Chef Citrum Khumalo: Food and Beer - a match made in heaven

13 Aug 12

Chef Citrum Khumalo Food and Beer - a match made in heaven

Culinary expert and chef extraordinaire, Chef Citrum Khumalo is of the opinion that ‘the mouth of the perfectly happy man is filled with beer’ - paired with mouth-watering food, naturally! Read more on food and beer pairing and Chef Khumalo’s unique summer recipes.

Beer and boerie rolls, beer and biltong, beer and braai chops. Beyond these tried and tested combinations many of us don't imagine that beer could be partnered to perfection with culinary classics such as coq au vin or tiramisu, boeuf bourguignon or amaretto tart.

We are conditioned to associate a delicate fish dish with a white wine, a robust casserole with a red. For decades wine has dominated the stage where it comes to pairing food and drink - but good news for beer lovers and aficionados is that the fruits of the vine now have to share the limelight and make space for the brewers' gold.

Food and beer pairing

Food and beer pairing is a growing trend internationally and South Africa is no exception. Increasingly, top chefs and influential foodies are giving the nod to beer as an exciting companion to gastronomy.

Just imagine the delicate flavours of sushi offset by easy drinking Castle Light, its bitterness lingering on the tongue. Consider a deliciously decadent chocolate fondant accompanied by the creaminess of Castle Milk Stout or think of salmon and cream cheese partnered with smooth, slightly sweet Miller Genuine Draft. The possibilities are endless. And sensational.

Some useful tips

When pairing food and beer, there are a few points to consider.

  • Start by identifying the characteristic tastes of beer that are similar to other tastes we are familiar with. For example: some beers have a fruity flavour with overtones of banana or citrus, others have a roasted flavour, creamy and reminiscent of toffee. Again, some beers have a malty taste while others are more bitter.
  • Then try to pick out the flavours in the beer that match or contrast with those in food.

SAB Trade Brewer Kate Jones has a few useful ground rules when pairing beer with food: ‘For those bound to the wine pairing school of thought it is useful to think of ale as red wine and lager as white. To begin with, seek compatibility: beer and food combinations often work best when they have some flavour or aroma elements in common. The herby bitterness of hops in beer goes well with food that is slightly spiced, like cooked meat or fish. Try to match beer strength with food strength.

Put simply, delicate dishes work best with delicate beers, and it is equally true that strongly flavoured foods demand assertive beers.’

Uniquely South African recipes

Beer, in its versatility as well as diversity, can provide both complimentary and contrasting experiences when paired with meals and in a summer food and beer pairing extravaganza, SAB partnered with local culinary expert, Chef Citrum Khumalo, in order to create a feast of new, uniquely South African dishes and then to partner them with the perfect beer for those sun-drenched summer days around the braai.

‘The mouth of a perfectly happy man is filled with beer’, Chef Khumalo quoted the Egyptian proverb as he set about cooking up a storm adding, ‘couple that with mouth-watering, South African dishes and you have a winning summer combination’.

Chef Khumalo’s menu is packed with flavour and in his own words, ‘I’ve created a menu that brings together a medley of South African tastes for those scorching summer days’. His dishes, each coupled with a complimentary brew, culminate in a match made in heaven.

Baby Braai potato, rocket and Jalapeno salad

  • 1kg new potatoes
  • 2 whole garlic cloves
  • 150ml olive oil
  • 200g jalapeno peppers
  • A bunch of rocket
  • Zest of a lemon
  • Juice of a lemon
  • 3 tomatoes blanched, seeded and cut into wedges
  • 30ml vinegar
  • 1tsp mustard
  • A pinch sugar
  • 30g pink peppercorns crushed
  • 80g walnuts
  • Salt

Mix 15g of peppercorns with 50ml olive oil, lemon zest and juice of the lemon. Cut potatoes in half and toss them in the oil mixture. Leave them in the mixture for 30 minutes.

Get your braai to medium-hot. If your braai grid has big gaps, layer foil on top, then throw potatoes and whole garlic cloves on to the foil, turning them all the time to avoid burning, until they are soft. Remove from heat, peel garlic and set aside.

In a mixing bowl, vigorously whisk 30ml vinegar, 90ml olive oil, mustard and a pinch of sugar to make a vinaigrette (salad dressing). Season with salt.

In a big bowl, toss potatoes, half a packet of rocket, jalapeno, garlic and tomato wedges. Moisten with vinaigrette. Arrange on a platter, top with remaining rocket and sprinkle some walnuts on top.

Piquant and pepperoni beer bread

  • 400g all-purpose flour
  • 2¼tsp baking powder
  • ½tsp dried coriander
  • ½tsp salt
  • ¼tsp baking soda
  • ¼tsp crushed black pepper
  • 1½ cups grated mozzarella cheese
  • 1 cup diced pepperoni
  • ½ cup piquant peppers diced, with all water drained
  • ¼ cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes
  • 2 large eggs
  • ¾ cup beer
  • ¼ cup olive oil, plus extra for coating pan

Heat the oven to 180C and place rack in the middle. Generously coat a metal 22.5cm by 12.5cm loaf pan with olive oil. Line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper and coat the paper with oil; set aside. Whisk the flour, baking powder, oregano, salt, baking soda and pepper together in a large bowl until aerated and any large lumps broken up. Add the cheese, pepperoni, piquant peppers and tomatoes, and toss in the flour mixture until the pieces are separated and evenly coated; set aside.

Place the eggs, beer and measured olive oil in a medium bowl and whisk until smooth. Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture and stir until the flour is just incorporated, being careful not to over-mix (a few streaks of flour are OK). The batter will be very thick.

Using a rubber spatula, scrape the batter into the prepared pan, pushing it into the corners and smoothing the top. Bake until the bread is golden brown all over and a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean (test several spots because you may hit a pocket of cheese), about 40 to 45 minutes.

Place the pan on a wire rack to cool for 15 minutes. Run a knife around the perimeter of the bread and turn it out on to the rack. Remove and discard the parchment paper. Let the bread cool for at least 30 minutes more before slicing.

Chicken sausage with a traditional stuffing

  • 1 whole chicken
  • 200g-lamb mogodu (tripe) cooked to soft and roughly chopped
  • 4 slices of fresh breadcrumbs
  • 2 handfuls of fresh oregano
  • 4 rashers of bacon grilled and cut into small pieces
  • Chicken bones
  • 1 stack of celery
  • 50g carrots
  • 100g onions
  • 4 cups beer
  • 100g butter
  • Kitchen string/ twine

Debone chicken and flatten it. Season with salt, pepper and lemon. In a bowl, mix chopped mogodu, breadcrumbs, bacon and one handful of oregano. Spread mixture over the flattened chicken and roll to a sausage, tie with kitchen twine. Roll chicken in oregano and lemon mixture, and place on medium coals. Cook on coals for about an hour, basting with the oregano mixture. If chicken browns too quickly wrap in foil and continue cooking.

In a pot, roast chicken bones until brown, add vegetables and continue cooking. Add beer and let reduce until it starts to thicken. Strain and put back on to the stove. Season with salt and pepper, and whisk in butter. Serve with dumplings or rice.

Chilli, Skop & Beer terrine

  • 1 whole cow skop (head)
  • 300g shallots
  • I packet of mild chillies
  • 1 bunch celery
  • 3 cans of Castle Lite
  • ½ bunch parsley
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 3 roasted red peppers, peeled
  • 200g deseeded red chilled
  • Sponge/bloom 120g gelatine or aspic with 1lt stock from the skop or broth. Warm it up until it dissolves.
  • Line a terrine mould with plastic.

Cook the skop with celery, whole chillies, parsley, beer and red wine until soft. Take off the heat and cool.

Once cool flake the meat into small pieces. Press meat into terrine mould followed by chillies and red peppers. Pour a ladle full with broth and gelatine.

Refrigerate until almost set, follow with another layer of meat and continue with layers as you desire. Place in the fridge until completely set.

Baked oriental lemon, chive and dill yellow tail with mushrooms

  • 1 whole yellowtail fillet
  • 2 fresh lemons
  • 1 bunch of chives
  • 80ml olive oil
  • 5 parsley springs
  • 2tsp wasabi
  • 2tsp fish sauce
  • I tsp oyster sauce
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1kg button mushrooms
  • Lemon salt
  • Kebab skewers soaked in water for half an hour

Melt together 100g salted butter, 2tbs chives and juice of a lemon. Get braai to medium hot.

Make a paste using wasabi, fish sauce and oyster sauce, season with salt and pepper. Cut lemons in wedges. In a bowl combine wedges of lemons and chives with the paste. Smear it over the fish and let rest for 10 minutes. Wrap fish with foil and cook over medium coals for about 12 minutes.

Season mushrooms with lemon salt and pepper, and push mushrooms on to the skewers. Grill them on high-heat coals.

Remove fish from the foil and cut to desired portions. Remove mushrooms from the skewers and serve drizzled with lemon and chive butter.

Striped chocolate cheesecake

Biscuit base:

  • 20 pieces crackers or any type of biscuits
  • 1/3 cup melted butter
  • ¼ cup caster sugar


  • 125g butter softened
  • 4 cups yoghurt hanged for two hours in a cheese cloth
  • 11/2 cup caster sugar
  • 2tsp lemon juice
  • 3tbs gelatine
  • 60g dark chocolate

Crush crackers or biscuits into crumbs, then mix in butter and sugar with your fingertips. Press into base of 20cm loose-bottom cake tin. Bake in a preheated oven for eight to 10 minutes. Beat butter until smooth and add hanged yoghurt and sugar. Beat well. Sponge gelatine in a ¼ cup of water and 2tsp of lemon juice and let it sit for about 10 minutes. Dissolve this in the microwave. Add 5tbs yoghurt mix to the gelatine, then slowly add the gelatine to the remaining yoghurt mix. Mix well.

Divide mixture into two parts. Cut the chocolate into small pieces. Add a cup of water and keep it in a heavy pan over a very low heat. Stir until melted properly and then add half of the melted chocolate to half the mixture. Pour the chocolate curd mixture on the cracker base in the tin. Chill in the freezer for half an hour. Pour the remaining mixture on top of the chocolate and chill in the fridge. When chilled properly, pour the remaining chocolate and chill until it is time to serve. - The Mercury

Find more beer and food pairing inspiration in the Beer Culture section of SAB Stories.