, place it in a mixing bowl and microwave on high for 30 seconds at a time until it has melted. Add gelatine and mix well until dissolved. Add melted chocolate into whipped cream, make sure chocolate is not hot.

Mix well then place in the fridge to set for 15 to 20 minutes.


Caramelized Pineapple



1 star anise

1 cinnamon stick

60g white sugar

20ml glucose

1 pineapple



Take a clean pineapple and cut into rings. In a pan, add sugar, spices, glucose and pineapple and slow cook until sugar is golden then turn off the heat. Remove pineapple from the liquid and allow to cool.




100g strawberries

20g castor sugar

5g mint leaves



Chop the mint finely and mix it with the sugar. Cut the strawberries in half, then sprinkle the minted sugar over the strawberries and leave for 10 to 15 min.



Crystalized chocolate



60g white chocolate

30g white sugar

15ml glucose



Place sugar and glucose into a pan on medium heat. Once the sugar has melted, add chocolate and mix with a wooden spoon. The chocolate will start crystalizing so pour it on a greaseproof paper and let it cool down.



Ginger and lemon grass consume



50g lemon grass

50g ginger

500ml water

60g white sugar



Finely chop the lemon grass. Peel and grate the ginger. Mix with sugar and water in a pot and cook for 30 minutes. Set aside to cool for an hour then strain it.



Chocolate disc



200g dark chocolate buttons



Place the chocolate in a glass mixing bowl and microwave on high for 30 seconds at a time until most of the chocolate has melted, give it a stir each time. You will need a large sheet of acetate, use a small palette knife, spread a 2mm layer and let it set a little, use a round cutter to cut the disc. If you’re a master of crafts, see if you can plate this dish as set out in the photo.

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