Daniel meets us in his beautiful home, where he has built a open kitchen, which combines the traditional and the modern. It’s time for a cookery workshop where we will discover dishes for which Creole cuisine is renowned.
When we arrive at La Sirandane, in the hills of Saint-Benoît, we are immediately greeted by the smell of “risofé” (fried rice), which is being freshly cooked on the wood fire. Daniel, the owner, is already slaving over a hot stove, and he adds the finishing touch to this dish made with leftover rice, which is the traditional breakfast on Reunion. This former computer programmer created La Sirandane a few months ago, with his wife Carole. “I wanted something else, a job that didn’t involve machines and meant I was more involved with people. And as I have always been passionate about cooking, I launched these workshops. For me, it is also a way of travelling, because we meet travellers from all over the world, with a universal vocabulary: cooking“.
Samosas, “brèdes lastron” (local greens), cassava cake: discovering the flavours of Reunion
From the outset, Daniel sets the tone: “I often say that these are not cookery classes. I want you to feel like this morning you are seeing a family Sunday, where everyone meets up early to cook, then eat together“.
But before cooking, we start with eating! Daniel suggests that we come and serve ourselves a plate of “risofé” directly from the pan. We sit down at the table and taste the first dish of the day, accompanied by fresh fruit juice and hibiscus flower tea, while we get to know each other. This morning, we are a dozen or so commis chefs, happy to get our hands dirty. Our objective: to make samosas, a duck curry, “bredes lastron” (local greens) with cod and for dessert, a sweet potato cake and a cassava cake.
We follow the recipes given by Daniel and we get stuck in. Just like a conductor, our chef is everywhere, checking the seasoning, the size of the cuts, watching the curries cooking on the wood fire, all while telling us his little secrets. The smells gradually take over the kitchen, and we can hardly wait: to taste the dishes that we have all made.
The meal begins with the samosas and a small glass of home-made rhum arrangé, that we enjoy by the side of the magnificent swimming pool. Then, it’s time to serve ourselves on banana leaves, directly from the pans. “I’ve laid cutlery, but this is a chance for you to eat with your fingers”, suggests Daniel, showing us what to do. As we taste the different dishes, we congratulate each other. That is the power of this workshop, expertly guided by Daniel: as well as enjoying ourselves, we are proud to have helped make this meal a success, each in our own way. And what’s more, we leave with recipes that we can make at home, to impress our future guests!