In a town where the French flag seems to be as prominent as the South African one, Marigold is all colour and spices and warmth. It’s Franschhoek’s first authentic Indian restaurant and a welcome addition to the culinary scene.
Marigold is part of the Leeu Collection, which comprises three five star boutique properties in Franschhoek – Leeu Estates, a 17- room country house estate; Leeu House, a 12-room hotel in the village; and Le Quartier Francais hotel and its restaurant. Earlier this year, the Leeu Collection opened the Tuk Tuk Brewery, which is dedicated to Mexican cuisine and great beer. Marigold, which opened on the 8th of December, is the next step in a diverse hospitality portfolio.
What’s sure to get food-lovers excited is Marigold’s executive chef, Vanie Padayachee. Well-known from her stints at Le Quartier Français and African Relish cooking school in Prince Albert, Chef Vanie is back in Franschhoek and creating a feast of exotic flavours inspired by North Indian cuisine. “My style of cooking is influenced by the rich diversity of South African culture and I have experience at tempering and blending spices,” says Vanie. “My recent visits to India to experience the culture and cuisine first-hand has broadened my knowledge-base and brings an authenticity and tangible reference of its origins to Marigold’s menu.”
Far removed from a one-sauce-fits-all takeaway curry vibe, Marigold’s menu is filled with carefully created fragrant curries, biryanis and meat dishes cooked in a charcoal tandoor, with artfully layered spicing. Guests are invited to start with appetisers such as Aloo Tikki Chole Chaat (shallow-fried potato patties filled with spiced Bengal gram and served with Indian chickpea curry), Golgappa and Tamarind Pani (Light crispy pockets filled with potato, onion, chickpeas and served with cold tamarind water), and Rajma Galouti (kidney beans mixed with mashed potato, and flavoured with chat masala and pepper powder).
From the Tandoor, you can order Jumbo prawns, marinated in curd, cream and turmeric, flavoured with cinnamon, mace, cloves and star anise; Aloo Katlangi (Potato barrels massaged with hung yoghurt and garlic, stuffed with sultana, potato and onion) or Murg Malai Tikka (Chicken thighs marinated in yoghurt curd with ginger, garlic, green chillies, garam masala and Indian herbs, skewered with diced onion, peppers and tomatoes)
And of course, the curry menu is particularly fantastic, with options including Dum Aloo Lakhnavi (Baby potatoes and paneer dumpling stuffed with dry fruits, in an onion tomato gravy), Baingan Bharta (Roasted aubergines infused with a distinct aromatic smoky charcoal flavour, cooked with onion, tomato and garlic, sautéed with traditional Indian spices), and Achari Gosht (Beef in a traditional spicy pickled gravy with garlic and ginger, tempered with cumin and mustard seeds, and garnished with fresh coriander). For those who can’t decide what to eat, the lunch ‘thali’ is perfect – guests can choose between a vegetarian and non-vegetarian option, and the chef will select a variety of small portions of what they like best that day. The small bowls are served on one platter, collectively making up a whole meal.
The restaurant is warm and inviting, with exposed brickwork, timber wood flooring and African inspired fabrics, with seating spilling out onto the newly launched Heritage Square, which also forms part of the Leeu Collection. In the centre of the square sits a 5-foot tall statue of a lion, to represent Leeu Collection Analjit Singh (Singh means lion in Sanskrit, translating to leeu in Afrikaans) – a fitting representation of this bold, out-of-the-box addition to one of South Africa’s gourmet capitals.