Chef Siba Mtongana

Celebrity chef Siba Mtongona in festive red. Image: Supplied

‘Tis the season: Sit down to a Christmas feast with Siba Mtongana

Make it a Sibalicious season with this beloved food personality’s fun and festive menu.

Chef Siba Mtongana

Celebrity chef Siba Mtongona in festive red. Image: Supplied

South Africa’s favourite celebrity chef will be hosting a full house of family members and loved ones for a celebratory Christmas meal this week — and she is sharing some of her most treasured recipes with The South African readers.

Despite the many challenges of 2020, Siba has worked hard to keep her brand strong, not only launching a new cookbook but also a brand-new restaurant — her first.

“As much as 2020 had its lows, there are a number of highs I am very grateful for, such as launching a new cookbook, ‘Let’s Cook, which is focussed on nutritious and delicious meals, treat, drinks, lunchboxes and more for kids, teens and the whole family,” Siba said.

“It was inspired by my desire for children to have good eating habits from a very young age in order to make better food decisions now and later on in life, once they grow up.”

Siba recognised by Harvard Business School

Another highlight for Siba was catching the attention of Harvard Business School and becoming one of their case studies.

“4 November will forever be a special day for me as that was the day my case study was taught to some of the world’s greatest minds,” she said.

Siba was named one of seven “Food Goddesses” around the globe by Tatler magazine in Malaysia, and recently also made the list of 100 most influential Africans by New African magazines alongside giants such Elon Mask.

Siba launches new restaurant in Cape Town

Table Bay Hotel
Siba’s new restaurant has opened at the Table Bay Hotel in Cape Town. Image: Supplied

Siba said the most exciting part of her year was recently opening her first restaurant at the five-star Table Bay Hotel at the V&A Waterfront, where guests are treated to a Sibalicious fine-dining experience.

It’s a very exciting venture that has been in the planning for the past five years. We are starting it as a pop-up with a set menu that celebrates world flavours through my travels, but rooted in Africa.

“It also offers tapas which are perfect for a sundowners as well as a Siba’s Sunday lunch which is a South African-inspired menu,” she said. 

Christmas Q&A with Siba Mtongana

Siba Mtongana
Siba has made the most of a trying year and already has exciting plans up her sleeve for 2021. Image: Supplied

The South African asked Siba about her most treasured festive season memories, her holiday plans and what she’s planning to focus on come 2021.

What is your favourite Christmas memory?

My favourite Christmas memory is the buzz and glorious ambiance of cooking with my family the day before Christmas, as we all helped prepare the meal for Christmas day. I distinctly remember the laughter and joy this season always brought. My task was to make the trifle with all its glorious layers. 

Where will you be spending this Christmas and summer holiday? 

This year we are spending Christmas at home with my family, including my dad, siblings and extended family. I will also be in my new restaurant serving guests some Sibalicious food. 

Has the lockdown changed your plans for the holidays? 

It definitely has! We had planned to spend Christmas abroad as a family, but with the pandemic I am super happy to be at home with my family and loved ones. We won’t be seeing all my family members this year, but we will be in touch via virtual calls and videos. 

What will you cook for Christmas?

I will be cooking up a storm as usual, and my Sibalicious turkey and gammon will be on the list.  In our family, whoever hosts on Christmas day gets assistance from siblings to bring sides and drinks to take some of the pressure off. It also adds some variety to the meal, which is fun! As for Siba the restaurant, I’ll have an amazing set menu and tapas on the go that day. 

What projects are you excited about for 2021?

Siba The Restaurant and my cookbooks will be the focus in the new year, as well as revisiting some plans we had to put on hold in 2020.  I must say I’m very optimistic about 2021, and am looking forward to it!

Try these delicious festive dishes from Siba’s kitchen.

RECIPE: Fun fruit hearts and flowers platter

Siba fruit platter
Siba’s quirky and colourful fruit platter is a healthy addition to the festive table. Image: Supplied

Preparation time: 20 minutes

Cooking time: none

Serves 4


  • 1 medium-sized pineapple, peeled and sliced 
  • ¼ watermelon, cut into slices
  • 1 medium-size sweet melon


  • 250g black seedless grapes, rinsed
  • 250g punnet green seedless grapes, rinsed
  • 250ml (1 cup) fresh strawberries, rinsed


  • Heart and flower-shaped cutter
  • Platter


  1. Create heart shapes and flower shapes in the pineapple slices by pressing the large shape flower or heat shape first followed by the smaller one of the same shapes. 
  2. Mix and match each fruit shape with another and make a beautiful colourful platter as in the picture. cut the leftover fruits in cubes.
  3. Arrange on a platter with the shaped fruits along with grapes and strawberries.

RECIPE: Honey-Glazed Gammon

Siba gammon
Honey-glazed gammon is a Sibalicious favourite. Image: Supplied

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: 1 hour 40 minutes

Serves 6+


  • 2kg boneless gammon joint
  • 500ml (2 cups) chicken stock
  • Enough water to cover the meat
  • 2 dried bay leaves
  • 4 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 30g piece fresh ginger, quartered
  • 6 black peppercorns
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 3 carrots, washed and cut into chunks
  • 1 stick celery, sliced


  • 60ml (4 tbsp) whole cloves
  • 1 garlic bulb


  • 45ml (3 tbsp) honey
  • 30ml (2 tbsp) Dijon mustard
  • 15ml (1 tbsp) soy sauce
  • 15ml (1 tbsp) fresh ginger, very finely grated
  • Juice of ½ orange


  1. Place the gammon into a large pot, cover with the stock and water. Add the bay leaves, garlic, ginger, peppercorns, thyme, carrots and celery.
  2. Bring to the boil and simmer for 1 hour 15 minutes until cooked. Remove from the stock and leave to cool slightly. Preheat the oven to 200°C.
  3. Use a small knife to remove the rind from the gammon, leaving on as much fat as possible. Score the fat in a diamond (criss cross) pattern and push a clove into each diamond section. Make sure you have enough cloves. Cut the garlic bulb in half.
  4. To make the glaze: in a bowl, mix all the ingredients together and brush the glaze liberally over the fat later with the whole cloves.
  5. Place the joint in a roasting tin with the halved garlic bulb and roast for 25 minutes until sticky and crisp round the edges. Serve with glazed and pan-fried apple or pear slices.

RECIPE: Succulent Roast Turkey

Siba turkey
Siba has all the tricks for the best roast turkey. Image: Supplied

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time 3 hours

Serves 8


  • 750ml (3 cups) water
  • 1 x 4,8kg whole turkey, fully defrosted and ready to be coated at room temperature
  • 6 lemons, halved
  • A big bunch of fresh thyme


  • 125ml (½ cup) butter
  • 30ml (2 tbsp) flaked sea salt
  • 5ml (1 tbsp) smoked paprika
  • 15 ml (1 tbsp) fresh thyme


  • 30 ml (2 tbsp) canola oil
  • 30 ml (2 tbsp) honey
  • A few drops sriracha sauce


  1. To cook the turkey: Preheat the oven to 180°C. Lower the oven rack to create enough room for the turkey so it’s not too close to the top element. Place 4 cups of water in a roasting pan to create a bain marie. Place a wire rack on top of the bain marie. Loosely and partially cover the rack with foil – do not completely line the rack with the foil. The effect should be not to fully cover the water in the bain marie that will hold the turkey. While you want the water to be able to steam and escape, you don’t want the wonderful juices that will form once cooking starts to be lost in the bain marie.
  2. Tie the turkey winglets together at the back tightly and tie the legs by crossing them together. Stuff the turkey with the lemons and thyme leaves.
  3. Gently loosen and lift the skin of the turkey without breaking or pricking holes in it.
  4. To make the spicy butter: Mix the butter with the salt, paprika and thyme. Generously rub this mixture between the turkey meat and the skin you have just loosened and lifted. Make sure to get it under the skin evenly and beautifully.
  5. To make the coating: Mix the oil, honey and sriracha. Coat the turkey with this roasting-glaze-in-the-making by brushing the whole turkey with it. Place the turkey with the breast side down in the prepared roasting pan. Roast for 1 hour until golden. Turn the turkey breast side up and baste again. Continue cooking for 1 hour until the breast is golden. Cover with foil, and cook for a further 10 to 15 minutes until cooked through.
  6. The meat juices should run clear when the thickest parts of the thigh and breast are pricked with a thin skewer until you reach the bone. Remove from heat and rest for 30 minutes, covered, before serving. Carve and serve.

RECIPE: Pineapple and raspberry semifreddo

semifreddo Siba
The advantage of this showstopper of a dessert is that it can be made the day before. Image: Supplied

Preparation time: 40 minutes

Cooking time: 10 minutes

Freeze time: At least six hours

Serves 6+


  • 4 eggs yolks
  • 180ml (¾ cup) white sugar
  • 10ml (2 t) cornflour
  • 30ml (2 tbsp) fresh ginger, sliced
  • 160ml (2/3 cup) pineapple juice
  • 45ml (3 tbsp) fresh lemon juice
  • 30ml (2 tbsp) butter
  • 3 x 250ml whipping cream, whipped
  • 500ml (2 cups) store-bought raspberry sorbet
  • 1 x 400g tin pineapple rings in light syrup, drained
  • 60ml (4 tbsp) dried pineapple pieces (optional), soaked for an hour, then drained and patted dry


  • 250ml (1 cup) raspberries


  1. Line a 26cm loose-bottom baking tin with two strips of parchment paper, covering the bottom and sides, and making sure that the edges overlap to make it easy to pull out the dessert once set.
  2. In a mixing bowl, place the egg yolks, sugar, cornflour, ginger, pineapple and lemon juices in a double boiler set over simmering water. Beat the egg mixture with an electric whisk for 8 minutes until the mixture becomes light and fluffy, and the sugar is dissolved. Remove from the heat and stir in the butter.
  3. Place the mixing bowl in a bowl filled with ice blocks (ice bath) and continue whisking to cool the mixture down quickly. Pour the mixture through a sieve into a jug.
  4. Whip the cream until stiff peak stage, and fold of the cream into the remaining cooled egg and pineapple mixture until combined. Do not over-mix as this will deflate the air in the cream.
  5. In another bowl, whisk the store-bought sorbet until light and smooth. Fold in the remaining whipped cream and whisk again to aerate it slightly.
  6. Scatter the pineapple rings in the bottom of the lined tin. Add the soaked and chopped dried pineapple pieces if using. Pour the cream and pineapple mixture on top and level it out. Top with the aerated creamy berry sorbet, level with a spatula and cover with cling film.
  7. Freeze for at least six hours, but preferably overnight.
  8. To serve: Remove the cling film and invert the semifreddo onto a serving plate or cake stand. Remove and discard the parchment paper and smooth out any crinkly edges on the semifreddo with a palette knife dipped in hot water. Garnish with the remaining raspberries.