The Fragrant Kitchen
Food & Home Entertaining|August 2017

From the Spice Trails of a Subcontinent Just Off Asia Comes a New Gem to the Franschhoek Leeu Collection Treasure – Marigold, as Exotic as the Fiery Flower It Derives From, Brings North India Home

Malu Lambert

A wave of flavour washes over me as I bite into a ball-shaped golgappa. The crispy Indian pastry is filled with potato, onion and chickpeas. The pastry cracks deliciously as the tamarind water is poured over it. It’s like nothing I’ve ever tasted. There’s earthy spice, the zing of chilli and the sweet fruitiness of tamarind, conjuring up the heat, colour and crowds of the streets of Delhi.

But we’re not in the Indian capital – we’re pretty much as far away from it as you can get. Marigold is the first authentic North Indian restaurant to ever land in Franschhoek’s leafy corridors, and it’s lighting up this Wineland’s town with fire and spice.

The restaurant is located in the new Heritage Square, another addition to the Leeu Collection portfolio, which Marigold falls under (together with the likes of Le Quartier Français across the road). A small outdoor courtyard facing some art galleries leads into an interior of exposed brickwork with timber wood flooring and bold geometric wallpaper. There are African-inspired art and fabrics, with banquette-style seating – all designed by The Leeu Collection’s resident designer, Beverley Boswell.

The restaurant’s namesake, the golden marigold, is on the tables as centrepieces. The flower is very important in Indian culture and is used in holy Hindu ceremonies. The Leeu Collection planted a field of marigolds just to supply the restaurant, and the petals of the flower even make their way into the signature marigold salad.

Chef Vanie Padayachee smiles at my reaction to the golgappa. “That’s exactly what we want our food to do. It’s an explosion in your mouth. To experience flavours you’ve never had before.” The golgappa belongs under the “chaat” category on the menu, which are snacks based on typical North Indian street food.

Vanie was with her chef-mentor, the famed Margot Janse, in Delhi when they discovered the golgappa. “All the Spidey senses came out. We said to each other, ‘What’s going on?’. That’s how we want our guests to feel, to start their meal with this tingling sensation.”

“I was there for six weeks when Margot joined me in the seventh week. My tummy was already aligned,” laughs Vanie. “We took her out to the streets of Delhi as soon as she arrived.”

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