UK: New Zimbabwean eatery Braai Flavours brings a new taste to Nottingham

Source: 
nottinghampost.com

A new Zimbabwean eatery in Nottingham is taking customers on a zingy taste adventure. Braai Flavours serves authentic African food that will perk up your tastebuds.

Zambezi T-bone steak, sumu chicken and boerewors, a sizzling beef sausage, are on the menu at the 12-seater diner and takeaway in Carrington.

Owner and head chef Ken Gambura has not compromised on taste although he has made the food more “British friendly” by serving it up as burgers, wraps and torpedo rolls.

“You might feel a bit of heat, but it’s more flavour than heat,” he said.

The business, in Mansfield Road, takes its name from the Afrikaans word braai, meaning grilling meat over an open fire.

Ken said: “When we first opened people were just going for the chicken but now they’re getting a bit braver.

“The steak is crisp on the outside but still juicy on the inside, so still quite tender. We don’t do medium or rare, it’s well done but it’s still quite succulent - the way we cook it locks the juices in."

The boerewors, ringed like a Cumberland sausage, originated in South Africa and is a mix of beef, herbs and spices.

In keeping with tradition, the meat is barbecued, then finished off on the grill with a flavoursome sumu glaze, made to the recipe of Ken’s father.

Sumu has a tomato base with paprika, turmeric, ginger, and herbs and spices from Manicaland, a province in the eastern highlands of Zimbabwe.

There’s also a spicier version, created with African bird’s eye chillies, grown by Nottinghamshire's Chilli Bobs. Not only is it used in-house, customers can buy a bottle to use at home and it’s selling well.

The face of the sauce (and the brand, no less) is Ken’s late mother Florence, who passed away in 1994. Her portrait also hangs on the wall.

“The menu was driven by my mum. She was a really good chef and a lot of the cooking I do now I learnt from her - how to mix flavours and getting the spices right.

“We used to call her ‘wonder woman’ as she would put together, from nothing, a really good, tasty meal. She was really good at putting flavours together.

“I grew up around food, cooking, and I suppose that’s where the passion for food came from,” said Ken.

Braai Flavours began as a street food stall at charity events and food festivals - Ken’s way of “giving something back” to the community.

Taking into account the feedback of customers, the meat-driven has taken a twist.

“It was a huge surprise the vegetarian option took off as it did,” said Ken, who found that half the orders have been for veggie and vegan options.

Chargrilled butternut squash, aubergine, courgette and halloumi cheese, with sumu sauce, and colourful salads are served with sides of sweet potato fries and sweet pepper brown rice.

Ken, who was given the thumbs up by celebrity chef Marco Pierre White, at Nottingham Food Festival in 2015, has been supported in his business venture by his brother Sean Munyukwi, a Boots worker, who helped him with the branding and eatery design, which has an African feel with crate wallpaper and artwork of Africa’s ‘’big five’ game animals, the lion, leopard, rhinoceros, elephant, and buffalo.

“We have had some really good support from the local community. It’s probably 60 percent of local people and 40 percent from the African community.

“All of it has been really good and the feedback from people who have tried the food has been really good. We’ve had people coming back for the same and a chap came in six times for the same steak wrap.”

Ken, who is 40 and has a ten-year-old son, came to the UK in 1997 to study nursing and worked in the NHS as a respiratory nurse at a London hospital before moving into business development.

He came to Nottingham in 2003 when his wife Vilmer, an occupational health nurse, got a job at the Queen’s Medical Centre.

He still has relatives and his best friend living in Zimbabwe, and after last week’s military takeover and the resignation of President Robert Mugabe, he is hopeful for the future.

“It’s something that has been a long time coming. The change is a good thing. It will open up other opportunities for people who are in Zimbabwe and will hopefully open up the borders and get funding in for tourism and business.

“Zimbabwe is a beautiful country, it’s got a lot to offer to the rest of the world. It will take a while to get things right, then hopefully it will start to rebuild as a country.”

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